Election 2015: Your big issues

Ballot box

We know what the politicians want. They want your votes. They want to be elected. But what do YOU want in this electoral contest?

We decided to ask. As we have done at past elections, we commissioned an opinion poll in an effort to discover what the big issues are for you as the campaign intensifies.

For our survey, Ipsos Mori sought the views of 1,042 voters in Scotland. Polling was conducted between 19 and 25 March. The margin of error is plus or minus three points.

Public spending

The pollsters asked folk to rank a series of policies. A score of one meant: dreadful idea, don't touch it. A score of 10 meant: great idea, do it now. And points in between, generating an average score for each policy.

So what do we learn? In general, it seems that you favour the protection of public spending, perhaps ahead of tax cuts or eliminating the deficit.

Image copyright PA

But you appear to like targeted public spending. For example, the most popular policy in our survey was increasing the minimum wage for those aged 21 and over. Just behind that, a guarantee that old age pensions will rise over the next five years.

Perhaps this explains why the issue of the minimum wage has been so salient in this election contest - and reinforces the impression that a politician seeking popularity will take care in dealing with the question of pensions.

Also included the poll, the general proposal that public spending should be increased - even if that means failing to eliminate the deficit by 2020, the end of the next Westminster Parliament.

Reducing taxes

That is still popular but seems to rank below the top policies which are more specific. A sign, perhaps, that voters favour precise public spending priorities rather than generalisation?

Apparently down the list, below the mid point, two other notions. One, that the deficit should be eliminated by 2020 even if that means reduced spending on public services. Two, reducing taxes even if that means cutting public services. Seems those find less favour from you, the voters.

Still on the economy, voters seem to like the Labour notion of freezing energy prices. They're also pretty keen, it appears, on a Mansion Tax on top-price homes: advocated by the Liberal Democrats and Labour, backed by the SNP in Commons votes.

It appears you're also mostly in favour of reinstating the 50p rate of tax for those earning more than £150,000 a year. A Labour idea, that's now endorsed by the SNP.

Fascinating picture

Down the list a bit - but still just above the mid point in popularity - is the idea of a cap on the total amount paid in welfare benefits to a household. The Conservatives want to tighten the cap still further.

You're a bit less interested, it appears, in reducing the amount the government borrows by cutting spending rather than increasing taxes.

And you're not all that content with the idea of charging better-off older people for some things which are currently free for all in the upper age group.

In all, a fascinating picture. An intriguing combination. And an opportunity to stimulate still further this remarkable election contest.

Look out for more on Wednesday. On Scotland's constitutional future; on the EU; on immigration; and on Trident.

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