Written By Philip van Scheltinga

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Good Thursday Afternoon,

It’s time to take a look at the polls! In this week’s issue of Magnified, we take an in-depth look at how Britain’s environmental policies are set to collide with the rising cost of living.

This week, our research also covered:

  • Boris Johnson’s confidence vote
  • Increasing anger of the British public
  • Wasteful bureaucracy in the NHS
  • Enthusiasm for sanctions on Russia

If you would like to find out more about how Redfield & Wilton Strategies can help your organisation succeed through polling and strategic advice, click here.

Westminster Insights

Westminster Voting Intention
(8-9 June):

Labour 40% (+2)
Conservative 32% (-2)
Liberal Democrat 13% (+2)
Green 5% (-2)
Scottish National Party 4% (–)
Reform UK 4% (–)
Other 2% (-1)

Changes +/- 5 June

All Net Approval Ratings
(8-9 June):

Boris Johnson: -25% (-2)
Keir Starmer: -3% (+1)
Rishi Sunak: -12% (–)

Changes +/- 5 June

Our voting intention poll continues to fluctuate around 38-40% for Labour and 32%-34% for the Conservatives. 

There have been no dramatic changes in our polling following Boris Johnson’s 211-148 confidence vote victory, suggesting that few had been indicating an intention to vote a certain way under the expectation that Boris Johnson would be imminently forced out of his position.

The Prime Minister’s approval remains considerably negative, at -25%. Among 2019 Conservative voters, it is a meagre +13%, with as many as a third of those who voted Conservative in 2019 (32%) saying they disapprove of the Prime Minister’s performance.

Overall, 59% of respondents to our most recent polling indicate that, if they themselves had been a Conservative MP, they would have voted no confidence in the Prime Minister. However, among those who voted Conservative in 2019, 56% say they would have voted confidence in the Prime Minister while a sizeable 37% say they would have voted no confidence

As such, Monday’s result (59% to 41% among Conservative MPs) is, in fact, broadly reflective of where members of the public who voted Conservative in 2019 are.

Most interestingly, 20% of those who say they would still vote Conservative today say they would have voted no confidence in the Prime Minister. For such voters, other factors such as party loyalty, local conditions including the favourability of their local MP, or a greater dislike of the other parties on the ballot may explain why they presently would vote Conservative. 

Though he has survived the confidence vote, the Prime Minister nevertheless has his work cut out for him. Half of 2019 Conservative voters who say they have confidence in Johnson say he will only retain their confidence with significant improvements

Of those Conservative voters who express no confidence, two-thirds (68%) say Boris Johnson cannot win their confidence back no matter what. Winning back this group of voters by the next General Election will be a formidable task.

Data Tables

Chart of the Week

At this moment, a third of the public (34%) rate their level of anger at 4 or 5 out of 5 when thinking about the future of the country, up from 22% at the end of last summer. Those who rate their anger at 0 or 1 out of 5 have correspondingly decreased from 18% last summer to 11%.

Altogether, whereas the public was split at the end of August between being optimistic (34%) or pessimistic (35%) regarding the future of the United Kingdom, twice as many now feel pessimistic (45%) than feel optimistic (23%) when looking at the future.

This week, the OECD has projected that the United Kingdom’s economy is set to have, after Russia, the worst growth in the G20 this year. Such dire economic predictions amidst a front and centre cost-of-living crisis most likely inform the increasing anger and pessimism of the British electorate.

There is no doubt that the rising cost of living and the increasing prospect of a recession is weighing heavily on the minds of voters. 58% currently say the rising cost of living matters to them a significant amount (as opposed to a fair or slight amount, or no amount at all). No other issue, including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (32%), the war in Ukraine (also 32%), the coronavirus pandemic (30%), or the vote of confidence in Boris Johnson (24%) has a majority of members of the public currently saying the issue matters to them a significant amount.

Hire Us: If you are a business, campaign, or research organisation looking to expand your understanding of public opinion, Redfield & Wilton Strategies has the tools to help. Get in touch to find out more.

Long Exposure: In-Depth Analysis

On a Collision Course, The Cost-of-Living Crisis and Environmental Taxes

As we have written repeatedly in Magnified, the rising cost of living is the foremost issue in British politics. More than party-gate or any other issue, this economic catastrophe is the critical driver of the decline in support for the governing Conservative Party.

The urgent political need to address this crisis is clear. 41% of the public, a clear plurality, say Boris Johnson and his Government would need to change their response to the cost-of-living crisis in order to win their vote in the next General Election, followed by only 21% who say the Conservatives cannot win their vote with Boris Johnson.

