Are Lib Dem concerns different from the Tories and Labour? Tory yes, Labour not so much

Most of us have gotten fed up with the deluge of opinion polls of late. On top of the usual run of surveys, there are all those surveys for the leadership election. Many seem designed to fill newspaper columns rather than advance the debate or help the unrepresentative few chose the next prime minister.

But two surveys caught my eye this week. A YouGov tracker illustrates what we know or perhaps guess about political priorities. Voters for all three parties believe that the economy is the most important issue, with the greatest concern among Lib Dems. But fewer than a quarter of Tories think that the environment in among the top three issues facing the country, compared to half of Lib Dems and Labour voters. There is not a huge difference between the parties on concern about health but the Lib Dems are the most concerned. When it comes to being concerned about immigration and asylum, the Tories are in a league of their own.

Another YouGov survey for Times Radio shows that Lib Dems prefer to shop at Waitrose and Sainsbury’s. Labour supporters prefer Asda and Morrisons. As for the Tories, they are all over the place.

So, if you want to meet a Lib Dem at random on their weekly shop, head to Waitrose where you have a one in five chance of doing so. Far better than a mere eight per cent chance at Aldi.

In yet another survey by YouGov, half of Britons want Woolies brought back to the high street. Even a third of 18-24 year olds, many of whom will not remember Woolies which closed in 2009, want the eclectic store back. Yet not a word on this vital issue from either of the remaining Conservative candidates.

One more serious note, when asked to name the three most important issues facing the country, all parties cited the economy. That is hardly a surprise, given the cost of living crisis. Concerns about the economy are now at their highest since 2011-13.

That the Tories are the least concerned about the environment will be a surprise to no-one. The topic has barely featured during the leadership election.

Health has featured in the contest. Lib Dems and Labour closely track each other in being concerned about health. The Conservatives have consistently been less concerned about the issue.

The concerns about immigration and asylum held by the Tories are far greater the concerns felt by Lib Dem and Labour supporters. Again Labour and the Lib Dems closely track each other.

So, do we Lib Dem voters have different priorities from the Tories? Yes, often by a large margin. But we are a lot closer to Labour in our concerns.

With Labour leading in the polls on voting intentions, this is a topic we no doubt will return to as a party and here on LDV.

This article has been updated to include data on opinion on immigration which was not available initially due to technical cock up. 

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at He is Thursday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Tristan Ward 21st Aug '22 - 11:03am

    A really interesting article,both for those targeting Labour voters and those targeting Consveratives.

    May we have have bit more Bout the wide range of things that Conswrvatives are thinking about?

  • Graham Jeffs 21st Aug '22 - 2:07pm

    As is often the case, it’s likely that the Labour lead in the polls is due as much to aversion to the Conservatives as opposed to any appreciation of what Labour are offering.

    I live in a hugely Conservative area where the majority are not going to be made destitute by the energy crisis. However, coupled with a real concern about disposable income is a very marked antipathy towards Ms Truss. It’s hard to be certain, but it feels that the disenchantment with Mr Johnson and thus the Conservatives is likely to continue under her leadership. I almost have the impression that Mr Johnson was liked better.

    Amongst those who are never going to vote Conservative anyway, there seems to be a feeling that Mr Starmer is dull and boring.

    Yes, we have a plethora of policies. Following our party conference it’s going to be very important to present policy as part of a cohesive philosophy rather than yet another list of ‘sound bites’ like everyone else.

  • Based on the few that I know, bet over 90% of Conservative members want to bring back hanging. They are that gaga. And to think that they are choosing oir next leader.

  • Graham Jeffs 21st Aug '22 - 6:22pm

    Alex – there seems to be a widening gulf between Conservative members and voters. I assume this has been mirrored in our by-election successes. We need to encourage this divide.

  • Martin Gray 21st Aug '22 - 9:02pm

    Anybody that’s canvassed around many a housing estate – will tell you that there’s plenty of voters wanting a return of capital punishment …. Polls indicate that it’s still quite a significant number .

  • Graham Jeffs 21st Aug '22 - 9:49pm

    That has no relevance to what I have been saying. It is extremely unlikely that any material number of voting decisions would be made on that issue.

  • Andy Boddington 22nd Aug '22 - 3:12am

    I think it is offensive and unhelpful to characterise people on “housing estates” as being in favour of capital punishment. That is stereotyping people who don’t live in terraces and or leafy lanes. For all cases of murder, 32% of people are in favour and 49% against. That is a lot of people but the mood is definitely against capital punishment.

  • Andy Boddington 22nd Aug '22 - 3:20am

    You need to get to know more Conservatives. There is no data for party members, but 45% of Conservative voters support the death penalty for all murders and 37% oppose. To get back to the theme of the article, the difference between us and them, 20% of Labour members support capital punishment for all murders and 15% of Lib Dems.

  • Gordon Lishman 22nd Aug '22 - 8:56am

    Housing estate?? Is this a coded reference to (mainly former) social housing areas (council estates)? Or does it mean any area, new or old, of housing development by the same developer? It would be helpful to know which type of prejudice is being expressed.

