Half empty? Half full? New report reveals Britain's discontent

More of us than ever have bleak expectations, but Kunal Dutta still finds some reasons to be cheerful

Britain is intrinsically pessimistic, more divided and sceptical about the future than at any stage in history, according to a report released this week. The annual survey of public attitudes by the advertising agency McCann London paints a bleak picture of the direction in which the country is heading.

The findings, published exclusively in The IoS today, reveal growing anger at inequality. Living costs are frustrating Britons, the report says, with 58 per cent of respondents citing it as the source of their problems, compared with 46 per cent in 2009. In total, 78 per cent of the 1,000 people surveyed were "angrier nowadays" than ever, with almost half believing their needs were "ignored by the Government".

And an ICM poll in today's News of the World says two-thirds of voters believe that the UK economy is getting worse, with half the people questioned thinking David Cameron and George Osborne are doing a bad job of running the economy. Over half (53 per cent) said they felt poorer than two years ago.

The McCann report says: "In the boom years we didn't necessarily care whether corporations were paying their fair share of taxes, or whether MPs were being creative with expenses ... As long as we were moving in the right direction, growing inequality didn't seem to matter."

Its vision of the future is also particularly bleak, with just 26 per cent of people agreeing with the statement that "when today's 25-year-olds reach 50, they will be better off than today's 50-year-olds are".

The annual Moody Britain report, to be launched on Tuesday, coincides with research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that shows sizeable increases in the amount people need to earn to achieve an acceptable standard of living. "For working families with children in particular, it's getting much harder to do so," said the foundation's Chris Goulden.

Dean Ashraf, head of consumer trends at McCann London and author of the Moody Britain report, said: "It is painful to see with the strikes now: these are essentially public sector workers who have been sold a dream, that they'll be able to retire at a certain age or live a way of life enjoyed by their predecessors, that is looking increasingly unlikely – if not impossible."

However, not all the survey's respondents have given up hope for a brighter future. Here, some of them anticipate what the good life could be like in 2020.

Case studies

Sam Raper, School bursar

Sam, 45, lives with her husband and three children in south Manchester

"I would like to see the Government take tax away from fuel and see an increase in electric cars. The education system has to be addressed. At the moment, university fees look set to skyrocket and the future is dependent on a good education. By 2020 the country has to be heading somewhere and not find itself stuck. I would like to see either the Conservatives or Liberals leading the country, with Britain made a financial priority over Europe. The whole benefits culture has to change. This at the moment is adding to a distinct sense of being stuck in a transition phase."

Cara Dodd, Shop supervisor

Cara, 26, is a shop supervisor from Portsmouth who lives with her partner

"I want to see jobs for the people who want them, more safety and security, and a sense of community cohesion. It would be nice to be able to walk down the street and talk to people, without feeling like you're going to get attacked or assaulted. The elderly need to be better looked after, especially as many of them gave their lives to helping us. As I grow up I'd like to feel that in the future I would have a house as well as a stable job that gives me the right amount of hours to work hard, as well as enjoy other things in life like a family."

Malcolm Kirby, retired

Malcolm, 70, is the chairman of the National Voice for Coastal Communities in Norfolk

"I want to see a society that invests in its young people and ensures everyone has an equal opportunity. I am highly sceptical of the Big Society idea, which seems like the Government just abdicating all responsibility. It risks propelling us into a broken society in a couple of years' time. We saw this happen with the financial crash, when the Government gave the banking community too much autonomy. I would like to see us look back and say times were tough, but we have come through it, learned from it and are more socially, ethically and community minded than we were before."

Abdellah Hmamouche, student

Abdellah, 20, is studying international relations and politics at the University of East Anglia. He lives in west London

"I want to see more people financially secure and the levels of inequality reduced. My father came to this country from Morocco and built a life here, yet in some ways I feel I will have it harder because jobs are harder to come by. There is a growing underclass that I would like to see addressed before Britain becomes like America, where the class divides are too massive to truly address. The very rich should be taxed at a much higher rate for a fair standard of living. I want to look back at this time as a moment in Britain's history, not a permanent situation. After a few years, things should look more promising."

Margaret Morrell, retired optometrist

Margaret, 65, lives in Devon with her husband



"I want to see people more satisfied and content with their lot in life. We always learned to live within our means. This is a beautiful country and people who want to live here should realise that. People on welfare need to see that there are jobs out there, while those striking need to see that they are lucky to be in employment. If you get made redundant, be more resilient and deal with it. I was made redundant many times and we simply picked ourselves up and moved on. Children are stuck indoors far too much. I'd like to see them encouraged to be outside. The Government should introduce initiatives to encourage children to play outside."

Are you a pessimist or an optimist? From inner joy to murderous rage

Anthony Seldon, historian, half full

"The discovery of inner joy which is utterly non-dependent on life circumstance, jobs, success or relationships is what makes me hugely optimistic for the future. There is something within every human being that is joyful and totally harmonious."

Nicky Phillips, artist, half empty

"You are less likely to be disappointed if you are pessimistic. I think the older I get the more cynical I become. Certain little issues such as the future of the future of the euro or the motivation of politicians has left me unsure."

Denis Healey, former chancellor , half full

"I would say I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the future – I don't think that is the attitude to take. I am a pragmatist. But I'd describe myself as taking the glass is half full kind of attitude."

Michael Winner, film director, half empty

"There are far too many people here, and most of them are the wrong ones. I'd be a lot more optimistic if half the population was killed off - it seems we let in every child trafficker and drug dealer, and no longer have the power to get them out."

Sport
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Life and Style
life“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

PHP Web Developer (HTML5, CSS3, Jenkins, Vagrant, MySQL)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: PHP Web Develo...

Network Engineer (CCNA, CCNP, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£40000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNA, CCNP, Linux, OSPF,...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice