Most of the British public want their government to spy on other governments - and four out of five say it is normal for spying to happen at international conferences
News that the British government was spying on delegates at the 2009 G20 summit has been described by commentators as ‘embarrassing’ for David Cameron. However new YouGov research can reveal that most of the British public are unsurprised by the revelation, and would rather other governments were spied on anyway.
Four out of five (79%) say that spying like this “is probably normal – I expect most governments spy on each other at conferences”, while just one in ten are surprised. However the young, growing up in times less acquainted to espionage, are less expectant of spying, with only 65% of 18-24 year olds saying it is normal compared to around 84% of those aged forty and over.
Even in principle spying has support. Most (51%) say that “in general” they “would rather the British government did spy on other governments”, while half as many (24%) would rather they did not. Labour supporters, though, whose former leader Gordon Brown was governing at the time, are the only group with less than a majority (49%) in favour of spying.
Turkey is one of the nations believed to have been tapped; their foreign ministry says: "This will constitute a scandal in terms of relations between the two countries if any truth is found in the allegations." David Cameron has refused to comment on the claims: “We never comment on security or intelligence issues and I am not about to start now.”