Conservatives lead on four of the five most important issues for the public

Conservatives lead on four of the five most important issues for the public – Theresa May’s personal ratings often better than her party’s.

The author(s)
  • Gideon Skinner UK Head of Political Research
  • Glenn Gottfried Public Affairs, Ipsos North
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Ipsos’s latest Political Monitor reveals that Britons prefer the Conservatives and Theresa May over Labour and Jeremy Corbyn on many of the policy areas that are seen as most important to voters, with healthcare the main exception. In addition, the Conservatives get their best scores in Ipsos’s trends for several years on a number of issues such as the economy, immigration, education, defence and crime.

The Conservatives are seen as the party with the best policies for five of the top seven issues that are seen as most important to voters. On the top issue, Brexit, the Conservatives are mentioned by 48% of the public as the best party to handle Britain’s future relationship with the European Union, compared with 17% who said Labour have the best policies to do so. When it comes to managing the economy more than half (52%) say the Conservatives have the best policies (17% Labour) while 39% favour them on immigration (19% say Labour). The Conservatives’ polices are also most preferred on taxation (39% compared 28% for Labour) as well as education (36% vs. 29%).

Other issues the Conservatives beat Labour on are crime and justice (39% vs 18% respectively) and defence (52% vs. 15%). Labour however keep their traditional lead as the party with the best polices on healthcare (40% vs. 25%). Labour also do better than the Conservatives when it comes to other issues such as housing (35% vs. 24%) and poverty/inequality (46% vs. 20%).

The Conservatives also receive some of their best ratings in a number of years for several policy areas. They’ve achieved their highest rating on managing the economy since we started asking the question in 1990 (their previous peak was in January 1991 when 47% of the public said they had the better policies), while also reaching their highest rating on asylum/immigration since we started asking the question in 2005. On education they manage their best score since June 1983, and their best score on crime since 2005. On defence, one of their traditionally stronger issues, they achieve their highest rating since 1991.

When it comes to the party leaders Theresa May is more trusted than Jeremy Corbyn on most of the election issues. More than half (52%) trust Ms May most over Brexit (compared with 20% who say Jeremy Corbyn) while two in five (39%) prefer her on education (34% say Jeremy Corbyn). A majority (55%) trust her most on managing the economy with one in five (18%) choosing Mr Corbyn, 43% say she’s best on immigration (24% for Jeremy Corbyn), with two in five (40%) trusting her most on taxation (27% say Jeremy Corbyn). She also closes the gap on healthcare with 34% most trusting her and 37% Jeremy Corbyn.

Other election issues that Ms May is favoured over Mr Corbyn are crime (51% vs. 19% respectively), defence (57% vs. 18%), pensions (38% vs 31%) and overseas aid (37% vs. 29%) while she runs neck-and-neck with Jeremy Corbyn on housing (34% prefer Theresa May and 35% prefer Jeremy Corbyn). Jeremy Corbyn scores higher when it comes poverty and inequality with 44% preferring him (29% say Theresa May).

Theresa May also out-performs her own Conservative party’s ratings on many issues, particularly crime and justice, healthcare, housing, pensions, poverty/inequality, and overseas aid. Jeremy Corbyn’s ratings are mostly similar to those of the Labour party.

Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos, said:

“These latest findings underscore the Conservative’s strong position going in to this election, and their emphasis on leadership. Their lead on leadership and competence issues is reflected in some of the best scores on issues that we’ve recorded for them for many years – including on the economy, immigration, education, crime and defence.”

Technical note

Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,004 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 21st – 25th April 2017. Data are weighted to the profile of the population.

The author(s)
  • Gideon Skinner UK Head of Political Research
  • Glenn Gottfried Public Affairs, Ipsos North

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