Poll: 73% fine with #UKuncut style protests


6:30 pm - April 4th 2011

by Don Paskini    


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Over the weekend YouGov asked people about the recent protests over spending cuts:

73% thought that peaceful civil disobedience was “acceptable”.

Only 22% thought it “unacceptable”.

3% thought that violent protests such as breaking windows or damaging buildings were “acceptable”.

93% said they were “unacceptable”.

On the deficit:
24% backed the government policies to reduce the deficit.
3% thought there should be more cuts,
29% thought the cuts should be done more slowly,
19% think there should be fewer cuts and more tax rises
16% thought cuts were unnecessary.

It would be nice if those commentators who criticised Ed Miliband for speaking at the TUC march and claimed it was a flop were aware of the real state of public opinion.

Fewer than 1 in 4 people support the government’s plans. 2 in 3 would prefer an alternative which reduced the scale or speed of the cuts. Nearly 3 in 4 back peaceful protest against the cuts.

Only a tiny minority of people support smashing shop windows in protest, a belief as extreme, fringe and popular only on the internet as the notion that the cuts should be deeper.

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About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Reader comments


British citizens in common sense shocker! Seriously, it’s great to see how little impact the hysterical rightwing press has on the common sense of the British people when it comes to democracy…

2. Mr S. Pill

“Seriously, it’s great to see how little impact the hysterical rightwing press has on the common sense of the British people when it comes to democracy…”

+1.

I bet that if you asked whether taking over a private business was ‘peaceful civil disobedience’ you would get a much more conflicted result.

4. Mr S. Pill

@3

“taking over a private business” – loaded language. You could frame it as “standing around in a shop causing no harm to anyone” and get even more people in favour.

“taking over a private business” – loaded language.

It is the kind of language protesters have been using.

6. Mr S. Pill

@5

..and? Do we now have to ask polling questions using the same language as certain groups or people within groups? C’mon now. Polls are supposed to be impartial. What this poll shows (& granted it’s only one, could be an outlier etc) is that the public broadly support peaceful civil disobediance. Don’t try and play games of semantics to play this down.

7. Chaise Guevara

The survey refers to it as “Peaceful civil disobedience (such as people
staging sit-ins or occupying shops)”. So I’m guessing it can be taken to mean people are ok with occupying places like F&M’s as long as you don’t break anything or hit anyone.

It’s a shame that they used the word ‘violent’ to describe vandalism.

Mr S Pill,

Don’t try and play games of semantics to play this down.

I’m not trying to play it down. It just seems ironic that you are complaining about “loaded language” that occupiers themselves use to promote occupations to the public. What do you think occupation means?

The result seems good from a protest point of view.

So given so many oppose violence & vandalism, will UK uncut finally condemn such actions?

11. Mr S. Pill

@9

I’m complaining about loaded language in polling, sure. Loaded language in political polemic/rhetoric is perfectly acceptable (whether or not I agree with the sentiments expressed or not).

The framing of the questions on the original poll is loaded – it asks whether the public support “peaceful civil disobedience” and “violent protest”. ‘Peaceful’ has positive connotations, ‘violent’ negative. And smashing a window or damaging a building is vandalism, not violence. That’s not semantics – it’s a misunderstanding of central importance. What would the result have been if it had been phrased ‘non-violent civil disobedience’ and ‘property damage as part of protest’ or similar?

This poll isn’t impartial – ‘violent’ has negative connotations, ‘peaceful’ positive, and that will have made a huge difference to how people have responded.
‘Violent’ means harm to people – not damage to property. By wrongly labelling property damage ‘violent’ (carelessly, rather than intentionally I assume), YouGov have seriously loaded the question. On the other question, ‘Non-violent direct action’ seems to better capture sit ins, occupying shops than ‘civil disobedience’, which usually refers to refusing to obey a law with which you disagree.

Pretty encouraging on the whole, especially when we note that the entire political and media establishment regards the ‘no cuts at all’ (i.e. classic Keynesian) position as some of kind of madness. Really funny when you realise that Keynes was a pillar of the establishment and not even remotely socialist.

