Foreword

Welcome to our review of 2019: another year of Brexit and another general election. We are putting this review to bed before the outcome of the election and so we don’t know if the Conservatives ultimately managed a significant majority, or had a shock similar to that of 2017. At the time of writing, a Labour victory looked almost impossible, and Jeremy Corbyn had not seen the kind of surge witnessed in 2017, despite many of his policies being popular.
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Articles

What sort of country will Mr Johnson govern?

After a momentous election, I am delighted that the Ipsos MORI Exit poll has again proved to be highly accurate, predicting 368 Conservative seats at 10pm on the night of the election: in the end they achieved 365.  Our pre-election polling for the Evening Standard was accurate to within 1% of each Parties’ share of…
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The unpredictable state of British politics

Unpredictable would be a generous description of the state of British politics in 2019. Three years on from the referendum, Brexit claimed the career of yet another Conservative leader. After reaching an agreement with European leaders on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, Theresa May’s first net satisfaction rating of the new year…
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The state of trust in 2019

“There is a crisis of trust in society!” says the media. “Trust in politics is in crisis!” say politicians. “Trust in business is at crisis point!” say the PR companies. “Trust as a concept is in crisis!” say people trying to sell business management books. It’s no wonder, therefore, that under this bombardment of negativity,…
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Bursting the vaccine hesitancy bubble

Two decades on from the publication of Andrew Wakefield’s refuted paper linking autism in childhood with the MMR vaccine, the spread of fake news online has contributed to vaccine hesitancy now being one of the top ten threats to health, globally.11 Referred to as the ‘delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of…
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From climate apathy to climate emergency

2019 has been a year of climate records broken23 (again) and, as the Met Office confirmed a new UK record temperature of 38.7C, there has been report24 after report25 showing that we are heading for catastrophe. Not even our butterflies will be spared. Amid the gloom, shifting UK attitudes give cause for some optimism; the…
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An ugly attitude: the UK’s perspective on ‘beauty’

14 June 2019 marked a historic day for the UK advertising industry: the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned gender stereotyping in advertising. The ASA highlighted the connection between harmful stereotypes and the restriction of people’s choices, aspirations and opportunities. The guidelines gave the industry tangible examples of what to avoid in advertising, focusing on six…
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The Trump phenomenon

President Trump’s re-election chances should be in dire straits – impeachment is not usually a good look. But people shouldn’t get ahead of themselves by reading too much into the tea leaves. The truth is that structural factors are the most important determinants of presidential electoral outcomes: the economy, his approval ratings, his incumbency, among…
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Keeping promises: customer experience in 2019

In theory, all the new channels we have for contacting companies should make us happier with customer service. But for customer experience practitioners, it has made the job of delivering a functionally and emotionally fulfilling experience which delivers on a ‘brand promise’ inestimably harder. These days, not only do you need to ensure that every…
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How big is Britain?

The answer is 209,331 km2, 80,823 miles2, but more interesting perhaps is how big, or small, our islands feel. Physical geography matters, but so too do our perceptions of space and distance. Think how often you, or someone else, says “oh no, that’s too far” or “it takes ages” about a visit to a relative…
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Perennials: the golden years?

A common thread that runs through so much of our work is that things are better than we think they are. Whether we’re thinking about crime rates, levels of unemployment or the rates of immigration, our perceptions are not in line with reality. The same is true when it comes to our later life; globally,…
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Packaging rebellion?

For many, the amount of waste we produce is on a par with global warming and climate change as an issue of environmental importance,58 despite not having a Greta Thunberg-esque figure to spearhead awareness and activism. Images of littered single-use plastic were unfairly attributed to recent Extinction Rebellion protests, in some corners prompting stronger responses than…
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There’s more to the NHS than bricks and mortar

2019 was the second year in a row that Conservative Prime Ministers made significant announcements about NHS funding. Following Theresa May’s 70th birthday present to the NHS in 2018, Boris Johnson pledged an additional £3 billion capital investment plan to rebuild hospitals and replace diagnostic equipment. This additional funding is of course very welcome within…
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Don’t have a cow, man

Meat and dairy consumption are marbled through British culture like the fat in a good T-bone. Over 60% of the UK’s agricultural output comes from livestock, with dairy and beef making up the bulk of this.84 These foods are staples of our diets. But for how much longer, when it’s clear we’re harming the planet…
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A turbulent year for the Royals

In turbulent times, many Britons see the monarchy as something enduring and providing stability. Over half of us see it as something we can be proud of. While Brexit has dominated the headlines in 2019, the private lives of the Royals have given it a run for its money. The Royals have had their fair share of…
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Actions speak louder than hashtags

It’s been two years since Alyssa Milano’s incendiary tweet calling on women to voice their experiences of sexual harassment through the hashtag #MeToo. While the rallying cry has entered the lexicon, what has the movement really changed? Our recent work for the OSCE reveals the extent of sexual harassment in European countries. The survey found…
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Rethinking cyber security

2019 saw the 30th birthday of the World Wide Web. It is still an incredibly new technology, and its full impact will not be clear for decades. In the 100 years after the invention of the printing press in 1450, there was massive social upheaval: we might expect the same now; we are still at…
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Less nimby, more maybe

Nimbyism NOUN not-in-my-back-yard-ism the practice of objecting to something that will affect one or take place in one’s locality We British love our scenery and countryside – it’s the thing we say that makes us feel proudest as a nation, along with the NHS and a few other institutions such as the armed forces. But we need…
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Sex, drugs and liberal attitudes

2019 marked a profound shift in attitudes as the UK continues to become more socially liberal. Our research with the Policy Institute at King’s College London shows how attitudes have shifted since 1989. Thirty years ago, 35% said abortion was morally wrong; this number has now almost halved to 18%. Similarly, our attitudes towards illegal…
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Broken Britain?

If the 1990s and early part of the 21st century seemed a happy time for social democracy and liberal values, the post-2008 crash world seems very different. One of the biggest shifts in my 32 years at Ipsos MORI has been the ‘loss of the future’ in Western Europe and North America. Whereas in 2003…
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