Robin Hood: backed by the rich, backed by the rest, says new poll

Robin Hood: backed by the rich, backed by the rest, says new poll
May 28th 2012 / 

There’s lots of interesting material in the opinion poll released to mark the launch of the new CLASS think-tank today, and there will no doubt be a lot of further analysis of the resuts. But I have a special interest in the Robin Hood Tax, so the question which asked whether voters would support or oppose “a tax on financial transactions by investment banks” was particularly interesting. It’s not surprising that overall, 61% supported the tax (half very strongly) with only 19% against (mostly in the “tend to oppose” category). So of those who expressed a view one way or the other, that’s three to one for the Robin Hood Tax – surely an idea whose time is rather overdue!

Some of the other figures in the survey bear reflection. Not one single category of voters analysed showed more opponents than supporters, and every category bar one saw at least 50% of the sample in favour (see below for don’t knows). There are some groups where support is staggeringly overwhelming: the highest majority for the tax is 75% among people who voted Lib Dem in 2010, followed by 72% support among current Labour voters (up from 68% of those who voted Labour in 2010 – possibly due to an influx of disillusioned ex-Lib Dem voters?) Even in London, where we are consistently told that a Robin Hood Tax would damage the City, there is a 58%:26% majority for the tax, more than two to one if the 17% of don’t knows (lower than any other region) are excluded – although in the Midlands, Wales, North and Scotland, support is far stronger, reaching 69%:11% north of the border.

The polling data (and I’m conscious that a single online poll, even one with over 1700 respondents, only provides a snapshot) suggests that Robin Hood Tax supporters do still need to address some problems – mostly the relatively high level of don’t knows (at 21% overall it was the highest don’t know of the seven policies polled, although not hugely above some of them). Don’t knows are particularly concentrated in some groups though – especially interesting is the 33% of don’t knows among 18-24 year olds (although this group produced the highest DK answers to all policy proposals, the proportion was still higher for the FTT than for most other policies). And at 43%:25%, younger voters seem the least supportive of the tax – which is unusual for an issue that has had such salience on social media, with cultural and pop stunts and so on: although it may be that asking about a financial transactions tax rather than the Robin Hood Tax was the cause.

There is a slight gender split, although men (64%) and women (58%) are pretty similarly supportive. But only 13% of women oppose the tax, compared to 24% of men – largely because 29% of women said they didn’t know (another target group for campaigners, therefore). Similarly, although social classes ABC1 (60%) and C2DE (62%) suggest that support for a Robin Hood Tax is not a huge class issue, opposition to the tax is down at 12% among the second category, compared with 23% among better paid voters. Again, though, this seems to be because don’t knows where higher among C2DEs.

The highest opposition to the tax was among current and past Conservative voters, although even Conservative voters back the tax by 53%:30%, so it seems that Cameron and Osborne are not even supported by their own voters on this issue, reinforcing our view that they are acting solely in the interests of their friends in the City when they oppose the EU FTT so frantically.

Footnote: the Robin Hood Tax campaign asked similar questions in a slightly smaller poll recently (and got similar answers), and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is polling people in more than a dozen countries around the world, so we might get comparative figures soon.

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