Even Tory voters back public ownership of water and electricity …
Despite opposition among political leaders, support for the idea of bringing services like water, rail, electricity and gas into public ownership was in the majority for both Labour and Tory voters.
In Scotland, rail and water are already under public ownership.
Ashcroft, a billionaire and former Tory peer who resigned from the Lords to focus on polling, wrote alongside the publication of the survey: “On the cost of living, two-thirds of voters, including 43% of 2019 Tories, thought the Government could do more to help but was choosing not to.
“Even though most blamed companies for putting up prices to boost their own profits, over and above increases in their own costs (64%, including majorities of all parties’ supporters), many in our focus groups felt it was the government’s job to do something about the problem – whether through direct help to consumers or by somehow compelling businesses to behave differently.
“This may help to explain why clear majorities, including most 2019 Tories, thought the government ought to control the water, rail, electricity and gas industries.
“When we asked why, the most popular answers were that national ownership would mean more investment, better service and lower charges, and the principle that important services should belong to the people, not private companies.”
The polling found that among the general public, 65% support nationalisation of water, 60% of gas, 61% of electricity, and 62% of railways.
Among Tory voters this was, respectively, 65%, 59%, 59%, and 60%. And for Labour voters it was 75%, 72%, 73%, and 74%.
The general public did not back public ownership of banks (just 16% supported) or phone companies (17%).
But regardless of public opinion, Labour have ditched Keir Starmer’s flagship pledge to “support common ownership of rail, mail, energy, and water”.
Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay said it was time for the public’s views on the issue to be reflected by the politicians in London.
Mackay (below) said: "It is no surprise that there is such a strong public consensus behind public ownership, and it is time for it to be reflected in Westminster.
"Gas, water, electricity and rail are all utterly essential to our communities and wellbeing. They are vital services and should not be treated as cash cows for big business. By keeping public services in public hands we can make them work for people and planet.
"That is what we're seeing in Scotland where we have rightly taken ScotRail into public ownership. We are investing in decarbonising our rail and are weeks away from scrapping peak rail fares, helping families that are being hit by the Tory-driven cost-of-living crisis.
Cat Hobbs, the director of the nationalisation campaign group We Own It, added: "Politicians should pay attention to this new poll confirming that Conservative voters want water, energy and rail to be in public ownership. No surprise here really – public services in public hands is a very middle of the road position.
“Water, energy and rail are natural monopolies and vital public assets. You don't get a choice about who runs these networks and it's a nonsense for them to be privatised.
“People are sick of putting up with sewage in our rivers and seas, spiralling energy bills and a chaotic railway while a handful of shareholders squirrel away profits. That money should be reinvested to improve our services and infrastructure.
“Conservative voters – like the public in general – want a mixed economy, with private companies doing what they do well and strong public services working for the benefit of everyone."
Ashcroft's polling firm asked 5060 Brits a range of questions between July 31 and August 3, 2023.
- ^ Labour (www.thenational.scot)
- ^ Tory (www.thenational.scot)
- ^ MP quits Labour shadow cabinet with swipe at Keir Starmer (www.thenational.scot)
- ^ publication of the survey (lordashcroftpolls.com)
- ^ How many of Keir Starmer's '10 pledges' HASN'T he dropped yet? (www.thenational.scot)
- ^ economy (www.thenational.scot)
- ^ Conservative (www.thenational.scot)