What came first, the chicken or the egg?
7th Aug 2023
The equivalent question for us to consider is what changed first, public opinion or Minister’s views?
Those engaged with politics over the years have often debated whether public opinion shifts first, then the media report it and politicians reflect this change or do politicians set out their stall, the media report it and this changes political opinion. I’m sure you will have your own opinions on this.
In the past fortnight, post-Uxbridge, the media has been full of opinion pieces from a variety of columnists; senior former politicians have waded in too – from ex-Chancellor Philip Hammond to former PM, Tony Blair. All have asked questions relating to net zero – from the cost, to the impact on the UK, to fundamental questions around how to support decarbonising developing and Middle Income countries such as India and China.
The BBC, trying to be helpful to the net zero cause, broadcast hour long programmes on the subject, which actually asked more questions than they answered. And speaking entirely personally, when it featured an £18,000 heat pump installation it would have made even the biggest supporter of the technology question its application.
So does all this activity have an impact upon public perception, and Minister’s recent concerns? If so, is the media reflecting public opinion or influencing it? And has anything changed?
I can reveal to you that according to polling I have seen, yes public opinion has shifted. From tracking the results from asking the same questions over the past three years, I can inform you that public support for tackling climate change having been consistent in 2021 and 2022, has fallen dramatically. I’m not talking about a few percentage points, within the margin of error, but by a third.
I’ll outline more details in future posts, but this sea-change poses a real challenge to policy makers and a stark warning to some climate change campaigners. The public are increasingly aware of some of the costs coming their way; they don’t like some of the behavioural changes being suggested they adopt; and they certainly don’t like being lectured or talked down to.