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Attitude adjustment

30 September, 2022

Britain is becoming more liberal.  

That’s one take-out from the latest edition of the British Social Attitudes survey: an annual survey of public opinion on subjects ranging from the environment and equality to taxation and the NHS.  

The most recent survey shows that 73% of the British public believed that rights for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals “had not gone far enough” or were “about right” – compared to 62% in 2013. 64% of people thought rights for transgender people “had not gone far enough” or were “about right”, compared to 33% who believed they had “gone too far”. And anti-immigration sentiment was on the decline too, with the proportion of people believing that immigration was “bad for the economy” falling from 42% in 2011 to 20% in 2021. “As a country we are as liberal as we have been at any point since this survey started in 1983” noted a senior fellow from the National Centre for Social Research, which carries out the survey.  

These surveys have always been important touchpoints for gauging genuine public opinion. But they feel more valuable than ever in an era of echo chamber newsfeeds and ‘culture war’ narratives. And following a leadership contest that presented reducing trans rights as a political priority, it’s a hopeful reminder that the majority of the British public doesn’t feel the same way.  

Our views affect how all of us live our lives – from where we choose to work, to what we buy and how we vote. And, as this survey shows, the views too often presented as the ‘woke’ ideology of a young, liberal minority have never been more mainstream.  Any organisation hoping to appeal to customers, supporters or employees in 2022 would do well to pay attention. 

By Sarah Howden

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