  • Graham Jeffs 22nd Aug '22 - 9:10am

    My apologies that my pre-occupation with the perceived distaste of many potential Conservative voters for Ms Truss did indeed get away from the core theme of this article.

    I wonder whether there is any regional variation in Conservative priorities? Maybe those statistics are not available?

  • Peter Watson 22nd Aug '22 - 9:22am

    “Lib Dems prefer to shop at Waitrose and Sainsbury’s. Labour supporters prefer Asda and Morrisons. As for the Tories, they are all over the place.”
    The Conservative and Labour columns show much less variation than the Lib Dem ones. It could be a sample size effect, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s a serious and important point there about socioeconomic diversity and the extent to which Lib Dems are representative of the wider electorate.

  • Peter Davies 22nd Aug '22 - 9:24am

    “20% of Labour members support capital punishment for all murders and 15% of Lib Dems” I believe that also should be voters rather than members.

  • I see on the news this morning that those dangerous subversive lefties, the criminal barristers, are going on indefinite strike in September. Yet another fine mess of a legacy……..

    The Coalition Government’s Cuts to Legal Aid › pub kpso9884
    27 Feb 2019 — The cuts removed around £300 million from the public funding of providers. This has had a massive effect in terms of those providers……..

  • Andy Boddington 22nd Aug '22 - 10:03am

    Yes. My early morning error. Thanks.

  • Kyle Harrison 22nd Aug '22 - 10:34am

    At the end of the day, who cares what particular tribes of voters think? Apart from if you’re in the game of appealing to a particular group of voters in order to win an election. The Tories vote may be more anti immigration but there’s no point Lib Dems or Labour laughing about that. They’re the voters you need to win! The Tories got around 45% of the vote last time. Labour 31%. If you want the Tories to lose you need some of those more culturally conservative voters to Labour or Lib Dems instead. Considering how well the Tories did at the last election, winning all over the country, and how bad Labour did, it’s not surprising that the Lab vote is so liberal. It’s at base levels. A lot of liberal urbanites largely. If Labour do win the next election it will mean some of those immigration concerned voters will have become Labour voters instead. I guess the Lib Dems can hope to carve off some disgruntled liberal Tories in parts of London and south. The left can’t keep scoffing at more illiberal voters. There’s A LOT of them in this country. The left need to win them. They need to create a left of centre govt that keeps some of those votes contented. Otherwise, they will find it hard to maintain power.

  • Regarding differences of opinion on environmental issues. From conversations I have had with Conservatives, it is not that they don’t care about global warming, it more that they are cynical about the measures that have been proposed to date. They don’t see electric vehicles as a solution because they will be to dear for most folks for a long time to come, they often like the idea of renewables (just nowhere near them), they probably think we will muddle through with a bit of help from the scientists, because we always have in the past. In contrast, many on the centre left seem to have an optimism that we have the answers, we just need to do it.
    As for Woolies, are they kidding ? Even in the 80’s it was like walking back into the 50’s and not in a good way.

  • Interestingly, the state of our politics/governance does not appear in the data shown. Was the question asked? Also competence does not feature. At this rate, we might get more favourable ratings on handling the economy than Labour and the Conservatives though the former can hide behind their inexperience.

  • Jenny Barnes 22nd Aug '22 - 1:35pm

    If you want to know what the Conservative membership ” thinks ” about climate change/net zero/ etc, look at the Conservative Home website. Trigger warning!

  • Kyle Harrison 22nd Aug '22 - 2:11pm

    If the Tories win older voters, as they do, and Labour and Lib Dems win younger voters then the differences of opinion on things like environment make sense. It’s just a demographic thing. Labour needs to win some of those less environmentally concerned older voters. If you believe in net zero, as I do. You need to make an ECONOMIC argument for net zero. Not polar bears and trees (despite your love of Attenborough documentaries). Allowing the debate to become about economy vs environment is bad news for environmentalists. The environment will lose. Ed Davey has already proved this. His bail out on energy bills encourages us to burn more gas. Higher prices, driven by gas, incentivises people to cut down on gas use. It encourages people to look at moving away from gas. The Lib Dem/ Labour policy is net bad for net zero.

  • Suzanne Fletcher 22nd Aug '22 - 5:57pm

    All very interesting thanks.
    But wondering about “Many seem designed to fill newspaper columns rather than advance the debate or help the unrepresentative few chose the next prime minister.”
    If Lib Dems were the largest party wouldn’t the leader of that party and PM be a vote of just Lib Dem members? But i may be wrong.
    PS I am elderly I suppose; live on an estate; haven’t got a Waitrose anywhere near.

  • Martin Gray 22nd Aug '22 - 8:01pm

    Any housing estate – old or new . The real world Gordon.
    The one that returns Tory governments time and again, much to our dismay .
    The one where millions of British people have never held any deep affection for the EU . & yes the voters that would quite easily vote for capital punishment ..
    Sad truths mate ….I’ve knocked on too many doors to realise that ..

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