Two thirds of Londoners support the idea of Britain having a “strongman” leader who does not have to bother with parliament according to a new survey, the largest percentage found in any part of the country.
The same survey also found that Londoners are more likely than people elsewhere in Britain to favour the country being ruled by the army, although this was the view of a 42% minority.
At the same time, Londoners emerged from the survey as the most supportive of “a democratic political system”, with 87% expressing that view and as the only group that does not feel that Britain has moved significantly away from it culturally or economically in the last decade, in striking contrast with the rest of the country.
The findings form part of a nationwide poll of over 5,000 people conducted by Hanbury Strategy for centre-right think tank Onward into “the politics of belonging” within a shifting national political loyalties landscape.
Those for London about “strongmen” and “army rule” appear to be at odds with a widespread characterisation of the capital as a stronghold of liberal social and economic values, but also follow a study published a year ago, which found that the percentage of people who believe pre-marital sex and homosexuality are wrong is higher among Londoners than people who live in other regions of England, Scotland or Wales.
Hanbury’s report on its findings describes London as “the most authoritarian part of the country” and says this is likely to reflect “its younger and ethnically diverse population” – under-35s across the country are described as “considerably more authoritarian than older generations”.
The 2018 study, carried out for Trust for London by NatCen Social Research, attributed the relatively high incidence of conservative views about pre-marital sex and homosexuality among Londoners to religious affiliation and associated values. The same research found that more Londoners (33%) had authoritarian attitudes about the death penalty, censorship and “respect for traditional British values” than had liberal ones (20%).
Hanbury’s research reveals a range of large differences of outlook between Londoners and fellow Britons elsewhere. For example, support for army rule runs at just 17% in the north east of England, although support for a “strongman” leader is at more than 50% everywhere.
The north east also had the largest percentage of people who think the country has moved away from them both economically and culturally and the smallest percentage thinking the opposite. Scotland, Wales and every other English region also showed substantial majorities of people thinking the country has moved further from their views.
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