Research recently conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies has revealed widespread concern about climate change and the threat it poses to the UK, showing how environmental policy is an increasingly important issue for many voters. Indeed, the large majority of respondents to our latest poll say that a political party’s environmental policies matter some (36%), quite a lot (27%), or a great deal (18%) to them when deciding whether or not to vote for that party. Just 12% say a party’s environmental policies matter very little to them, and 8% say they do not matter at all.
However, our research also finds that the British public is not exceedingly aware of the major political parties’ environmental platforms. Of the six parties on which we polled, respondents appear to say they are most aware of the Conservative Party’s environmental platform, with 69% saying they know most or some of the Conservative Party’s environmental policies. On the other hand, 26% say they know nothing about them.
Meanwhile, 57% say they know most or some of the Labour Party’s environmental policies, which is twelve points lower than for the Conservatives. Remarkably, as many as 38% say they know nothing about the environmental platform of the Labour Party.
Interestingly, a plurality of both Conservative (50%) and Labour (43%) voters say they know only some of the environmental policies of the parties they respectively voted for in the 2019 General Election.
With respect to the Green Party—whose environmental policies are at the core of its platform—41% say they know nothing of the Green Party’s actual environmental policies, suggesting that the Green Party has struggled to convey even its key messages to voters. Alternatively, 34% of respondents say they know some and 20% many of the party’s environmental policies.
At the same time, majorities of respondents say they know nothing about the Liberal Democrats’ (50%), Scottish National Party’s (64%), and Reform UK’s (72%) environmental platforms.
Among respondents who say they know at least some environmental policies of the respective parties, approval of said policies is highest for the Green Party: 56% of those familiar with the Green Party’s environmental policies say they approve of them, while just 11% disapprove.
Approval of the Conservative Party’s (46%) and Labour Party’s (47%) environmental platforms among those familiar with their policies is also substantial. Though approval is similar for the two parties, a slightly greater proportion of those in the know disapprove of the Conservative Party’s (22%) environmental policies than disapprove of the Labour Party’s (14%) policies.
A similar proportion of 2019 Labour voters (70%) and Conservative voters (71%) approve of the environmental policies of the party for which they voted in 2019. However, while a plurality (40%) of Labour voters disapprove of the Conservative Party’s environmental platform, the plurality position among Conservative voters is one of neither approval nor disapproval (41%) of the Labour Party’s environmental policies.
With approval of the Conservative and Labour environmental platforms being nearly identical, the question is raised of how similar the parties’ platforms may be to one another. Indeed, a plurality (41%) of respondents say they find the respective environmental policies of the Labour and Conservative parties to be very similar, similar, or more similar than different. Still, 35% say the parties’ policies are very different, different, or more different than similar, and a considerable quarter (26%) say they don’t know. 2019 voters of the Labour Party (42%) and Conservative Party (42%) are just as likely to find the two political parties’ environmental policies to be similar.
Overall, although a large majority of Britons say that a party’s environmental platform matters at least to some extent when deciding whether or not to vote for them, most respondents admit to having only a limited knowledge of the policies endorsed by the UK’s various political parties—especially the smaller parties. Even so, net approval among those aware of each party’s specific policies tends to be solidly positive, and many even find the main two parties’ environmental platforms to be similar or, at least, more similar than different.