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Exploring the political stories that the public really notice

It has been an eventful few weeks for both sides of the House.

Jeremy Corbyn has been under fire once more over his handling of antisemitism allegations within the Labour Party, while the Windrush scandal ultimately led to the resignation of Amber Rudd, the home secretary.

But who has been paying attention? Every week, Populus conducts a poll to find out which news story, political or otherwise, the public have paid most attention to during the course of that week. Here we share with Red Box the results for April.

The Windrush scandal has broken through — to an extent. It became the most noticed news story at the end of April, beating even the birth of Prince Louis. It was a busy week, however, and only 22 per cent of the public chose it as their top story. Perhaps more notably, the Labour antisemitism row continues to have relatively little cut-through.

Its share of attention peaked at 4 per cent in early April. Even after MPs publically denounced the antisemitic abuse they had experienced and Corbyn staged a “crunch meeting” with Jewish leaders, no more than 1 per cent of the public said they had paid most attention to these developments.

Both these stories gained a lower share of interest than the poisoning of a former Russian spy on British soil, a story which grabbed the public’s attention more than any other so far this year, and the international reaction to the Syrian chemical attack.

We should bear in mind that the stories that have gripped the nation in the last month have not been Westminstercentric, but have been those in which the transgressions of foreign powers have apparently threatened security and stability at home and abroad.

This does not mean the public doesn’t care about antisemitism in politics or immigration removal targets, but it does mean its attention has for the most part been diverted.

Populus interviewed a nationally representative sample of at least 2,000 British adults aged 18 and over each week, and asked what news story they had noticed the most. The question was open-ended and participants could name any story.


Will Clothier

Will is a Senior Research Executive at Populus where he has delivered stakeholder research projects for household names across a range of sectors including sport, telecoms, culture, food, and leisure – advising clients on the views of politicians, journalists, and industry leaders. Recent stakeholder clients include the Premier League and BT.

He researches public opinion quantitatively and qualitatively for political organisations, government departments, and businesses. Recently he has analysed public attitudes towards ‘populist’ economic policies post-Brexit, and the political attitudes of voters in different parts of the country. He works within Populus’s Reputation and Strategy division, having joined the company as a Research Executive. He graduated from Durham University with a first class degree in English Literature and holds the Market Research Society Advanced Certificate with a double merit.


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