What policy do people most want the government to pursue in 2013? There's a clear winnerby Peter Kellner / December 12, 2012 / Leave a comment
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In the end it comes down to a choice of which to punish: the world’s poorest people, or some of the world’s richest companies. By a clear margin, the public thinks the top priority for Britain in 2013 is to crack down on companies that use accounting ploys to avoid paying taxes here on profits made within the country.
That is the outcome of a unique polling exercise that YouGov has conducted for Prospect. We asked people to consider 16 policy proposals. We wanted to find out what voters most want the government to do in 2013. Instead of asking whether they supported or opposed each idea, we asked them to choose between them.
We did this by organising a knockout tournament like, say, Wimbledon or the FA Cup. For round one, we arranged the 16 proposals into eight pairs and asked respondents in each case which they thought would be better for Britain. The next day, the eight “winners” went forward into round two, where they were arranged into four pairs. Day three saw the semi-finals, contested by the four victors in round two. Day four saw the final, between the two semi-final winners.
The way the contest unfolded sheds a bright, even harsh, light on what really matters to people at the end of 2012.
Little surprise that one of the most emphatic “victories” was for doing more to fight unemployment. The alternative, doing more to reduce inflation, is considered less vital these days, for it remains subdued, even if above the government’s 2 per cent target. Getting people back to work is plainly seen as the more urgent priority. Perhaps more surprising is that two “bash the rich” policies, both very popular when tested on their own, attract little support when pitched against other policy ideas. A “mansion tax” on properties worth more than £2m loses out to a cut in Britain’s spending on overseas aid, while a three-to-one majority reckon it’s more important to nationalise the railways than to impose a maximum pay limit of £1m.
We pitched two right-wing favourites against each other: ending all immigration versus Britain leaving the European Union. By a narrow margin, immigration is considered the higher priority, although more than one voter in…