Conservative Voters Associate the Party with High Taxation
In preparation for the Autumn Statement next week, we conducted a 12,000 sample MRP on voting intentions and a series of economic issues on behalf of the UK Spirits Alliance between 31st October – 3rd November.
The UK Spirits Alliance is campaigning for the Chancellor to freeze the duty on spirits in his Autumn Statement. In August 2023 the Government froze duties for draught beer and other draught products sold in pubs but raised duties on non-draught beer, cider, wine and spirits in line with RPI inflation (then 10.1%). As you can see below, a majority believe raising the level of duty in line with inflation constitutes a tax increase and there is support for freezing or cutting the rate of duty.
We found the public associate the Conservative party with high taxation and believe taxes would be lower under a Labour government. The cost of living was, again, identified as the issue which will most affect how people vote at the next election. Two-thirds of people place it in their top three issues, and it is ranked most important in three in four constituencies.
Labour lead the Conservatives on trust to deal with every major policy area. On key issues, Labour have a resounding advantage. The Opposition leads the Government by 16 points on trust to deal with the cost of living and by 10 points on the economy generally.
Most concerning to the conservatives is that their reputation as the party of low taxation has been destroyed. A majority (52%) think they are currently paying too much tax and a majority (52%) associate the Conservative party with high taxation; just one in four (28%) associate Sunak’s party with low taxation. Labour are less associated with high taxation than the Conservatives by 10 points among all voters. Even the Conservative’s 2019 voters are more likely to associate the party with high taxation (46%) than low taxation (41%). These voters are also 4 points more likely to think they are currently paying too much tax compared to the sample average.
Being viewed as the party of low taxation forms an important part of the Conservative’s trusted campaign repertoire. A majority of those who intend to vote Conservative still associate the party with low taxation compared to 35% with high taxation. Yet among undecided voters, many of whom voted Conservative in 2019, 46% associate the party with high taxation and just 20% with low. Given that half of these voters, and 54% of those who would consider voting Conservative but are not currently intending to vote for the party, think they are currently paying too much tax, the Chancellor will be hoping he can alter this perception.
But expectations for a reduced tax rate are through the floor. Just 9% of people believe taxes would generally be lower under a Conservative Government. Over three in four (77%) think they would be higher or remain at the same level while only 13% of those who voted Conservative in 2019 think taxes would be lower if the party wins re-election.
The public believe taxes would be lower under Labour than they would under the Conservatives. Two in three (65%) think taxes would be higher or the same level under Labour, which is -11 points lower than the reciprocal figure for the Conservatives. Few believe taxes would be lower under either party, but nearly twice as many people think they would be lower under Labour (17%) than they would under the Conservatives (9%).
The Government must convince the public they are taking effective action on the cost of living. People generally do not understand the economy by reference to the metrics Sunak and Hunt communicate, and the Government’s failure here is contributing to Labour’s robust polling lead.
Labour registered a 17 point lead over the Conservatives in this poll. Using MRP, we estimate would have translated to Labour winning 434 seats to the Conservatives 151.
This polling comes alongside mounting pressure to find headroom for tax cuts from the Conservative backbenchers. In Godalming and Ash, the constituency the Chancellor is expected to contest next year, 62% associate his party with high taxation and just 10% believe taxes will be lower if the Conservatives win re-election. Tax cuts are exceptionally popular with the Conservative base, and given we see Labour gaining significant territory in traditionally Conservative seats in the South of England, the Chancellor will feel pressured to offer his party something.
Get the data
Survation conducted an online poll of 12,128 adults aged 18+ living in Great Britain on behalf of the UK Spirits Alliance. Fieldwork was conducted between 31st October – 3rd November 2023. Standard tables are available here and MRP outputs here.
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