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Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, and Opinium have today published analysis of polling providing a snapshot of the immediate public expectations of, priorities for, and perceptions of the new Conservative Government.

Bright Blue and Opinium’s polling shows:

Expectations of the new Conservative Government

  • The UK public is most likely to believe that the richest in society will do best under the new Conservative Government, with almost half (44%) indicating this. In contrast, only 13% believe the working class will do best and 2% believe the poorest will do best.
  • The UK public is fairly pessimistic about the next five years. A majority of the UK public expects levels of undesirable trends – poverty (72%), crime (71%), inequality (71%) and national debt (72%) – to increase or stay the same. 
  • There is slightly less pessimism around the British economy: a slight majority expect the number of businesses (51%) and jobs (57%) to increase or stay the same, however a significant majority (70%) expect wages to increase or stay the same over the next five years.
  • A majority of the UK public believes that the Conservative Government will deliver the promised increase of National Insurance threshold (54%), reduction of low-skilled migration (52%) and raise of the minimum wage to £10.50 (52%).
  • However, there is more scepticism on other high-profile commitments made by the Conservative Party. A majority of the UK public do not expect the Conservatives to deliver on ending rough sleeping (68%), a complete roll-out of fibre broadband (54%), and recruit 50,000 more nurses (51%).

Priorities for the new Conservative Government

  • A clear majority of the UK public (58%) expect passing the Brexit legislation and leaving the EU to be the main priority for the new Conservative Government. The NHS comes a distant second at 10%. 
  • When discussing the main priority for increased public spending, the NHS comes significantly ahead of all other areas, with a firm majority of the UK public supporting this (57%). 
  • There is a significant desire amongst the UK public for the new Government to give a high priority to a number of key policy issues. This includes, in order of preference, social care (73%), climate change (64%), air pollution (64%), pension reform (58%), childcare (55%) and Universal Credit (55%).
  • The UK public is more likely to believe Boris Johnson’s Government will place low priority on many key policy issues, including integration of immigrants (46%), pension reform (47%), climate change (47%), air pollution (48%), Universal Credit (48%), childcare (52%), race and gender discrimination (57%), and human right violations abroad (61%).

Supporting those on low and modest incomes

  • The number one priority for the UK public to support those on low and middle incomes is investing more in public services, with 27% reporting this, followed by increasing the minimum wage (23%) and cutting taxes (16%).
  • Generally, those with lower incomes are more likely to report increasing the minimum wage than any other measure. For example, those earning below £10,000 and between £10,000 and £20,000 a year are more likely to say the increase in the minimum wage should be the priority compared to other priorities, including investing more in public services but especially cutting taxes.
  • When thinking about what would best help so-called ‘left behind’ areas, the number one priority for the UK public is incentivising new businesses to move into those areas (42%), followed by investing more into public services (33%), improving transport connections (30%) and funding training and retraining schemes (30%).

Perceptions of the new Conservative Government

  • The description of the Conservative Party most used by the UK public is ‘a Brexit party’ (39%). The next popular descriptions used are ‘an elitist party’ (27%) and ‘a far-right party’ (20%), but also ‘a one-nation party’ (16%) and a ‘people’s party’ (13%).

Commenting, Ryan Shorthouse, Director at Bright Blue, says:

“The Prime Minister is right to say that first-time Conservative voters have lent their support to him. He now needs to earn their trust. To keep them on side in the long-term, the Government needs to deliver more than just Brexit. There needs to be a laser-like focus on reducing their cost of living, improving their public services, and enhancing their local infrastructure and amenities.”

“The UK public are most likely to think that incentivising businesses to move into so-called ‘left-behind areas’ and greater investment in key public services, especially the NHS and social care, will best support those on low and middle incomes.”

“The British public are sceptical that the Conservative Government can deliver for those on modest incomes. He has defied expectations before, securing a revised Brexit withdrawal agreement. He should now be preoccupied with developing and implementing a domestic reform agenda that defies expectations too.”

Commenting, James Crouch, research manager at Opinium, says:

“The December general election saw the Conservatives win over a large number of Labour voters who had never previously voted for the party, but Boris Johnson will need to work hard to win and maintain the trust of the new northern working class voters that elected him to office.”

“Everyone expects the government’s main priority to be passing the Brexit legislation, but beyond that there isn’t a clear understanding what the Conservatives will do. After such an extraordinary election result, the party needs to take stock and truly listen to what voters in the ‘left-behind areas’ and working class communities want from Boris Johnson and his government over the next five years.”