Embargoed: 00:01h Thursday 5 August 2010
Labour's new Leader should rebrand the party to reinforce their new policy agenda and signal a clean break from Labour's past, according to independent think tank Demos. New polling shows that Labour's brand is in toxic territory and that voters see Labour as 'out of touch' and representing the past.
Demos commissioned YouGov to undertake a 45,000 respondent poll on social attitudes and perceptions of the main political parties to understand the election outcome. The poll allows Demos to compare the outlook of voters Labour lost since 2005, with the ones they retained at the last election. The full poll results will be published in September by the Open Left project.
The most widely held perceptions of the Labour Party held by people who voted Labour in 2005 but not in 2010 were:
- 'weak' (73%)
- 'divided' (72%)
- 'out of touch' (66%)
- 'I never hear from them' (60%)
- represent 'the past' rather than the future (58%)
While a change of leader is likely to shift perceptions of 'weakness' and 'division', Demos warns that Labour's biggest problem is being seen as 'out of touch', which will take more than a change of leader to address.
A quarter (25%) of voters who remained loyal and voted Labour still felt the party was 'out of touch' compared with just one in twenty (5%) Tory voters who saw the Conservatives as 'out of touch'. Only 67% of all Labour voters thought Labour was 'in touch' while 85% of Tory voters saw the Conservatives as 'in touch'.
More than two thirds of men (70%) saw Labour as 'out of touch', compared with just over half (55%) of women. A third of women (33%) said Labour were 'in touch' compared with just over one in five (22%) men. Older voters were significantly more likely to see Labour as 'out of touch', as were those voters in the South of England.
More than half of voters that Labour lost (58%) said Labour represented 'the past' and only a third (66%) of those who voted Labour thought the party represented 'the future' compared with 89% of Tory voters viewing the Conservatives as 'the future'. Half (50%) of all younger voters (18-34) thought Labour represented 'the past' but this was even worse, just under two thirds (60%), with older (55+) voters. Voters in the South of England were most likely to see Labour as 'the past' but half (50%) of all voters in the North of England agreed.
Richard Darlington, Head of the Open Left project at Demos, said:
"Labour's brand is broken and the new Leader will need to do major repositioning based on new policy. That doesn't mean Labour should ditch their values but they will need to dump some old policies and redefine the party with a new policy agenda and a brand that shows they have changed.
"It was a decade before Theresa May was able to admit that the Tories were seen as 'the nasty party.' Labour need to face up quickly to the fact that they are seen as 'out of touch' and representing the past not the future.
"Labour campaigned for 'a future fair for all' and was much criticised for choosing the slogan. This polling evidence shows that Labour's campaign only half worked: Labour failed to claim 'the future' but Labour did manage to deny the Tories the political territory of 'fairness'."
The polling shows that Labour was successful in convincing voters it 'cares about ordinary people', with a seven point lead over the Conservatives (47 to 34%). More than half of voters (54%) said the Conservative Party 'cares about only a select few' compared with 42% who said that of Labour.
But the poll also shows that Labour is still viewed as 'untrustworthy' by more than half (57%) of voters and that the Conservatives are seen as having a 'clear sense of purpose', with an eleven point lead over Labour (54 to 43%).
Notes to Editors
For the full data, please contact:
Ralph Scott, Communications
020 7367 6325
For media enquiries, please contact:
Beatrice Karol Burks, Press and Communications Officer
020 7367 6325
079 2947 4938