U.S. President George W. Bush is suffering from record disapproval levels, and in France the government has been battered by immigrant riots and student protests, but nowhere are people more disillusioned with their government than in the U.K., according to an Ipsos MORI survey that compared Britain with five other major countries—the U.S., France, Germany, Italy and Spain—and asked citizens about their level of confidence in government’s ability to deal with issues such as immigration, crime and terrorism.
Britons are the most optimistic about their economic situation when compared with other European nations and the U.S., but are deeply critical of the government on just about all other social issues. And much of that criticism focuses on the performance of Prime Minister Tony Blair, who rated lowest of the six leaders, with support for the Labour government on a par with the recently-ousted Berlusconi government in Italy.
Among the specific findings:
• Confidence in the British government to promote the integration of immigrants is lowest in Britain, with just 25 percent saying they are confident, compared with 45 percent saying they are confident in Spain.
• Nearly half of Britons (47 percent) say they are worried about crime and violence, compared with a quarter in the U.S. (23 percent). At the same time, just 31 percent in the UK are confident in the government to crack down on crime and violence, compared with almost double that in Germany (57 percent).
• Similarly, the British government receives the lowest confidence ratings of the six countries (44 percent) when it comes to defending their country against terrorism.
• The British government still does well on the economy compared with other countries. Just 11 percent of people in Britain see unemployment as the most important issue facing the country, which is by far the lowest level across the countries surveyed, and compares with 71 percent in Germany, 59 percent in Italy and 54 percent in France. And Britons have a high level of confidence in government to reduce unemployment even further.
Says Bobby Duffy of Ipsos MORI, “This must be a major concern for the Labour Government, as all our other work on the determinants of electoral success shows that perceptions of economic competence are critical—and if views of the current government are on balance negative in the currently very positive economic climate then prospects do not look bright.”