In the hours after the polls closed the TUC and GQRR put a survey into the field to help understand the challenges Labour faces. Today we and the TUC are publishing that poll, which reveals voters feeling about Labour, the Conservatives and key election themes and policies. Our initial analysis of the data, published by the New Statesman, is here.
The poll’s findings underline the difficulties Labour now faces, and provides a rich source of information for the party as it chooses a new leader.
The poll found wide variation in vote between different demographics:
- 18-34 year-olds voted for Labour by 39 to 30, with UKIP and the Greens each getting 8 per cent. The conservative dominated among 55+s, winning 47 to 24, UKIP picking up 14 per cent.
- There was a significant gender gap, with men voting Conservative by 39 to 29, but only retaining a small advantage among women, 36 to 34.
- 13 per cent of voters considered voting Labour but then ultimately chose a different party. 35 per cent of this group went to the Conservatives, 23 to the Liberal Democrats, 17 to UKIP and 14 to the Greens.
The key challenges facing Labour are dealing with its economic legacy and recovering a reputation for competence.
- While voters are more likely to think Labour is on the side of ordinary people than the Tories (by 61 to 30) they are much less likely to see the party as competent. The Conservative score among voters is 57 to Labour’s 31.
- The Conservatives are seen to have a good track record in government by 54 per cent of voters, perhaps explained by the fact that 60 per cent think the economy is improving and more think their personal finances are improving than think they are getting worse.
- Labour’s competence gap appears partly explained by the perceived legacy of the last Labour government. Just 27 per cent of voters think Labour has a good track record in government.
- Labour is 39 points behind on economic trust despite the fact that voters prefer both an investment/skills alternative and a middle incomes/living standards argument to right wing deficit/red tape/tax arguments.
- The biggest doubts of those who considered voting Labour but didn’t were spending and the threat of the SNP. Just 8 per cent of this group say their biggest doubts included that Labour is ‘hostile to aspiration, success and people who want to get on’.
Other important findings for the leadership contenders to bear in mind include:
- More than three quarters (77 per cent) of voters are looking for ‘concrete plans for sensible change’ rather than ‘a big vision for radical change’ from political parties (15 per cent).
- By 42 to 22 voters thought Labour was too soft on big business, not too tough; rising to 50 to 15 among voters who considered Labour. By 46 to 35 voters thought Lab should increase taxes on the rich rather than worry about driving investors abroad.
- Voters want Labour to be tougher on immigration rather than more positive (by 62 to 20), and a similar margin exists on welfare. Celebrating British identity trumps the desire to keep flag-waving out of politics.
- Voters would rather see Labour end post code lotteries in public services than devolve power away from Westminster (by 58 to 21).
- Labour’s strengths are being seen to be on the side of ordinary people (a 31 point lead over the Conservatives among voters) and the NHS (a 17 point lead).
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We commissioned this poll having no idea of the election outcome. But the unexpected result means that there will be much wider interest, and we are pleased to put its results into the public domain. It will be fascinating to see how Labour’s leadership candidates respond to some very challenging findings, just as we can see other parties acting on the same issues that their own polls will have revealed.
“What comes through is that this poll offers no simple set of solutions for a new Labour leader – the attitudes revealed are a fascinating mix that shows voters are on the left on some issues and on the right on others.
“The challenges Labour now faces are very different from those in the past. Voters back a lot of the trade union agenda on living standards and an economic policy based on investment and growth, rather than the deep cuts we now face. But on welfare and immigration their views are very challenging.
“Interestingly, voters are not greatly worried about Labour being against aspiration or anti-business, despite these emerging as themes in Labour’s post mortem. But they did see Labour as a risk and doubted their competence to run the economy, despite being unenthusiastic about Conservative cuts.
“There is no simple formula for a Labour victory here. But to find a route, the party will need to start with the kind of map this poll provides.”
Pollster and GQRR Partner James Morris said: “The Labour leadership election has rightly focused on the need to re-establish Labour’s reputation for competence. This poll suggests that solving that problem requires a reckoning with the party’s perceived record. Voters are twice as likely to see the Tories as having a good track record in government as the Labour Party, with doubts about Labour’s approach to spending and immigration particularly concerning for voters.
“At the same time, the next leader will need to make a strong and consistent argument about the future. This poll suggests Labour can have a winning argument on growth rooted in investment, education and middle-out economics.
“By a margin of 20 per cent, voters are more likely to think Labour is too soft on ‘big business and the banks’ than ‘too tough.
“They will also need to deal with issues of identity, where voters want a more patriotic party but not necessarily more localism.
“Finally, they will need to find new ways to reach out to voter groups the party struggles with, in particular older men.”
- GQRR conducted an online poll of 4669 respondents in Great Britain. The survey fielded from 10pm on 7 May to 12 May. The data was weighted to be nationally representative across age, gender, region, ethnicity and social grade. The data was further weighted such that voters’ reported vote in the survey matches the real result in the 2015 election. The sample contained a boosted total of 979 respondents in Scotland, weighted down to be nationally representative, giving a weighted total of 4049 respondents.