A widespread feeling of dissatisfaction pervades across the country
Close to six in 10 Britons say that there is no political party they like, according to the latest polling from UnHerd Britain. 58% of voters agree with the statement, “Frankly, there is no political party I actually like.” Just 22% indicate that they like what’s on offer. This is a resounding “none of the above” rejection of the Westminster Inn’s political menu.
The political disenchantment is widespread. Among the electorate, 57% of Remainers and 58% of Leavers, 59% of white people and 53% of non-whites, 58% of under-25s and 53% of over-50s are dissatisfied with their political options. Meanwhile, women are somewhat more disaffected with their choices (61%) than men (55%).
The map below shows the constituencies that deviate from the average in each direction, confirming the picture that non-metropolitan England feels the least well represented; however it should be emphasised that, while the residents of South Derbyshire or Amber Valley in the East Midlands are less enthusiastic about their choices (66%) than voters in Orkney and Shetland (52%), the typical constituency deviates by just 2% around the national average on this question. A map that showed the overall result would be an unbroken sea of green — representing political disenchantment across the land.
Scots are happier than other Britons with their options, with Scottish National Party (SNP) voters (before the departure of Nicola Sturgeon) having the lowest level of dissatisfaction. Yet, even here, more SNP supporters agreed that there was no party they liked (43%) than disagreed (37%).
Figure 1 above shows that voters for minor parties (aside from the SNP and Plaid Cymru) are the most disenchanted. Nevertheless, what makes the biggest impact in statistical models predicting dissatisfaction is the fact that Conservative voters are nearly 10 points more alienated than their Labour counterparts (59% to 50%). A third of 2019 Tory voters say Britain was wrong to leave the EU, and disillusionment is considerably greater among them (64%) than among those who are still in favour of Brexit (55%). This hints at problems for the Tories in the Blue Wall seats of southern England.
Figure 2 above reveals that those who hold what I term ‘libertarian populist’ views (based on a desire for freedom from government) are more politically homeless than other voters. Among those who feel that no party represents them are 68% of those who think lockdowns were a mistake, 65% of those who say the world is controlled by a secretive elite, and 64% of the total who say the Government spends too much time on green issues. Only a fifth to a quarter of these voters feel represented by a political party. On balance, they tilted somewhat more to the Conservatives than to Labour in 2019, exposing the Tories to greater potential vote losses in 2024.
Finally, just a fifth of those who say immigration levels are too high are satisfied with the current crop of parties. With nearly half of these voters plumping for Boris Johnson in 2019, the Conservatives again stand to lose most from the mood of disaffection. In a statistical model of the “no party I like” question, immigration attitudes are one of the most important predictors of alienation once demographics, age and views on Brexit have been accounted for. Thus, just 49% of pro-immigration Brexiteers say there is no party they like, compared to 65% of anti-immigration Remainers.
Though the desire to reduce immigration was the most important predictor of voting to leave the European Union, the Conservatives have since presided over a loosening of immigration rules, record-breaking migration levels and a rise in cross-channel illegal immigration. Once again, a mainly Tory bloc of voters is the most irritated.
All told, this data shows a powerful mood of disaffection in the country, with barely a fifth of voters satisfied with today’s political options. Tory voters are particularly unhappy, which spells trouble ahead for Rishi Sunak unless he is able to fulfil key pledges like tackling the cost of living, stopping the boats and reducing waiting times in the NHS.