Popularity of spending on war and foreign policy on the wane

March 05, 2010, 2:26 AM GMT+0

A high proportion of British adults think the government spends too much on foreign policy and defence, a poll for Strathclyde University and Leeds University has found.

2628 people were asked to rank Government spending on sectors of British foreign policy.

More people felt that spending on foreign policy was too high than too low, 39% and 21% respectively. Interestingly, though, the young are more generous, with the 18-34s most in favour of increasing spending (28%). 47% of the over-fifties age group thought that Government spending was already too high – only 16% were in favour of increasing the budget.

The widespread perception that government spending in foreign development is too high may be symptomatic of the global economic downturn and the effect it has had on the British economy, with older people over 35, who may be more likely to have more responsibilities and higher incomes, perhaps feeling the most indignant.

It could also be part and parcel of a hostile attitude to spending outside British borders primarily motivated by a possibly unwillingness to countenance American-led activities, namely in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nearly two thirds (68%) of UK adults proclaim that British financial support of American military initiatives is too high; only five percent think it is not.

This anti-military sentiment continues to resonate throughout the poll. When asked about the UK’s expenditure on nuclear deterrents, the general consensus among panelists was, once again, that the Government was over-spending. 36% opted for this, versus 13% who thought the government didn’t spend enough on this.

And when asked whether the best way to ensure peace was through military strength, the largest proportion (36%) totally disagreed. In fact, in line with recent media coverage, the only military sector which panelists deemed as grossly under financed was the equipping of the nation’s armed forces. A massive 74% felt that British troops were ill equipped.

For survey and full results, please click here