Peter Hoskin

Public in favour of ringfencing defence spending

Public in favour of ringfencing defence spending
Text settings

A timely poll from PoliticsHome which finds that two-thirds of the public think defence should be protected from any spending cuts.  Here's their graphic with full results:

The question, of course, is whether this kind of public pressure forces any of the main parties to actually shield defence from cuts.  With the debt burden as it is, its difficult to see them doing so while also sticking to their current commitments in other areas.

Ok, just to provide a bit of context in the wake of some thought-provoking comments from CoffeeHousers below.  Yes, there could well be two extraneous factors at play here: a) the prominence of Afghanistan in the news agenda, which probably gives defence spending greater prominence in people's minds, and b) if you ask people whether they want a spending area ringfenced in isolation other spending considerations, they may be more likely to say "yes" - i.e. the same people could say the same about health next week, and so on through education, development, welfare etc. 

With this in mind, it's worth returning to an Ipsos MORI poll from a couple of weeks ago: it found that found that defence came third (behind overseas aid and benefit payments) in a list of "prime candidates for cuts".  As always, one or two polls can't seal a case either way - but it will be fascinating to see whether the tragic events of the past two weeks have caused a permanent change in public opinion on defence spending.