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Last Updated: Friday, 5 October 2007, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
Poll Watch: September 2007
Queue outside Northern Rock

In the latest monthly Poll Watch, the BBC's political research editor David Cowling casts his expert eye over September's political opinion polls.

September was dominated by the annual party conference season and growing anticipation that a general election might be in the offing.

The month started with a ComRes poll for the BBC's Big Questions programme (sampled 31 August-2 September) in which 83% of respondents thought Britain "is experiencing a moral decline" and 62% thought religion "has an important role to play in the moral guidance of the nation".

Populus/Times (sampled 31 August-2 September) sought opinions about responsibility for anti-social teenagers and gang violence.

Parents blamed

Some 63% placed a great deal of blame on the parents of the children involved, 38% on economic deprivation in urban areas and 35% on the decline in marriage and increased family breakdown.

Teachers and the education system were judged to be as great deal to blame by only 13%.

A ComRes poll for the anti-abortion pressure group "Life" found that whilst 68% supported the view that the upper time limit for abortion should be reduced to 13 weeks (including 72% of women respondents), 53% agreed with the statement that "abortion is a necessary evil".

A quick turn around poll by Populus for The Times (sampled 17 September among 504 respondents) looked at issues surrounding the Northern Rock crisis.

Economy forecast

When invited to allocate blame for the problems experienced by the bank, 20% blamed the Labour government "a great deal" but 42% blamed the financial problems in the American mortgage market (29% blamed the management of Northern Rock).

Asked whether the Bank of England should guarantee the financial stake of various groups in banks or lending bodies, whilst respondents were overwhelmingly in favour of support for depositors, when it came to shareholders their views were evenly divided - 48% said they should have Bank of England support, compared with 47% who thought they should not.

Populus also asked respondents how far they thought the economy would fare over the next year for the country as a whole and 52% thought it would go well (45% said badly).

The volatility of recent months should remind us that the real test comes when voters are confronted with a choice between parties and potential governments at polling stations throughout the United Kingdom

However, when asked how the economy would fare for "you and your family", some 61% answered "well", compared with 33% who said "badly".

On a similar theme, ICM for BBC Newsnight (sampled 19-20 September) asked whether respondents were confident about their own financial position over the next few months and 71% said they were, compared with 26% who said they were not.

Mori in The Sun (sampled 20-22 September) focused on Europe. Eight out of ten thought any decision to sign "the EU Constitutional Treaty" should be decided by a referendum rather than by Parliament.

And when asked how they would vote in such a referendum, 38% said against, 32% said they would vote for and 30% said they either would not vote or did not know.

There has been some suggestion that any such referendum should really ask if the British people want to stay in the EU or leave it.

Mori asked this precise question and found 51% who supported staying in the EU and 39% who would vote to leave it.

On the feverish political front there was a great swathe of voting intention polls.

Prior to the Conservative Party Conference these polls suggested a sustained strong performance by Labour, the Conservatives making no real headway and the Lib Dems being squeezed in the middle.

But the volatility of recent months should remind us that the real test comes when voters are confronted with a choice between parties and potential governments at polling stations throughout the United Kingdom.

When that decision becomes real rather than hypothetical the polls will become very interesting.

Poll Watch: August 2007
04 Sep 07 |  Politics
Poll Watch: July 2007
01 Aug 07 |  Politics
Poll Watch: June 2007
03 Jul 07 |  Politics
Poll Watch: May 2007
30 May 07 |  Politics

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