Britain at political crossroads

December 13, 2010

The National Centre for Social Research today released its latest British Social Attitudes report, its landmark study of the public's attitudes and values, published annually for almost thirty years.

This year's report delivers the public's verdict after thirteen years of Labour rule. It shows a nation at a political crossroads. On the one hand attitudes on welfare have hardened to the right. On the other, many think there were marked improvements in health and education under Labour, creating potential resistance to reform or cuts in these areas.

A shift to the right in attitudes towards welfare

The public remains concerned about the gap between rich and poor. Yet concern about inequality isn't matched by support for welfare and redistribution. In fact, attitudes to welfare are even tougher than when Margaret Thatcher left office twenty years ago. Attempts to reform the benefit system chime with the public mood.Recognition for improved health and education services

Voters may have rejected Labour at the ballot box but this hides a huge increase in satisfaction with core public services over the lifetime of Labour's government. The coalition government should bear this in mind as it grapples with reform and reducing public spending in services like health and education.Implementing reform with a deficit of trust

The coalition government must wrestle with these apparent contradictions at a time when Britain's level of distrust in politicians and government has never been higher and trust in the banks is at an all time low.Penny Young, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Social Research, comments: "This year's British Social Attitudes results highlight the scale of the task at hand for the coalition government as it cuts the deficit and drives through its programme of reform. The survey points to a nation at political crossroads between left and right: it is perhaps little surprise that the election resulted in a coalition. On the one hand we are seeing a hardening of attitudes towards welfare reform whilst on the other there is strong support for investment in health and education.

'Record levels of investment under Labour appear to have paid off in terms of public satisfaction - particularly on health, where satisfaction levels are now at all time high. The coalition will need to tread carefully to avoid a backlash against the potential impact of reform or failure to invest. In contrast, changing attitudes to welfare are in tune with the government, suggesting the public will back benefit reform.

'It is twenty years since Margaret Thatcher left office, but public opinion is far closer now to many of her core beliefs than it was then. Our findings show that attitudes have hardened over the last two decade, and are more in favour of cutting benefits and against taxing the better off disproportionately. But just as Blair and Brown incorporated key concepts of Thatcherism into New Labour's ideology, Britain today is sending a clear message to Cameron and Clegg that it values the investment Labour has made in this country's core public services.

'Perhaps the biggest problem for the government is how to lead the British public away from recession and implement reform when trust in politicians, government and banks is at an all time low. It will need to convince a sceptical electorate that it is working with their best interests at heart. Emphasising the fairness of any cuts while protecting the tangible outcomes of increased spending will be crucial. The public may want the government to spend less but they don't want to lose the gains of record investment."

SAGE Publications UK

Related Health Articles from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to