REVEALED: The Labour Party policies the public are most aware of

Exclusive polling for Left Foot Forward has found that abandoning the £28bn climate investment pledge is the policy the public are most aware of

Labour leader Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves reading papers

Exclusive polling for Left Foot Forward has revealed which Labour Party policies the public are most aware of. The poll – conducted by Savanta – asked the public to what extent they were aware of key policy positions the Labour Party currently hold.

Less than 50% of the public were aware of Labour’s policies in all the areas that Savanta asked about bar one, suggesting that Keir Starmer still has work to do in communicating his platform to the electorate. This has led to suggestions from campaigners and groups within the Labour Party that Starmer needs to offer a clearer vision of what he plans to do in government should the next general election see him enter Number 10.

The Labour policy the public are most aware of is the party’s decision to ditch its pledge to invest £28bn per year in the green economy. 50% of the public said they were somewhat or very aware of the policy, compared to 41% who said they were not very or not at all aware.

The polling was conducted from 1-3 March 2024, almost a full month after Labour announced its decision to end its commitment to spending £28bn a year on green investment.

Responding to the revelation that the Labour policy that the public is most aware of is the reversal of the climate investment pledge, Labour for a Green New Deal co-founder Chris Saltmarsh told Left Foot Forward: “Yet again, we can see evidence that as well as being morally indefensible, Starmer’s approach to climate change is now electorally self-defeating. Labour is wilfully sacrificing the support of its base by abandoning its Green Prosperity Plan and setting itself up to fail on environmental issues when in power.”

Other Labour policies which almost half of the public said they are aware of are banning bonuses to water bosses whose firms have dumped sewage in waterways (46% aware), building 1.5 million homes in the next five years (46% aware), providing 100% clean power by 2030 (44% aware), ending the ‘non-dom’ tax status (42% aware), and establishing a state-run energy company called Great British Energy (41% aware).

Campaigners have said that the polling indicates that Labour has “failed to excite the public”. Anti-privatisation group We Own It told Left Foot Forward that Labour’s policy on water is “wholly inadequate”.

Responding to the poll’s findings, Cat Hobbs, Director of public ownership campaign group We Own It, said: “This polling goes to show that Labour have so far failed to excite the public with their plans. At a time when our public services are stretched to breaking point, our rivers and seas are pumped with sewage and people are struggling with the cost of living, Labour should be listening to their electorate and kicking private profit out of our vital public services.

“Poll after poll shows that public ownership of water is hugely popular. Yet Labour’s water policy is wholly inadequate, tinkering around the edges rather than sorting out sewage. Labour should be committing to end the ludicrous system where it pays to pollute, and bringing water into public hands.”

Hobbs also said that Labour ought to “ramp up the ambition” of its plans for Great British Energy. She told Left Foot Forward: “Labour also has an election-year opportunity to ramp up the ambition for publicly owned generation company Great British Energy, and to use the money generated on popular policies like lowering bills and investing in wind and solar. For too long, private companies have put profit first. It’s time that people and planet are placed front and centre of the agenda.”

The public are less familiar with a number of other Labour policies. Just 36% say they are very or somewhat aware of Labour’s position that it will not reinstate the cap on bankers’ bonuses, 33% say they are very or somewhat aware that Labour is planning to retain the existing rate of corporation tax, and 29% say they are very or somewhat aware of Labour’s policy to create a national wealth fund to leverage private investment.

The results of the poll have led to groups on the left of the Labour Party suggesting that under Starmer the public are not yet clear what the party stands for.

A spokesperson for Momentum – the primary left wing faction within Labour – told Left Foot Forward: “This polling demonstrates the need for Labour’s Leadership to set out a clear, bold policy offer. The public are sick and tired of the Tories and their failed economic policy of austerity and privatisation. But clearly they do not yet know what Labour stands for.

“Keir Starner should set out a real Labour alternative, with new wealth taxes to help fund urgent investment in publicly-owned public services. More of the same is bad economics, bad politics and a recipe for disaster.”

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

Image credit: Keir Starmer – Creative Commons

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