Labour losing support amongst public sector workers

From Unison, the biggest public sector union in the UK:

Labour’s traditional supporters look to be deserting the Party in their droves, according to an Ipsos MORI poll commissioned by UNISON. Almost half (47%) of those who have regularly voted Labour at past elections now say they are less likely to vote Labour than they were in 2005. In addition, 51% of the public generally say they are less likely to vote Labour than they were at the last General Election. The exodus among public sector workers is equally bad, with 49% saying they are now less likely to vote Labour than in 2005.

The poll also found that the Conservatives are closing in on Labour’s territory, such as education and managing the economy. Both of these have traditionally been Labour strongholds so it is very worrying for us all that the Tories are now seen to have the better policies on these issues. Labour is still just hanging on to its lead in healthcare by 5 points (with 34% thinking Labour has the best policies on healthcare, and 29% thinking the Conservatives do).

And a potential vote-winner in the next election for the general public is Government policy on running public services, with more than 7 in 10 (71%) saying that Government policy on running public services will be important to them when they decide how to vote at the next election.

Public sector workers are beginning to see the Tories as better at getting good value for public money (28% think the Conservatives have the best policy on this, compared to 19% who think Labour do) and managing the economy (30% Con vs. 24% Lab). And more than 8 in 10 (81%) public sector workers say that Government policy on running public services will be important in deciding how they vote at the next election.

UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said:

“It’s clear that the Tories are closing in on Labour’s natural territory. Gordon Brown must wake up and smell the coffee. Improve your game; heed this warning shot. If you get the public services right, you can start to win back voters. A massive 79% of people believe that public services should be run by the Government or local authorities, rather than by private companies. So it’s time to end the affair with big business and recapture traditional ground. Public sector workers – Labour’s natural supporters – are deserting the Party in their droves. Without their votes, Labour will lose the next election”.

Key Findings

In terms of which issues are most important for the Government to improve on, public sector workers’ are more likely to focus on education (29% compared to 24% general public) and the NHS (32% compared to 25% of the general public).

85% of public sector workers (compared to 79% of the general public) agree that public services should be run by the Government or local authorities, rather than by private companies.

More than eight in ten public sector workers (82%, compared to 77% among the general public) agree that people who provide public services should be employed by the Government or local authorities.

Public sector workers are more likely to say that Government policy on running public services will be important in deciding how they vote in the next election – 81% of public sector workers say its important (compared to 71% of the general public – and 42% of these say it will be ‘very important’ to them (compared to 36% of the general public who say it will be ‘very important’).

Amongst the general public, Labour is still seen as having the best policies on healthcare compared to Conservatives (34% vs. 29%). However the Conservatives lead over Labour on protecting the rights of individual citizens (31% vs. 20%), though Labour are seen as having the best policies on keeping Britain safe from terrorism (32% vs. 28%).

TECHNICAL DETAILS:

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,012 adults in Great Britain aged 18 and over. Interviews were conducted by telephone between 13th and 15th June 2008.

Data are weighted to match the profile of the population by gender, age, working status (including public vs. private sector workers), region, housing tenure, social class and car ownership.

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One Response to “Labour losing support amongst public sector workers”

  1. a very public sociologist Says:

    While we’re on the topic, here’s the first report I’ve seen on this afternoon’s Unison debate on the Labour party. Makes interesting reading!


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