Welcome to our review of 2018, a year of unending argument about Brexit – and potentially one of many to come. Overall the British remain personally upbeat, with ONS recording rising personal happiness, and (perhaps) record employment contributing to this. Yet the public are also negative about the country as a whole. They are negative about Brexit’s impact on their own finances and the country’s; have record concern about poverty and inequality; and 62% say they would pay more taxes to end austerity. There’s a widespread feeling that the young face an uncertain future. Most of us think we have a housing crisis in Britain. Economic confidence is now the lowest it’s been since 2011.
However, it’s also nearly Christmas, and so I am going to focus on the positives. The first is that, in 2018, Britons continue to believe we have more that unites us than divides us. While 61% believe people these days are angrier than in the past, they are actually less likely to do so than before the Financial Crash in 2007, when 72% believed everyone was getting angrier.
We may be divided into ‘Anywheres’ or ‘Somewheres’, but most of us still trust each other and experts – if anything, more so than in the past. Our Annual Veracity Index has found no collapse in trust in our politicians – it’s just as low as it was back in 1983 when we first asked the question. In fact, trust in most professions, including journalists, has been rising over the last decade.
British institutions like the monarchy, BBC and armed forces remain popular. Nearly all of us (87%) thought the NHS was a good thing as it celebrated its 70th birthday this summer, and the BBC has got record audiences for its drama series. The Royal Wedding in May showed how traditional British institutions are adept at modernising themselves – and this year 87% of us are favourable to Prince Harry, 85% to the Queen herself.
While our innate predilection for immediate threats and bad news stories has helped us survive for thousands of years, in general things are better than we think they are (without being complacent!), as our Perils of Perception studies show.
We have chosen some of the ‘Words of Year’ for 2018 to feature on the front cover of this edition. These words – ‘singe-use’, ‘vegan’, ‘MeToo’, ‘whitewash’, ‘plogging’ (the practice of picking up litter whilst out jogging) – illustrate our desire as a nation to change and improve the things around us. Maybe the world isn’t going to hell in a handbasket after all.
We at Ipsos MORI are not content to rest on our laurels either. This year our Almanac tackles topics as diverse as the NHS at 70, the financial sector in the wake of ‘Open Banking’, how brands can best use Siri, Alexa and Google Home, the rate at which women are taking their place at the boardroom table, whether our high streets really are on their last legs and if the youth of today have gone soft.
We’ve also included some of our favourite nuggets from our research this year!
All that remains for me is to wish you and your family our best wishes for Christmas and 2019 – which we will be scanning, analysing and measuring as ever! It will undoubtedly hold even more surprises, but I hope it’s a good one for you.