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    Have the Conservatives Misjudged Public Support for Renationalization?

    Level Talk with John Harrison
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    A recent survey has established that a little over half of the British electorate actually support renationalisation of the train network, the energy market, and the Royal Mail. Might the Tories might have got it wrong? Or does it mean that this election, like many before it, is predominantly about personalities rather than politics?

    Professor John Curtice, a renowned psephologist from the University of Strathclyde and Dr. Ben Williams, lecturer in politics at the University of Salford join the program.

    Dr. Williams starts the program by making the distinction between voters' policy preferences and voting intentions. The difference between them may be due, to a large extent he says, to Jeremy Corbyn's unpopularity. This point is supported by Professor Curtice who says that Labour's problem is persuading people that it can actually deliver, particularly when it comes to renegotiating a policy agreement with the EU. Professor Curtice also makes the point that Labour is not really the Party of the working classes anymore, it is a Party of the middle classes, the majority of whom voted to remain in the EU, and in this, Jeremy Corbyn may not be representing the views of all Labour supporters. But, Professor Curtice points out, the point can be made that Jeremy Corbyn has been fighting a much more effective campaign than Michael Foot did in 1983, which is the last time that the Party was led by the left. Labour's share of the vote according to recent opinion polls has risen considerably. Some Labour voters, Professor Curtice says, "seem to be returning to the fold." But the Tory lead is such that Labour will find it very hard even retaining as many MPs as it did two years ago.

    Host John Harrison suggests that the reason why so many people seem to indicate that they will support Labour's policies could be because the middle classes are now beginning to come round to thinking that perhaps such policies are right. Dr. Williams says that many middle-class voters; those who commute regularly, for example, are all for re-nationalization, at least of the railways. Professor Curtice supports this argument, saying that many middle-class commuters in the London area are dissatisfied with the services they receive, they also support the idea of free education, and they are also facing higher energy bills like everybody else.

    Professor Curtice comments that Theresa May has picked up the point about globalization not really working for many Brits, and therefore does not come across as a neo-liberal and is prepared to intervene in the market when necessary, by regularizing the private sector.

    As to why a general election was called in the first place, Professor Curtice indicates that Theresa May needs a stronger position within parliament to handle differences within her own Party about Brexit. The point is made that the Conservative Party is, and always has always been very concerned with Party Unity, and in this context, Theresa May is much more prepared to make massive U-turns in policy than the current Labour leadership. A large parliamentary majority is very important for Theresa May, as Professor Curtice points out, even if she wins a large majority, upcoming boundary changes will reduce the number of conservative MP's in parliament.

    As a conclusion on whether the ComRes survey discussed in this program means anything as far as the election results are concerned, Professor Curtice says: probably not, as the Labour Party needs to do is to sell its people not its ideas. Dr. Williams says that the Labour Party is doing well in appealing to its own members but not to the wider population, therefore it seems unlikely it will be able to reduce the Conservative Party's present lead significantly.

    Other issues discussed include the young vote and the politicization of the "divorce bill" settlement that Britain will now have to pay the EU. The election is not yet over, and election results cannot be predicted, however, this program perhaps provides some food for thought.

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    renationalisation, voters, Brexit, Tory, Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May, EU, United Kingdom
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