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BES reveals scale of voter discontent with Tory policy record

24 Mar 2015

The British Election Study has revealed the Conservative’s record on key policies could be seen as an electoral liability.

Conservative's record on key policies could be seen as an electoral liability.
Conservative's record on key policies could be seen as an electoral liability.

Though BES data shows the Tories are unlikely to lose voters during the campaign, their ability to build support could be limited by discontent with some areas of policy as we enter the election campaign.

BES Co-Director Professor Jane Green from The University of Manchester finds less than 20 per cent of voters see an improvement in the Tory’s record on immigration, the NHS, crime, education and cost of living. And only just over 20 per cent of voters see themselves as personally better off.

According to the figures, only around 6% think the NHS is getting better and 3% think immigration is getting lower.

The British Election Study is managed by a team based at The Universities of Manchester, Oxford and Nottingham. It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

A sample of around 16,000 respondents were interviewed between 6-13 March 2015.

Professor Green said: “What is well known is that the national economic recovery is an electoral asset for the Conservatives.

“However, what isn’t known is that the Tories have much work to do if they are to convince voters that a range of key policies are working.”

Using a range of survey and opinion polls, Professor Green and Professor Will Jennings from Southampton University also show voters hardly distinguish between the parties on their competence overall.

That could be more bad news for the Conservatives, who would benefit by convincing voters they are a more competent party in general than Labour.

Professor Jennings said: "Despite the claims of the Conservatives that they offer 'competence over chaos', they do not have a clear advantage on competence with the electorate."

BES data, adds Professor Green, shows most voters think cuts in public spending have gone too far. And only 25% consider it 'absolutely necessary' to cut the deficit.

Also according to the research, the rate of Conservative vote retention was 87% between Feb-March 2014 and March 2015.

This compares to a retention rate of 69% over the whole period from 2010 (using reported 2010 vote) to March 2015. Among the remaining Conservatives, any further losses look set to be equally split between rivals.

Notes for editors

The British Election Study is managed by a team based at The Universities of Manchester, Oxford and Nottingham. The Scientific Leadership Team is comprised of Professors Ed Fieldhouse, Jane Green, Hermann Schmitt, Geoff Evans and Cees van der Eijk.

More details and graphs are available on request.

For media enquires contact:

Mike Addelman
Communications and Marketing Manager
British Election Study
University of Manchester
0161 306 6901
07717 881567
Visit www.britishelectionstudy.com
Follow us on Twitter @BESResearch