Survey: Has our patriotic bubble burst?

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Around two thirds of Britons say the country lacks leadership and think business has a role to play in providing confidence and reassurance in difficult times, according to a new report from HPI Research.

The study, which explores public confidence and outlook, reveals that British public opinion is sharply divided between people feeling disgruntled and enthusiastic.

The summer’s patriotic events give some a reason to be optimistic, while for others the economic woes and perceived lack of leadership leave them feeling disgruntled.

An analysis of the public mood revealed that 27 per cent of adults feel enthusiastic, which has fallen from 30 per cent since the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Whilst 41 per cent of people feel ambivalent, one in three say they feel disgruntled – down slightly from figures sourced before the Jubilee celebrations).

The HPI research also reveals that London hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games polarises opinions - asked whether they were excited about the games being in London, 42 per cent agreed but 39 per cent disagreed.

Looking deeper at drivers for optimism, when people were asked about the best things about living in Britain, the top factor was the country’s healthcare system (19 per cent), followed by the country’s landscape (18 per cent), and appreciation of the freedoms people enjoy (16 per cent). Despite having one of the wettest summers on record, one in ten people (10 per cent) even mentioned the British weather!

Set against the positive glow of the summer’s events on people’s sense of optimism and identity, a major thorn in the side of the patriotic bubble was the wide-ranging sense that the country lacked strong leadership (63 per cent).

With blame for the UK’s economic woes often attributed to bankers (59 per cent) or the current government (27 per cent) there was a strong sense that business now has an increasing role to play in filling the leadership void.

Two thirds of people surveyed (66 per cent) said strong brands could provide reassurance in these difficult times – a comment driven by people moving to brands they trust in uncertain times (of those surveyed, 61 per cent said they opted for tried and trusted brands and 57 per cent said they would not compromise on their favourite brands in the current economic climate).

The leadership void also coloured what people regarded to be the worst things about living in Britain today. The top issues mentioned comprised: Immigration (21 per cent), the state of the nation’s finances and cost of living (19 per cent) and rising unemployment (19 per cent).

David Iddiols, author of HPI’s report said: “There has been much talk about the existence and impact of a patriotic bubble this summer.

“Our research suggests opinion is in fact polarised. Whilst the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Olympics are giving some a much-needed boost, there is another segment of the population whose attention is not being diverted from the gritty economic realities they are living with every day.

“ Leadership emerges as a major issue and probably hasn’t been helped by various Government U-turns and recent scrutiny over ethics in the financial and media worlds. People want this void to be filled and it is at least as important as this summer’s patriotic events to stimulate confidence and growth. Further, given confidence and growth are now so inter-connected, it is little surprise that so many people expect the business sector to take the initiative and fill the perceived leadership void.”