Energy bills, fuel duty and tax top voters' concerns

Survey shows that most feel Conservatives are the party of the rich – while Labour still can't be trusted to run the economy

Reducing energy bills, fuel duty and the overall tax burden are the key concerns of voters going into this Thursday's local elections, a study suggests today.

Research by the think tank Policy Exchange found that close to two-thirds of the public believe the Conservatives are the party of the rich, but more than half think Labour still cannot be trusted to run the economy.

To address these concerns, Labour swing voters said the party needed to pledge to control welfare spending and stop people "ripping off" the system. Swing Conservative voters wanted the party to reduce the cost of living for ordinary people.

With only three days of campaigning before the polls open, politicians in all three main parties are downplaying expectations of how well they will do.

While Labour is expected to gain significant numbers of seats in urban areas and the North, the party is bracing itself to lose control of Glasgow to the SNP and fail to take back the Mayor's job in London. A net gain of more than 700 council seats would generally be regarded as a good night for Ed Miliband, but if Labour takes fewer than 400 seats the results would reopen questions about his leadership.

The study by Policy Exchange looked in detail at the political landscape across the country and in particular difference in perceptions between the North and South.

It found that the Conservative lead among people in the rural south is 42 per cent, but Labour's lead among people in northern cities is 43 per cent. In the rural north the Conservative lead is 10 per cent, while Labour is ahead in London.

But voters across the UK expressed high levels of anti-political sentiment, with 81 per cent saying politicians did not understand the real world.

When asked what political priorities should be, half said reducing energy bills and 43 per cent reducing fuel duty.

Neil O'Brien, director of Policy Exchange, said it was too neat to talk about a political north-south divide and that the real variations were between urban and rural areas.

"It's certainly true that the Conservatives do better in the south and Labour in the north, but within these regions there are huge differences," he said. "If you took the TransPennine Express from Liverpool to Newcastle you would find that 13 of the stops are in Conservative-held seats and 19 in Labour. It is in the northern cities specifically that the Conservatives do badly rather than the North as a whole."

He added: "The results of our research show that political parties need to focus on addressing cost-of-living issues such as reducing energy bills and the price of petrol rather than broader issues affecting the state of the nation. The evidence also suggests that neither Labour nor the Conservatives have succeeded in appealing to ordinary working people."

Meanwhile, a poll commissioned by Lord Ashcroft, the former Conservative Party Treasurer, found that just 4 per cent of black voters and 7 per cent of Asian voters identify with the Tories.

The poll, of more than 10,000 people, underlines the problems facing Conservative attempts to win an outright majority at the next election with Britain's ethnic-minority groups now accounting for around 10 per cent of the country's population.

Suggested Topics
Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
techResearchers recover 100s of nude photos from second-hand smartphones
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Digital Marketing,London

To £58k Contract 12 months: Charter Selection: Major household name charity se...

Network Support Engineer / Junior Test Analyst

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: A market leading, in...

Key Account Manager, Medical

£35000 per annum, Benefits: Excellent commission structure + Car: Charter Sele...

Key Account Manager, Medical

£35000 per annum, Benefits: Excellent commission structure + Car: Charter Sele...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice