Drivers tend to think government policy favours non-drivers

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
September 13, 2023, 9:09 AM GMT+0

Non-drivers think the opposite

Following the Conservatives’ successful defence of their Uxbridge seat in July, an unexpected victory which Westminster has attributed to the ULEZ expansion, the government has started framing Labour green policies as a ‘war on motorists’.

While this represents a new strand in the government’s attempt to create political wedges ahead of the general election, that motorists are a powerful – and aggrieved – constituency of voters has long since become received wisdom.

But is this correct? Does the public think that drivers are unfairly treated by government policy?

Our poll finds that Britons are split. One in three 32% think government policy favours non-drivers, while 25% think it favours drivers. A further 15% say it favours neither, with the rest unsure.

There is, however, a clear difference in opinion between frequent drivers and infrequent or non-drivers.

Among the most frequent drivers – those who drive on at least five days in a week – 41% say that government policy tends to favour non-drivers, compared to just 18% who say it favours drivers. A further 17% say policy favours both groups equally. Those who drive less frequently are slightly more likely to think policy favours drivers, but more still say non-drivers are the main beneficiaries.

By contrast, Britons who don’t drive say that policy favours drivers over non-drivers by 35% to 13%, with a further 14% saying neither is advantaged.

Those who drive infrequently (less than once a week) are similarly likely to say policy favours drivers (37%), although notably more take the opposing view (27%).

Opinion divides on political lines, although this is still influenced by how frequently people drive.

Overall, Conservative voters think government policy favours non-drivers over drivers by 48% to 14%, while for Labour voters these figures are effectively reversed: 41% say they benefit drivers more, while 19% think the opposite.

The majority of the most frequent Tory-voting drivers think policy favours non-drivers (55%) and an almost identical proportion of Labour-voting non-drivers think it favours drivers (54%). The opposite combinations find themselves divided: Tory non-drivers break 24% to 25% on whether drivers or non-drivers benefit most from policy, while Labour voters who drive on five or more days in a week are split 32% to 27%.

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