Specially commissioned research shows real appetite for a new party but offers challenge that it would need to be distinctive and not just replicate the existing parties, new research from Opinium shows.
In light of this week’s momentous events, Progressive Centre UK has commissioned exclusive polling from leading researchers Opinium.
This shows voter enthusiasm for a potential new party, but offers a challenge to this week’s defectors that they would need to develop a distinctive offer to stand any chance of success.
Opinium polled a representative sample of 2,001 UK adults, with fieldwork between 15th and 18th February.
Half of the electorate think there is a need for a new party & over 40% say they are likely to vote for it.
The new Opinium research for Progressive Centre UK found that half (50%) of UK adults think there is a need for a new centre-ground political party in Britain, including three quarters (75%) of 2017 Liberal Democrats and over half (51%) of Labour voters.
A wide array of groups think that a new centre-ground party is needed. Interestingly, a large proportion of both Remainers (51%) and Leavers (53%) think that a new centre-ground party is needed. However, this also means that at this stage what a ‘centre-ground’ party might support is relatively ill-defined in the public mind.
Two in five (41%) say they are likely to vote for a new centre-ground party. This remains very high (66%) amongst those who voted Lib Dem in the last general election but drops to 43% of 2017 Labour voters and 37% of 2017 Conservatives.
A quarter of British voters think a new party could replace one of the two major parties at the next election.
Expectations for how well a new centre party might do are quite varied.
A fifth (19%) of UK adults think the party could become a sizeable third party in Parliament at the next general election. However, a quarter (24%) think the party could supplant one of the two major parties by becoming either the Official Opposition (13%) or coming first in a general election (11%).
Voters say a new party should aim to be ‘entirely new’ rather than a like for like replacement for an existing party
Even if some voters think a new party could displace either the Conservatives or Labour as one of the largest groupings in parliament, most think it should aim to be an ‘entirely new party’ (54%) rather than trying to simply replace one of the current major parties (29%).
This rises amongst those who think there is a need for a new centre-ground political party in Britain, with two thirds (65%) of them believing a new centre party should aim to be an entirely new entity rather than attempting to replace one of the options currently on the table.
What could this mean?
This research underlines just how dissatisfied voters are with the current state of British politics. What is especially striking, and undermines lazy assumptions, is the appetite for a new political offering from both those who voted leave and remain.
This hunger for something different is clearly a huge opportunity for The Independent Group if they choose to become a fully-fledged party. But it also points to the huge challenge ahead if they are to convert this week’s excitement at ‘none of the above’ and public good-will at seeing moderates from different traditions working together, into support for any new centrist progressive party.
They will need to quickly define in voters’ minds what they stand for and how their values make them distinctive if they are to capitalise on the electoral appetite for change.
The fact that voters so clearly want any new party to be something distinctive and not just a 2.0 of any of the existing parties could offer a route-map for the Independents that avoids the pitfalls of previous breakaways. But the need to develop a completely fresh appeal sets the bar high. Their ability to cross it will determine their success.
More details of the research can be found here.
Progressive Centre UK is an independent think-tank and not affiliated with The Independent Group. Chuka Umunna MP chairs our Advisory Board, which brings together members of other parties and none, academics, journalists, campaigners and business people, including James Endersby, Chief Executive of Opinium.
Opinium is an award-winning strategic insight agency built on the belief that in a world of uncertainty and complexity, success depends on the ability to stay on pulse of what people think, feel and do. Creative and inquisitive, we are passionate about empowering our clients to make the decisions that matter. We work with organisations to define and overcome strategic challenges –helping them to get to grips with the world in which their brands operate. We use the right approach and methodology to deliver robust insights, strategic counsel and targeted recommendations that generate change and positive outcomes.
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