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Bright Blue, the independent think tank for defending and improving liberal society, together with Yonder Data Solutions, has today published new polling analysis of UK public attitudes towards the performance of the last Conservative Government and their perceptions of the priorities and effectiveness of the new Labour Government.

The polling analysis, titled, Great expectations? Public perceptions and expectations for the incoming Government, reveals that the UK public is united in its poor assessment of the last 14 years of Conservative Government and is generally optimistic about the Labour Government’s policy priorities.

The key findings from the polling include:

Expectations for the new Labour government

  • The UK public is generally optimistic about the Labour Government’s ability to tackle a range of policy challenges. In particular, the policy challenge the UK public believe Labour is likely to tackle is long NHS waiting lists, with 63% of the UK public thinking that Labour will tackle it effectively. 
  • Other policy challenges a majority of the UK public think the Labour Government will tackle include the UK’s relationship with the EU (62%), poor economic growth (61%), the high cost of living (58%), the housing crisis (58%), UK regional inequality (53%) and poor social cohesion (53%).
  • The policy challenge that the UK public think the Labour Government is less likely to tackle is the war in Ukraine, with 65% of the UK public thinking that Labour will not be able to tackle the war in Ukraine at all. 
  • Other policy challenges that a majority of the UK public think Labour will be unable to tackle at all include the Channel boat crossings (57%), achieving net zero (56%) and high levels of government debt (56%).
  • The UK public is most likely to think that the top policy priority for the Labour Government should be reducing NHS waiting lists (61%), improving economic growth (36%) and reducing immigration (29%).
  • The UK public’s perception of the Labour Government’s priorities is well-aligned with what they want them to focus on. Two major exceptions are reducing immigration and house building. The UK public do not believe that reducing immigration will be a top three priority for the Labour Government, whereas they do think building more homes will be a top three priority for the Labour Government. There is a 14-percentage-point disparity that exists between how many respondents think immigration reduction should be a main priority for Labour and how many think it will be, and an 8-percentage-point disparity exists between how many respondents think building more homes will be a main priority for Labour and how many think it should be.

Achievements of Conservative Government

  • The UK public generally think that, across all policy areas we have tested for, things have become more negative since 2010.
  • The most common policy issue which the UK public believes has got worse since 2010 is the cost of living. An overwhelming majority (81%) of the UK public note that the cost of living has changed negatively since 2010. Sixty percent say it has changed very negatively.
  • Eighty percent of the UK public also report that the state of the NHS has changed negatively, and 67% say that the tax burden has changed negatively.
  • Older people are more likely to think more negatively about the last 14 years on almost all policy issues, and particularly on how the level of immigration has changed. Eighty-one percent of over 55s think the change has been negative, in comparison to 48% of 18-to-34-year-olds.

Supporting younger people

  • The top policy proposals that the UK public believe would best support the under 40s are building more homes (43%), lowering Stamp Duty on first-time buyers (34%) and renewing the Help to Buy scheme (29%) – the latter two both policies included in the 2024 Conservative Party’s manifesto.
  • For the under 45s, building more homes is also judged to be a top-three policy for supporting the under 40s, with a plurality (37%) saying it is so. However, the second most popular policy for supporting the under 40s among the under 45s is lowering National Insurance, favoured by 28% of under 45s.

 Ryan Shorthouse, Executive Chair of Bright Blue, commented: 

“The UK public evidently want to turn the page on the last fourteen years of Conservative Government. 

“There is a craving for change, especially in how our economy, the NHS and immigration systems are managed. There is a prevailing view that younger people will be best supported by building more homes and supporting them with the cost of housing. 

“The UK public have some degree of confidence that the new Labour Government will tackle major policy challenges, especially economic ones such as the high cost of living, poor economic growth and regional inequality. However, there is scepticism that the new Government will be able to achieve net zero emissions and a reduction in Channel boat crossings.”

Bartek Staniszewski, Senior Research Fellow at Bright Blue, commented: 

“Not only does this polling reveal the extent of the public’s dissatisfaction with the last 14 years of Tory government – it also shows just how well Labour have managed to seize on it.

“Labour are expected to deliver across some of the most pressing challenges facing the UK: NHS waiting lists, economic growth and housing. Unsurprisingly, those are some of the same areas where the public’s assessment of Conservative performance is at its most damning.

“But this polling also shows how important work and family are for young people. Proposals to support those are some of the most popular among the 45s.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

To arrange an interview with a Bright Blue spokesperson or for further media enquiries, please contact Emily Taylor at emily@brightblue.org.uk or on 07841 419316.

  • Bright Blue is the independent think tank and pressure group for defending and improving liberal society.
  • The polling was conducted by Yonder Data Solutions between the 21st and 23rd of June 2024. It consisted of a nationally representative sample of 2,063 UK adults. 
  • Bright Blue’s Board includes Diane Banks, Philip Clarke, Alexandra Jezeph, Richard Mabey and Ryan Shorthouse.
  • Our advisory council can be found here. We also have 228 parliamentary supporters. Members of our advisory council and our parliamentary supporters do not necessarily endorse all our policy recommendations, including those included in this press release.

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