Trustwatch 2024 verdict on the £2,000 tax row

During the 2024 general election campaign, we will be convening a 32-person “citizens’ conversation”, an ongoing panel of the public to understand how attitudes towards political trust change throughout the pre-election period.  Find out what our Trustwatch 2024 panel has told us so far.


Before, during and after the first leadership debate on Tuesday, we gathered reactions from people watching it among our Trustwatch 2024 panel – a group of 32 citizens who are giving us their reactions to key moments in the campaign. 

However, those watching the debate live represented a small proportion of the overall electorate. It is also critical to hear from those who did not watch the debate, but may have heard about it, and the discussion after. In particular, the days that have followed have been dominated by back-and-forth between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, as they both jostled for the trust of the public. This centred around a claim by Sunak during the debate, that, according to analysis from the Treasury, Labour’s plans would mean an increase in taxes of £2,000 per household. After a letter from the top civil servant at the Treasury was published saying this figure should not be ascribed to the Treasury, Keir Starmer yesterday called Sunak a liar. Meanwhile, Conservative politicians continue to emphasise the claim. 

The question remains, for those who didn’t watch the debate itself, have they followed the subsequent back-and-forth, and who do they believe?

The day after the debate, we gathered reactions among some of those in our panel who had not seen the debate. We asked them at 5pm on Wednesday 5th June about what they had heard and how it made them feel about trust in the two leaders. Many raised the £2,000 figure without prompt. We also asked specifically about the news this week about Nigel Farage entering the race, and the impact this had on their feelings about trust.

What follows is the verbatim messages from our WhatsApp chats. In describing the voting behaviour of each member of the panel, we’re referring to the stated voting intention they expressed before the campaign began..

Discussion of the debate

We asked for people’s main takeaways from the debate, and about whether they feel Starmer or Sunak did anything to build up or harm trust

  • People had heard about the £2,000 figure, but by this time tended to feel it was a lie.

SNP voter from Glasgow

I didn’t watch it. I saw a few snippets today. Sunak had needle stuck on the record with this £2k. I don’t think an election will be won or lost on 1 figure repeated constantly. From the little I’ve seen and heard about I think sunak comes across as pretty desperate. Starmer doesn’t have to do much on this showing as sunak doing all the losing all by himself. 

Conservative voter from London

I didn’t actually watch it live , but have read and seen some clips , from what I have derived it was conflicting information as usual,  the 2000 increase actually was shown to be 500 per year for 4 years , there seemed to be confusion over what exactly Labours policies are, also confusing details over tax cuts

Labour voter from Blackpool

Missed the debate last night but caught a small bit on the news saying the main take was Sunak talking about labour raising taxes by £2,000 and labour saying that’s not true!! I need to research it a bit more, but labour were saying this morning that it’s all spin. I’d like to think that labour are not lying!

Green voter from Cambridgeshire

I didn’t watch the debate but have watched some coverage of it. I guess one of the big areas regarding trust was Sunak talking about £2,000 tax increases under Labour multiple times, which turned out not be true

  • People felt the quality of the debate was poor 

Conservative voter from London

Thanks. I heard that the PM nicked it from Starmer- just & that he said Sunak lied over taxes. Frankly it appears rather lacklustre from both sides & Boris & Nigel I’m sure could have put on a much better show. Good Politicians need performance skills in the same way a Barrister does. I don’t believe that Starmer helped himself & he appeared like John Major – a little Grey Man without policies! The Great British Public only have themselves to blame when Starmer is ousted by his Left! Sunak needs to be given a chance & is actually making progress. It is still all to play for. 

Labour voter from London

General reflections seems to be that people were disappointed in it, and there was too much focus on throwing stones

Discussion of Farage becoming leader of Reform

We asked members of our panel how Farage becoming leader of reform affects their trust in the election, and how it might affect people’s trust in politics more generally. 

  • People felt the quality of the debate was poor 

Labour voter from London

Ohh 100% less there is a lot of negativity and rock throwing with that party and with Nigel at helm it makes me nervous about people being quite polarised. And believing the lies

Green voter from Cambridgeshire

Although I can’t stand Farage, at least his party is explicit about what their plan is. It’s mostly nonsense, and an admission that reducing immigration would be bad for the economy, but at least he’s committing to some policies. I guess his supporters will feel this gives them more trust in the election as they can vote for their guy

For me personally, I think the coverage Farage can get shows that the whole system is basically broken. He’s charismatic and makes bold statements,  in contrast to many other politicians who try to say nothing. He makes good TV. But he has no solutions.

The fact he gets taken seriously while left wingers are ignored or laughed at does not make me trust the electoral system or the Press. Also, the fact he and Reform are filling a vacuum demonstrates how little the Conservatives & Labour have to offer, and how little the public trust them. I think this is an election where there is little enthusiasm and not much hope for the next 5 years.

Conservative voter from London

I believe that NF has more Political understanding than most of our other Politicians put together. He is actually a Conservative. He will win for Reform & so will another 20 or so Reform candidates & he can then mould the Tory Party in the Reform image & will eventually lead OR have Boris J. lead a Reformed Tory Party. They   

will then lead this new Party & one will eventually become our PM. 

NF’s involvement gives me more trust for the future as I don’t fancy the Ultra Left taking over Labour! They are awaiting a Labour win on 4/7!