I must also point out that there are more than two positions on the question of violence against property for political purposes; 4% expressed neither support nor strong opposition.

There are some other gems in that data:

1) The ambivalence about violence increases to 12% among the under-40s compared to 5% among the over 40s. This is the most telling division; a real generation gap.

2) The demo hasn’t shifted many opinions. Support for cuts has fallen slightly, by 2% since 26th March. Most surprising is that there has also been a 4% swing from ‘don’t know’ to ‘oppose the cuts’ (from 13% ‘don’t knows’ to 9%).

So, people may not like it, but violent demos work, apparently! Well, they sway the ‘don’t knows’, anyway. Well done to the BBC and Sky.

16. Mr S. Pill

@13

Is there any surprise about the generation gap, though? After all this was said:

“”The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect to their elders…. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and are tyrants over their teachers.”

…allegedly by, um, Socrates.

Or, attributed to Plato: “”What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?”

Kids going wild is nothing new.

17. Chaise Guevara

@ Denny

“It’s a shame that they used the word ‘violent’ to describe vandalism.”

But hardly surprising, given that vandalism tends to be violent. The best way to avoid being labelled as violent is not to be violent. It’s the troublemakers who are to blame here, not those reporting it.

@8 Vandalism, otherwise known as the violent destruction of property, is in fact violent and the word is therefore correctly used.

19. eattherich

hypocritical to blame our youth.

camaron was in a dinner club that smashed up restaurants.as well osbrone and Boris who tells in his memoirs of geting drunk and smashing up the same shop.ukuncut sat it.
or camoron that smoked pot at uniand nearly got booted out of uni for it.

A tad silly for people who did such to moan at shop sit one .?
or is it do as I say not what I do ?

How about you read it this way: there are about 40% of people there who don’t mind cuts but think peaceful protest is cool. Surely this, more than anything else, attests to the fact that people know that peaceful protest is unlikely to have any tangible effects.

21. Chaise Guevara

@ 18 Jacob

I don’t see why – it could just as easily mean that they believe everyone has the right to protest peacefully, regardless of whether they agree with them.

Was this poll about the recent protests or protesting in general

23. Chaise Guevara

@ 22 Dave

“Was this poll about the recent protests or protesting in general”

As far as I can tell from the source, it didn’t ask about the recent protests specifically, which makes the opening sentence of the OP untrue. However, it was carried out over 31/03 – 01/04, so odds are most people were thinking about the recent protests when they answered.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Poll finds 73% fine with #UKuncut protests http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  2. Natacha Kennedy

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  3. Chunkylimey

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  4. Anthony Painter

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  8. .

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  9. Lisa Egan

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  10. Alan Lai

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  11. Bethan Tichborne

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  20. sunny hundal

    Poll finds that 73% of people find @UKuncut style protests "acceptable". Not keen on vandalism though http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  21. Jill Hayward

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  22. rahooligan

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  23. JamieSW

    RT @sunny_hundal: Poll finds that 73% of people find @UKuncut style protests "acceptable". Not keen on vandalism though http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  24. Huw Spanner

    @NemesisRepublic @marinapepper Did you see this? http://bit.ly/e78D1Y Important, if we want to win support, not just express anger.

  25. Craig McIndoe

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  26. UKFreeNews

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  27. Samir Jeraj

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  28. Mark Martin

    RT @sunny_hundal: Poll finds that 73% of people find @UKuncut style protests "acceptable". Not keen on vandalism though http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  29. Joseph O'Brien

    RT @sunny_hundal: Poll finds that 73% of people find @UKuncut style protests "acceptable". Not keen on vandalism though http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  30. WestMonster

    RT @sunny_hundal: Poll finds that 73% of people find @UKuncut style protests "acceptable". Not keen on vandalism though http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  31. Gods & Monsters

    RT @sunny_hundal: Poll finds that 73% of people find @UKuncut style protests "acceptable". Not keen on vandalism though http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  32. bankofcat

    RT @sunny_hundal: Poll finds that 73% of people find @UKuncut style protests "acceptable". Not keen on vandalism though http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  33. sunny hundal

    Turns out @johannhari101 was right though: percentage of public who think breaking windows is OK is nearly 0% – http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  34. Greg

