Onward’s Chief Data Analyst and Head of our Future Politics Programme James Blagden wrote for Conservative Home about why all the polling evidence shows that the next Conservative leader must keep the UK’s net zero target.
Research Fellow Ted Christie-Miller wrote for Times Red Box on what the Conservative Party needs to do to reconnect with young people.
Deputy Director Adam Hawksbee spoke to the i about the policy challenges facing the next Conservative leader.
From panel events to drinks receptions and policy roundtables, Onward is running a busy events programme with leading politicians at the Conservative and Labour party conferences this autumn. If you would like to find out more about what we are planning please email our Head of Events David Comerford.
The Conservative leadership race has exposed different views about Net Zero. While all candidates committed to tackling climate change in some form, none have been as forthright in their support for Net Zero as the current government.
This is driven by an assumption that Conservative voters don’t care about Net Zero. Is this true? We polled this to find out and the results suggest it’s not.
When specifically asked whether they would like to see the new Leader keep the commitment to reach Net Zero by 2050 in place, or get rid of it, 51% of Conservative voters want it to remain and just 34% want it scrapped. Wavering Conservatives and ex-Conservative voters are also strongly in favour of keeping the Net Zero target.
A proposal to drop Net Zero would risk losing nearly a quarter of current Conservative voters.
Sticking with the Net Zero target is also more popular in marginal seats and dropping the target could severely damage the Conservatives’ electoral prospects. We ran an MRP analysis to understand the political geography of Net Zero, asking voters: “Do you support or oppose the UK plan to reach Net Zero by 2050?” This shows us the relative strength of feeling within the electorate across different constituencies.
Conservative seats where support for the Net Zero target is highest also have smaller majorities. Among the top 10% of Conservative seats, where the support for Net Zero is highest, the average Conservative majority in 2019 was 13%. Among the 36 Conservative seats with the lowest support for Net Zero, the average majority was 31%, which makes them more than twice as safe as the most pro-Net Zero Conservative seats.
But even the safest seats are in favour of the target. Take Boston and Skegness, which has a Conservative majority of 61%. Our data indicates that 52% of people there support Net Zero, compared to just 17% who are opposed.
It would be electorally unwise for the Conservatives to do anything less than stick to the promises they made at the last election – to deliver Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050.
James Blagden, Chief Data Analyst and Head of Future Politics
A longer version of this note appeared in Conservative Home on 11 August.
Levelling Up Secretary Greg Clark has announced that bridges connecting Grimsby and Immingham will be repaired to boost the local industries and tourism, prevent road closures and secure jobs for the region. More here.
The UK government is considering granting energy intensive businesses tax relief to help them cope with rising costs. More here.