Polls in the UK continue to show widespread support for Western sanctions against Russia. Yet as always with polling, the devil is in the detail.
At the end of October, Ipsos carried out a poll for Sky News asking Britons whether they support Western sanctions against Russia. 70% said they did, which is only 8 points lower than the figure for March. This suggests the vast majority of people are still onboard.
However, Ipsos then asked respondents whether they support sanctions even if the sanctions lead to higher energy prices (which they clearly do). Here, the change since March was much starker:
Now, less than half of respondents say they support sanctions, and almost a third actively oppose them. Compare this to March, when the figures were 73% and 8%, respectively.
It’s unclear what accounts for the disparity between the percentage who support sanctions and the percentage who support them if they lead to higher energy prices – a disparity that barely existed back in March. One possibility is that people still support the general idea, but they’re increasingly concerned about costs.
Digging into the tables, you find that the strongest predictor of support for sanctions is age. Almost 50% of those aged 55–75 support sanctions even if they lead to higher energy prices, compared to just 28% of 16–24 year olds.
In a previous article, I suggested this age divide stems from memories of the Cold War. Older generations still see Russia as ‘enemy number one’, whereas younger generations know it as just another corrupt, authoritarian country.