    Less than 1 in 4 support the govt plans. 2 in 3 would prefer an alternative. 73% agree with #UKuncut tactics. YouGov http://bit.ly/fsGWk8

  35. Steve Rooney

    RT @sunny_hundal: Poll finds that 73% of people find @UKuncut style protests "acceptable". Not keen on vandalism though http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  36. Owen Jones

    Nearly three-quarters accept peaceful civil disobedience – a tactic the whole anti-cuts movement can unite behind http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  37. Jack Mcglen

    RT @libcon: Poll: 73% fine with #UKuncut style protests http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  38. Denny

    RT @sunny_hundal: Poll finds that 73% of people find @UKuncut style protests "acceptable". Not keen on vandalism though http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  39. Police State UK

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  40. William Robehod

    RT @sunny_hundal: Poll finds that 73% of people find @UKuncut style protests "acceptable". Not keen on vandalism though http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  41. FloTom

    RT @sunny_hundal http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ <- 93% think violent protest is acceptable The #English have such good sense

  42. LegoDaddy

    RT @libcon: Poll finds 73% fine with #UKuncut protests http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  43. Paul Cunliffe

    73% of poll support #ukuncut style protests http://bit.ly/gYIvLx (via @libcon)

  44. Joe Kittinger

    RT @libcon: Poll finds 73% fine with #UKuncut protests http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  45. Joe Kittinger

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  46. Mike Allen

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  47. Paul Francis

    RT @PauloDiCunnio: 73% of poll support #ukuncut style protests http://bit.ly/gYIvLx (via @libcon)

  48. Rooftop Jaxx

    MT @vacuumcleaner 73% fine w @UKuncut style protests, only 3% w 'FuckShitUp' protests. http://bit.ly/dQLhcF <#NobodyITalkToTalksToPollsters

  49. stephen wesley

    RT @sunny_hundal: Poll finds that 73% of people find @UKuncut style protests "acceptable". Not keen on vandalism though http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  50. Molly

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  51. Oasis Caretaker

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  52. Huw Jordan

    RT @sunny_hundal: Poll finds that 73% of people find @UKuncut style protests "acceptable". Not keen on vandalism though http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  53. paddy

    RT @libcon: Poll finds 73% fine with #UKuncut protests http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  54. False Economy

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  80. Trakgalvis

    Poll: 73% fine with #UKuncut style protests | Liberal Conspiracy http://goo.gl/28CJC

  81. James Leppard

    RT @sunny_hundal: Poll finds that 73% of people find @UKuncut style protests "acceptable". Not keen on vandalism though http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  82. Joe Jordan

    Of internet users? RT @trakgalvis: Poll: 73% fine with #UKuncut style protests http://goo.gl/28CJC

  83. paulstpancras

    Poll: 73% fine with #UKuncut style protests | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/hAagTpA via @libcon

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  85. Jane Ayres

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  86. Stuart White

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  90. David Kirkham

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  91. David Kirkham

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  93. Eve

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  95. chang mei wan

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  96. Martin McGrath

    British people like a bit of peaceful civil disobedience, don't much care for cuts, poll shows http://bit.ly/eFQ7sW

  97. Bristol UKUncut

    RT @martinmcgrath: British people like a bit of peaceful civil disobedience, don't much care for cuts, poll shows http://bit.ly/eFQ7sW

  98. Neil Young

    RT @sunny_hundal: Poll finds that 73% of people find @UKuncut style protests "acceptable". Not keen on vandalism though http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ

  99. Oscar Davies

    @AdsGoFast http://bit.ly/gYIvLx actually 64% oppose these cuts. And how were the coaches tax payer funded

  100. The Black Bloc – a dead end (response to Jonathan Moses) « jonesblog

    […] people. While a poll has shown 73% in support of peaceful civil disobedience, only 3% support actions like smashing windows. To me, this is probably the least surprising finding possible. I don’t understand the […]

  101. littlebrother

    RT @sunny_hundal: Poll finds that 73% of people find @UKuncut style protests "acceptable". Not keen on vandalism though http://bit.ly/hJNdfQ





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