In other words, the cost-of-living crisis trumps all. Sooner or later, as they did with the coronavirus pandemic, the Government will make the calculation that they must do whatever they can do to reduce the cost-of-living, to prevent it from rising further, and to push the British economy once again towards meaningful growth.

Inevitably, this prioritisation will put the Government in conflict with its measures intended to address that other crisis: climate change. Such measures included hefty taxes on fuel consumption, sizeable Government energy subsidies, and other incentives designed to make Britons’ carbon emissions more expensive. 

As we mention above, 58% currently say the cost-of-living crisis matters to them a significant amount. By comparison, 20% say climate change matters to them a significant amount. Just 4% say Boris Johnson and his Government would need to change their response to climate change in order to win their vote in the next General Election.

Already, Britons are starting to doubt the extent to which climate change policies are in line with promoting economic growth. 25% say that environmental policies are generally beneficial to the United Kingdom’s businesses and economy, down from 35% in October 2021. 26%, by contrast, say that environmental policies are detrimental.

More critically, Britons are doubtful of the return on investment for the taxpayer money their government spends on combatting climate change. 16% say climate change policies provide good value for money, while 39% say they do not. More significantly, only 21% say yes, the costs of climate change policies are worth it, 37% say no, the costs are not worth it, and 43% say they don’t know.

By comparison, 53% of members of the British public say yes, the costs of the United Kingdom’s support for Ukraine have been worth it, something just 18% disagree with. 

Intuitively, this difference makes sense. Britons think their country has been a leader in the effort to oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and, more importantly, think they have done more than any other European country to help Ukraine. In other words, Britons feel that their sacrifices for Ukraine have made a meaningful difference.

By comparison, the effect of the sacrifices made by the British public to combat climate change are not as apparent. The United Kingdom contributes only a small percentage of the world’s carbon emissions. If the public were to take on all the sacrifices necessary to reduce their carbon emissions to net zero, the difference such action would make will probably be minimal.

As a result, 49% of the public say they would support the Government suspending its environmental taxes to reduce the cost of living, a figure that rises to 58% of those who voted Conservative in 2019. 18% of all respondents, including 16% of 2019 Conservative voters, say they would oppose such a suspension.

For a Government desperate to win back public support, can they afford to do otherwise?

Perspective: The R&WS Take on the News

NHS to cut diversity and inclusion jobs as Sajid Javid declares war on ‘waste and wokery’ amid record spending
GB News | 9 June 2022

OUR TAKE: Sajid Javid has said there are “too many [in the NHS] working in roles focused solely on diversity and inclusion” and has promised to reduce wasteful spending in the NHS bureaucracies. Voters appear amenable to this message. When prompted with the statement, “There is too much waste in the NHS’ spending,” 48% of members of the public agree and 19% disagree. When prompted with, “The NHS is too bureaucratic,” 46% agree and just 10% disagree.

UK growth set to be worst in G20 apart from Russia, OECD warns
Financial Times | 8 June 2022

OUR TAKE: The United Kingdom and Russia are the slowest growing (or most receding) economies in the G20 according to the OECD. Such projections have done nothing, however, to dampen the enthusiasm for UK sanctions against Russia following the war in Ukraine. 68% of the public currently support the sanctions, virtually the same as in early April (67%). 47% say yes, the UK is capable of maintaining the sanctions for a long time, down marginally from 50% in early April. 25%, by comparison, do not think so.

R&WS in the Media

Each week we bring you the top stories from the media that have featured our research.

Boris Johnson: The highs and lows of prime minister’s time in office
Sky News | 8 June 2022

Scrap VAT on petrol and diesel: Calls grow for ban
Sunday Express | 4 June 2022

Two-Thirds Of Tory Voters Believe Financial Situation Will Worsen Over Next Year
Politics Home | 2 June 2022

Are you a journalist needing a stat for your latest piece? We can be your resource—our polling covers hundreds of issues in multiple countries each week. If you are working on an article on a topical issue, chances are we have already asked the public about it. Get in touch and we’ll share our polling data with you!

Our Research on Social Media

Top 5 Tweets This Week

  1. Labour and Conservatives are tied on being trusted the most to ‘respond to the coronavirus pandemic.’ (3 June): (see full tweet)
  2. Do Britons agree or disagree with the following statement: Higher energy bills are a price worth paying to achieve ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2030. (7 June): (see full tweet)
  3. In your view, are environmental policies generally beneficial or detrimental to the economy and to businesses in the United Kingdom? (7 June): (see full tweet)
  4. NEW! At this moment, which of the following individuals do Britons think would be the better PM for the UK? (5 June): (see full tweet)
  5. 2019 Conservative voters primarily source their news from TV news, whereas 2019 Labour voters primarily source their news from social media. Where do Britons primarily source news from? (5 June): (see full tweet)

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