Reputation battle: which is 'the party of working people'?

October 04, 2015, 9:35 AM GMT+0

The Conservatives have a long way to go to establish their brand as 'the party of working people', although they are making significant progress

The Conservative party has launched a 'moderate trade unionist' group, in a move to bolster its image as 'the party of working people', a label offered by David Cameron at the Conservative manifesto launch in April. YouGov's latest voting intention figures for The Sun have the Conservatives almost tied with Labour among the C2DE social grade, which is one indication of progress on that front. However in terms of the underlying party brand – which groups in society the party is seen as close to – the Conservatives are still a long way behind Labour in being seen as close to 'ordinary working people'.

When presented with a variety of different groups and asked to say whether each party is close or not close to them, the Conservatives are seen as most close to rich people and businessmen; Labour has the opposite problem – distant from businessmen and the middle class, but nevertheless still close to ordinary working people (61% say they're close).

When asked straightforwardly about which party better reflects and understands the views of ordinary working people, 38% of British people choose Labour and 22% choose the Conservatives. However Labour shouldn't feel comfortable with these results – 33% say neither party represents them, and in the recent Sun survey 58% said Labour had seriously lost touch with ordinary working people. Progress has not been made on this under Jeremy Corbyn – the same amount of people (59%) said this after Ed Miliband was elected in 2010.

Even more concerningly for Labour, when asked to measure the direction of travel, fully 44% of voters think the Labour party used to represent ordinary working people but doesn't now. Meanwhile 25% of voters think the Conservative party is improving at representing this group (including 22% of Lib Dems and 19% of UKIP supporters), but one in two say that they never have and still won't.

The evidence suggests that while the underlying brand of the Conservatives is still not intuitively seen as close to working people, the party is making real progress in the eyes of a significant portion of the electorate.

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See the full poll results