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Pictures: Huge protest balloon appears over Nottingham for leaders’ debate

The balloon was launched by campaign group 38 Degrees and funded by hundreds of members of the public.

A giant hot air balloon with political messages was flown over Nottingham this evening (26 June) very close to Nottingham Trent University where two party leaders were about to do a live TV debate.

On one side it said “Cost of Living Soaring” and on the other side it said “NHS Waiting lists Sky-High”.

A small blimp hanging below the basket reads “No More Hot Air FIX IT!”. Photos were taken at 7.45 pm about half an hour before the live TV debate was starting. Registration of the balloon is G-CMNN and according to the CAA website this is owned by THE HOT AIR BALLOON COMPANY (GLOBAL) LTD, ASHFORD, TN23 1FB.

A spokesperson for 38 Degrees said:

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‘With a week to go until the general election, more than half the population are losing sleep over money worries, a majority of the British public believe that the NHS is in a state of crisis, and one in three people say they or a family member are on an NHS waiting list, new polling released today shows.

137A3527 balloon pictured over Nottingham not far from Nottingham Trent University where leaders debate being filmed 26 June photo Robin Macey
© Robin Macey

The poll of over 7,000 people, conducted by Survation for campaign group 38 Degrees, is being released ahead of the final head to head leaders debate which takes place in Nottingham tonight.

137A3532 balloon pictured over Nottingham not far from Nottingham Trent University where leaders debate being filmed 26 June photo Robin Macey scaled
© Robin Macey

‘With the twin crises in the NHS and the cost of living looming large in most people’s minds, 38 Degrees launched a hot air balloon, emblazoned with the messages ‘cost of living: soaring’ and ‘NHS waiting times: sky high’ over the Nottingham skies in a bid to focus the debate on these issues. It bears a clear message: “no more hot air” – a real solution is needed to these pressing problems.

Balloon Notts01 scaled
Lucy Ray/PA Media Assignments

Pollsters used multilevel regression and post-stratification (MRP) – a technique used by Survation to correctly call 94% of seats in the 2019 General Election – to calculate responses for every constituency in the UK.

Balloon Notts03 scaled
Lucy Ray/PA Media Assignments

In what has been dubbed ‘the cost of living election’, nearly half of voters (49%) shared that money worries had kept them awake at night several times over the last two years. 18% said this has happened ‘often’, 31% ‘sometimes’. In total 70% of the population had lost sleep over money at some point during the last two years (21% had done so ‘rarely’) with less than a third of people (28%) answering ‘never’. The rate was higher in many constituencies: in Nottingham East, 54% had lost sleep ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’, while Birmingham Ladywood saw the highest rate in the country (62%).

‘Meanwhile, the poll also showed the breadth of impact of the NHS waiting lists crisis, with the impact spreading beyond the 6.3million people on the list. Across the country, 35% of people revealed they were directly impacted by waiting lists, saying that either they, or a member of their family was on a waiting list – but in shadow health secretary Wes Streeting’s constituency, the figure rose to 41%.

‘A majority of voters (59%) either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that, based on their experience “our NHS is in a state of crisis” , with this figure 62% amongst Rishi Sunak’s constituents. Nationally, the figure shot up to 77% when only asked of those who had personally used the NHS in the last 12 months.

With the NHS and cost of living consistently ranking highest on the issues voters are prioritising, the campaign group is taking to the Nottingham skies, flying a hot air balloon funded by the public over tonight’s leaders debate represents a  final effort to focus politicians’ attention on these issues.


Matthew McGregor, CEO of 38 Degrees, said:


“This election is about two issues: the cost of living crisis and saving the NHS. It is on these two issues that people vote on 4 July and on both issues the results of this polling are dire. Huge numbers of people in every constituency across the country are lying awake at night worrying about their family finances, and languishing in pain and anxiety on NHS waiting lists.

“Throughout the campaign, we’ve seen plenty of ‘hot air’, but many voters still aren’t feeling confident that the candidates truly understand what they’re going through. By flying our balloon across Nottingham’s skies, we’re sending a clear message from the public.

“Whoever wins the next election must show that they understand the scale of the challenge so many people are facing. They will have to be bold and ambitious in bringing about change, so that we can all afford to live a little again, and be confident our beloved NHS can be there for us when we need it. Party leaders have a final chance to look up, speak up, and show voters that they get it.”


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