Poll shows majority support for 'strong leader' in UK

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More than half of British people think the UK's society is broken (56%) and the nation is in decline (57%), and a majority feel a "strong leader" is needed to turn the country around, according to a new survey.

The Ipsos Mori poll found low levels of trust among British voters in the Government - with 66% saying they had little or no confidence in it - political parties (79%), big companies (68%), banks (67%) and the media (75%).

More than two thirds of those questioned (67%) agreed the UK needs "a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful" and half (50%) wanted "a strong leader willing to break the rules".

In a measure of the appeal of "populist" politics, a majority (65%) said they would be attracted by a political leader or party who "stands up for the common people against the elite", while 64% said they preferred "outspoken" politicians and 46% said they would be ready to back leaders who "say what they think, even if it offends others".

Almost four in 10 (38%) said they would favour a leader or party that prioritised people born in their own country.

Some 44% said they would be more likely to vote for someone who wanted to radically change the status quo, compared to just 17% who were attracted by leaders or parties having been in power before.

Over two-thirds of Britons questioned (67%) said the economy was rigged in favour of the rich and powerful and 58% did not believe politicians cared about them.

More than a third (36%) said that they feel like "a stranger in their own country".

The survey showed support for controls on immigration, with 67% of Britons saying it should not be completely uncontrolled. But only 31% said the UK would be stronger if immigration was stopped altogether. 

Almost half (48%) said employers should prioritise hiring UK nationals over immigrants, but the proportion backing this policy fell to 30% if it resulted in slower job growth. 

Concern over terrorism resulted in 43% of Britons saying it should be stopped "at all costs", even if it meant ignoring people's civil rights.

However, some "pluralist" positions were also found to be popular, with 69% more likely to vote for someone who "listens to alternative points of view", 55% someone ready to make compromises and 53% someone who will stand up for minorities.

The figures emerged from a 23-nation Global Adviser survey, which found a majority (58%) seeing their own society as "broken" - with the highest levels of discontent in Poland (79%), Spain (78%) and Brazil (77%).

Even among the populations most satisfied with their country's condition, almost one-third (31% in Japan, 32% in Israel and India) said society was broken.

Appetite for a "strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful" averaged 63% and was strongest in Mexico (81%) with Spain (72%),  France (70%) and the USA (69%) not far behind.

Some 80% of those questioned in France, which will choose a new president in the spring, said they wanted a "strong leader willing to break the rules" - well above the international average of 49%.

Ipsos Mori's research director Gideon Skinner said: "These findings reveal a worrying lack of confidence in the traditional political establishment around the world - although it was probably never that high - and not much more confidence in other key institutions such as the media, courts, or big business either."

:: Ipsos Mori interviewed 16,597 adults in 23 countries - including 1,004 in the UK - between October 21 and November 4 2016.