A vast majority of voters believe politicians are more concerned with insulting each other than solving Britain’s problems, a poll suggested amid Tory fears of ‘blue on blue’ attacks during the party’s leadership contest.
More than four out of five (82%) of voters expressed concerns about division in politics in Opinium research for the Compassion in Politics campaign, shared exclusively with HuffPost UK.
Nearly two thirds (65%) of the British public and 60% of Tory supporters also want the next party leader and prime minister to be more compassionate to the public, the research suggested.
It came after Tory leadership contenders criticised insurgent candidate Rory Stewart, who has launched by far the most vicious attacks on Boris Johnson, including questioning whether he could be trusted with Britain’s nuclear codes.
Tories are concerned about Stewart and Johnson going head to head in the final stage of the contest - a vote of party members - because they fear a divisive contest which could damage the party’s reputation.
Meanwhile, in a damning verdict on the state of British politics, the research showed nearly four in five voters (79%) think politics does not serve their interests and priorities need to change.
Jennifer Nadel, co-founder of Compassion in Politics, said the polling showed that Tory leadership hopefuls need to “set-aside point-scoring and the divide and conquer style of politics we have grown tired of”.
The research also showed support for a compassionate next prime minister, with more than two thirds (68%) thinking society should be judged on the way it treats those who have least.
A vast majority (86%) also believed there should be a safety net for those who fall on hard times, with support for the welfare state rising with age.
Nadel said: “The figures released today show clear support for putting compassion at the heart of British politics.
“Too many politicians have become divorced from the values most voters care about: they need to reconnect with their constituents, rather than pursuing their own divisive ideological orthodoxies, and set aside the hunger of their own ambition to listen to the public who want a more compassionate politics both in substance and in style.
“So our challenge to the Conservative leadership hopefuls is this: to set-aside point-scoring and the divide and conquer style of politics we have grown tired of and instead stand up for the values of kindness, respect, and compassion, and to do its deeds as well as in words by pursuing an agenda which protects the least well off, improves public wellbeing, and safeguards our future.”
Molly Maclean, research executive at Opinium, said: “As a society we’re very divided on politics but it’s encouraging to see that some key principles can still attract widespread support from across the political spectrum - 86% of voters (including 86% of Conservative supporters) say it’s important that society provides a safety net for those who fall upon genuine hard times” and 73% of voters (69% of Conservative supporters) say that politics is too focused on the short term at the expense of future generations.
“Even on the statement where one would expect a large party gap, that society should be judged by how it treats those who have the least, is supported by a majority of Conservatives (58% vs. 68% of all voters).”
Opinium sampled more than 2,000 British adults between June 7 and 10