Campaigning for the UK election is in full swing, Brexit appears to be the dominant issue for the parties and the media, but what longer term issues do citizens want politicians to be debating as we contemplate the next five years in a rapidly changing world?
To explore this question, Fast Future ran a flash survey from May 24th to May 30th 2017. The survey was distributed to their own networks and via a range of social medium forums covering all points on the political spectrum. A total of 209 responses were received, with just over 78 per cent of those stating an origin coming from the UK.
Participants were asked a series of six multiple choice questions covering Politics and Security, Social Issues, Economic Priorities, the Commercial World, Science and Technology Policy, and Environmental Priorities. For each question they were asked to select two options from a list of possibilities. For each question, they could also add their own thoughts and comments on alternative priorities. In a seventh open ended question, respondents were asked to suggest any other priorities that they considered critical to Britain’s long-term future. Presented on the following pages are the responses of both the total respondent base and also for those who selected the UK as their geographic origin. The accompanying narrative focuses mainly on the views of UK respondents, contrasting these where relevant with total responses and with the views of UK participants aged under 35.
- Politics and Security – Electoral reform is the single biggest priority across all six questions – with 79% demanding discussion of a more representative electoral model. There is little support for discussion about the underlying themes and ideas around Brexit such as Adopting a "Britain first" stance in Brexit negotiations (9%), Reducing immigration (7%) and Strengthening Britain’s relationship with the USA (0%).
- Social Issues –We want our politicians to be focused on a more effective health service (47%), an education system that prepares pupils for a fast-changing world (40%) and establishing a more caring and compassionate society (32%).
- Economic Priorities –We want a combination of continuity and solutions for impending disruption –hence among the UK responses, Ensuring Britain retains access to the European single market (42%) was emphasised along withRedistribution of wealth to the poorest in society (36%) and Preparing for the economic and social impact of the potential replacement of jobs with technology(29%). The under 35s displayed far more concern over future disruption and prioritised guaranteed basic incomes and services (58%), preparing for the impact of technology on jobs(42%) and wealth redistribution(42%).
- Commercial World –A changing industrial mix and the rise of new sectors led to a clear focus on the need to develop human capital and encourage the creation of new ventures that can fill the potential employment gaps that might arise from technological disruption. The ideas prioritised included Encouraging companies to spend more on training and development (34%), Supporting the development of small to medium enterprises (33%), and Creating incentives for businesses to create jobs in their local communities (24%).
- Science and Technology Policy –National capacity building to help the UK compete globally is seen as a clear priority with an emphasis on Increasing government investment in key fields of science and technology (55%) and Raising technology awareness and digital literacy across society (30%).
- Environmental Priorities –UK respondents are clear that renewable energy and a clean environment are key to ensuring a sustainable future for Britain –prioritising Accelerating investment in renewable energy generation (53%), Increasing environmental protection (33%), Improving air quality (19%), and Stronger environmental legislation for businesses (19%).
The survey highlights the views of respondents across the political spectrum. There is a clear message that, despite concerns over Brexit, UK respondents want to look beyond the next few years to focus on a progressive reform agenda designed to position the UK to be a major player on the global stage over the next five years.
The scale of interest in electoral reform may come as the biggest surprise but is a clear reflection of the desire for more representative governance models.
There is a clear sense that the global economy is being disrupted by exponentially advancing technologies such as artificial intelligence. UK respondents want to see government responding to help build the nation’s capacity to innovate and the ability of individuals to survive and thrive in a fast changing world.