In the latest Economist/Ipsos Mori Issues poll, just one per cent of those surveyed in the UK thought defence/foreign affairs/international terrorism was the most important issue facing Britain today, and only 6 per cent thought it was one of the important issues facing the country. This is the lowest level since just before 9/11; in 2000.
Contrast this with key moments over the last ten years when these issues have dominated. In 2002, defence / foreign affairs / international terrorism jumped to 7th place, with 3 per cent thinking it was the most important issue and 11 per cent feeling it was one of the most important ones, with the NHS/hospitals predictably in first place (with 42 per cent and 72 per cent). By 2006, it ranked 2nd (with 22 per cent and 38 per cent respectively), ahead of the NHS/hospitals which had dropped to 3rd place.
Today’s results are a reminder of how much the last decade has been an anomaly in terms of public interest in foreign policy and security matters. I can’t help wondering how quickly and by how much the UK national security budget will be cut after the London Olympic Games pass without incident…