What the public thinks

Despite a dominant right wing press and a broken election system that consistently results in the Conservative party winning power far more often than Labour, the public continue to remain broadly centre-left in their values and aspirations – as you will see from the data below. The data is a sample of a much larger report by the organisation Common Ground which brings together detailed polling data.

We invite Labour, Green and Liberal Democrats party supporters and members to examine public support for the different policies outlined below and to answer two questions:

-Do their party manifesto commitments broadly align with public aspirations set out below?

-If so, why do centre left parties find it so difficult to work together given the huge challenges we as a country face? And what can be done?

You can leave a reply at the bottom.

Climate Change

Policies that find common groundVoter Support
(for information sources click the text)All voters progressive
A Green New Deal for green jobs and infrastructure74%—-
A government run Green Investment Bank49%60%
Frequent flyer levies68%76%
Greater investment in flood defences61%69%

Why do this?


Policies that find common groundVoter Support
(for information sources click the text)All voters progressive
Build more social housing71%77%
Additional tax on second and empty homes67%74%
Introduction of rent controls74%82%
Strengthen the rights of private renters79%

Why do this?


Policies that find common groundVoter Support
(for information sources click the text)All voters progressive
Minimum wage rising gradually to £15 per hour65%73%
Ban zero-hours contracts56%63%
A job guarantee for everyone who can work72%71%

Why do this?

Utilities and rail

Policies that find common groundVoter Support
(for information sources click text)All voters progressive
Nationalisation of rail companies67%77%
Nationalisation of water companies69%—–
Nationalisation of energy companies66%—-
Nationalisation of royal mail68%

Why do this?

Tax and the economy

Policies that find common groundVoter Support
(click text to see information sources)All voters progressive
A tax on wealth over £750,000 (excl pension and home)63% 71%
10p Income Tax increase on earnings over £100k65%72%
Higher corporation tax rate68%78%
Closing loopholes to stop wealthy avoiding tax87%90%

Why do this?

3 responses to “What the public thinks”

  1. You ask why parties find it hard to work together. I think that if a Labour Prime Minister brought these policies to Parliament, many of them would receive the support of Lib Dems MPs, but working together in Parliament is very different to working together during an election campaign!
    Whilst each of these policies taken on their own are popular with a majority of voters, each one creates winners and losers, and voters will often vote *against* a party with ten policies they supports because of *one* policy they oppose.
    Each different policy adds a different cohort to the pool of opponents, and the FPTP voting system requires progressive parties to compete against one another for the progressive votes, as well as trying to top up their tally by pulling in some conservative voters.
    The overall package also has to stack up financially: If we’re going to nationalise everything, build social housing, build flood defences, invest in green stuff, increase foreign aid, support Ukraine against Putin, subsidise energy bills, give everyone a guaranteed job and introduce a £15 minimum wage we’re either going to have to borrow so much that we break the bond market, or raise so much tax that voters start to worry it’s not going to just hit the top 1%, but will end up hitting the average middle-income voter too.
    That’s why parties usually try to calibrate their manifesto offers to include just enough to differentiate themselves from the opposition and not include so much that they sound implausible.
    Many voters also have strong feelings about one particular party they would “never vote for”. I need to pick up the votes of “soft Conservatives” who would “never vote Labour” and soft Labour voters who would “never vote Conservative”. Standing on an overtly joint platform with Labour would alienate one of these groups.
    There are many seats around the country where the Lib Dems are the main opposition to Labour. If we have identical manifestos, how are we meant to run an election campaign against one another?!


  2. It is difficult to the public to understand common ground amongst progressive parties because investigative journalism and local political reporting have taken a back seat in recent years. Even at a UK level (for example) a recent Kuensberg on Sunday programme had half a dozen centre/right guests and Keir Starmer. Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens are under-represented in coverage – and that is just the BBC and ITV. The right wing press are allowed to churn out their bile and lies in the ironic name of press freedom. Many of the listed policies are misrepresented by said papers: ie people would like to have X but fear the consequence of Y.

    The second issue is trust. People across parties need to work together to achieve common goals. This means reducing in some cases personal ambition and accepting that territory you once held or had a chance in is now lost ‘forever’. If ‘progressive’ parties end up doing things which are not progressive (like privatisation or tuition fees) their voters loose heart.


  3. First question: having had had a situation several years ago where I needed to compare a list of “asks” by a Citizens panel against Liberal Democrat policies, I can say that current policies align with or are close to most of those outlined.

    Second question: I agree with and can’t add much to what Colin Martin said in this response. In terms of campaigning in local or national elections, a typical voter doorstep question is, “Ok, I don’t want to vote Tory but why should I vote for you rather than Joanna Bloggs?” So although party platforms may be (and having talked widely to activists across the spectrum) pretty much similar *where it comes to viable, costed policies which could be justified & defended in media interviews* , in our system (particularly in an FPTP situation) you have to find ways to differentiate your “brand” from the other brands.

    Differences between parties obviously run deeper than that, and there’s also a territoriality involved- parties are emotionally invested in constituencies they have spent decades campaigning for, and are to a great extent beholden to long-standing and fiercely loyal supporters who’ve provided money and time. The word “tribal” has been used as a descriptive in this context: tribal is not necessarily a pejorative term, it’s describing the way groups of people bond and work together to achieve a common purpose.
    The allegiances involved, looking at political activity at grassroots level, are held by smallish numbers of people but very strongly- if there are common approaches to be negotiated, it’s probably easier to achieve at levels higher up the hierarchies, but then there’s always the prospect that local groups will defy the higher authority!


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