What do the people know?

John Rentoul

lama 300x231 What do the people know?As someone who is quite capable of believing contradictory things, I liked a couple of findings from our latest ComRes poll.

One was that 16 per cent of respondents agreed that public spending should be increased and that it should be cut.

We asked if people agreed or disagreed with these two statements:

The Government should increase spending on public services

The Government should cut public spending to reduce the deficit

More agreed with the first (47%) than the second (32%), but 16 per cent agreed with both.

The other was that 34 per cent said: “I currently boycott the products or services of some companies because they do not pay their fair share of tax.”

This seems unlikely, in that the fuss about big international companies not paying “enough” tax has been going only a few months and sales of Starbucks and Amazon products (or usage of Google products) have not fallen by large margins. (More detailed polling, which also produced exaggerated claims of people’s boycotting activity, was carried out by YouGov in November.)

Even more indicative of the unreliability of public opinion, perhaps, was the finding that 16 per cent “didn’t know” whether they were boycotting some companies or not.

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  • Adam Hewitt

    Josh from the West Wing knows all about this, of course…

    JOSH: …the people are speaking. Because 68% think we give too much in foreign
    aid, and 59% think it should be cut.

    WILL: You like that stat?

    JOSH: I do.

    WILL: Why?

    JOSH: Because 9% think it’s too high, and shouldn’t be cut! 9% of respondents
    could not fully get their arms around the question. There should be another box you can
    check for, “I have utterly no idea what you’re talking about. Please, God, don’t ask for
    my input.”

  • cutchswife

    Do not underestimate us, Mr Rentoul we know a lot more than you think. The fact that Startbucks is now ‘negotiating’ to pay tax is a testament to people power. The trouble is, we’ve got lazy and don’t wield our people power enough…

  • Louise McCudden


  • Pacificweather

    I want my money back!

  • Pacificweather

    It is good to know there are potential new politicians out there.

  • frances smith

    perhaps its the quality of the research, rather than the respondents.

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