BMG’s latest poll, conducted on behalf of the Independent, reveals that two in five people feel that they are not well represented by any of the current political parties in the UK.
This comes at a time where 43% of the British population say that they would consider voting, in the next General Election, for a new political party which pitched itself in the centre, or centre ground of British politics.
The poll, conducted between 10th and 13th April, and asked a representative sample of 1,562 adults living in Britain to consider to what extent, if at all, they feel that any of the current political parties in the UK represent their views. Some 41% of respondents stated that they either feel they are not very well represented (32%), or not represented at all (9%). This is fractionally higher than those who said they feel either fairly well represented (35%) or very well represented (5%) by the current political parties (40%). Just under 1 in 5 (19%) said that they do not know.
The poll conducted exclusively for the Independent also asked respondents that if a new political party, which pitched itself as sitting in the “centre” or “centre ground” of British politics, formed and ran in the next UK General Election, how likely would they be to consider voting for it?
When asked, some 43% of respondents said they would either potentially consider (35%) or definitely consider (8%) voting for a new party. On the other hand, just over a third (35%) of respondents said they were either unlikely (21%) or would not consider (14%) voting for a potential new centre-ground party. A further 22% said they didn’t know.
Interestingly, over half (51%) of respondents who indicated that they were not very well represented or not represented at all by the current selection of British political parties stated that they would either potentially consider or definitely consider voting for a new political party that pitched itself in the centre. However, a third (33%) stated that they were unlikely to consider or would not consider a new party pitching itself in the centre, and a further 15% said they do not know.
EU not a significant factor
Although the poll suggests that a new political party could fill a hole left by the current political parties, the results suggest that an anti-Brexit focus may not be as popular.
The poll also asked how likely people would be to consider voting for a “Stop-Brexit” or “Anti-Brexit” if one ran at the next General Election.
Less than a third of respondents (31%) said that they would either definitely consider or potentially consider voting for a new “Stop-Brexit” or “Anti-Brexit” party. More than half of respondents (53%) said that they would not consider voting for one (36%) or that they were unlikely to consider voting for such a party (17%). An additional 16% stated that they didn’t know.
The poll also asked respondents to indicate where they stood on the political spectrum, either left wing, centre, or right wing. More than half (53%) of those who stated they were in the centre said they would either not consider or were unlikely to consider voting for a new “Anti-Brexit” party, just 28% stated they would either potentially or definitely consider it. Surprisingly, 45% of those who identified as left-wing said they would consider voting for a new “Anti-Brexit” party.
Given that more than half of respondents (53%) indicated that they were unlikely to consider a new party that pitched itself as the “Stop-Brexit” or “Anti-Brexit” party, the results suggest that any new centrist party wishing to capitalise on the 41% of people who feel politically unrepresented, would have to focus on attractive policy that falls outside of the ongoing Brexit/EU debate.
Commenting on the poll, Dr Michael Turner, Head of Polling at BMG Research, said:
“This poll reveals the collective exasperation of the public when it comes to Westminster politics at this time. A whopping six in ten people who identify themselves as in the centre-ground of British politics, say that they are not very, or not at all, represented by the current crop of UK parties.
“It is no surprise then that ‘centrists’ are most likely to say they would consider switching to something new, with 45% saying they are likely to do so, should a new party pitch itself somewhere between Labour and the Conservatives. As you might expect, it is Lib Dems who are most keen for a switch, especially given their party has failed to make any noticeable impact on the polls, even as approval ratings for May and Corbyn continue to slide. Almost two-thirds (63%) of those who voted for the party in 2017 said that they would likely consider a switch to something new, compared with just 45% of Conservatives and 48% of Labour voters.
“However, the success of any new political party will, in-part, be due to the context of its arrival. The Lib Dems have proven in the past that if there is a gap in the British political market, new parties can indeed establish themselves and thrive over time, particularly if they are well-organised and comprised of competent campaigners. But under the current electoral system, this is a real challenge. Whilst the Lib Dems might be considered a textbook example of how new parties can establish themselves in UK politics, UKIP’s rise and fall should remind everyone that UK General Elections are local, not national popularity contests. So, while 3.8 million UK residents might say that they would definitely consider voting for a centrist party, I am reminded that in 2015, 3.9 million people voted for UKIP, and they won just a single Westminster seat”
An article based on these polling results, released by the Independent, can be found here.
Methodology, fieldwork dates, and a full breakdown of these results can be found here.
For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please get in touch by email or phone.
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Andrew Price – Research Executive