Exclusive: Public support for PR, debt cancellation, decriminalising cannabis

Sienna Rodgers

UK adults support bold policy ideas going to Labour conference, including a switch to proportional representation for Westminster elections, debt cancellation and decriminalising cannabis, exclusive polling by Savanta ComRes for LabourList can reveal.

153 constituency Labour parties have called on Keir Starmer’s party to endorse a switch to proportional representation for UK general elections at conference this year – more than have made a single demand on any issue in recent conference history.

There has been no sign so far that the leadership will adopt the PR policy. While it has solid support among local party delegates, the campaign faces difficulties on the conference floor as just four trade unions have explicitly committed to backing it.

New polling by Savanta ComRes shows that 44% of UK adults back the switch to PR, with the rest saying they neither support nor oppose (25%), they oppose the policy (15%) or they do not know (15%).

One of the key ‘green new deal’ motions being sent to conference this year is on “global climate justice”. It calls for the cancellation of all low-income country debt held by UK institutions and legislation to prevent UK courts prosecuting countries stopping debt payments.

The Savanta polling results suggest this proposal has the support of the UK public. Asked about cancelling debts of poorer countries so they can better fund initiatives to aid climate change, 44% say they would support the move.

As for the remaining 56% of adults, 25% say they neither support nor oppose, 21% oppose it somewhat or strongly, and 11% say they do not know. Among those who do know their view on the idea, over 49% support it and 23% oppose it.

Another Momentum-endorsed motion advocates drug policy reform and urges Labour to support the “decriminalisation of the possession and use of drugs”, as well as legislation aimed at a regulated and publicly run drugs market.

A total of 41% say they support decriminalising the possession and use of marijuana, while 29% oppose it. 43% are against decriminalising the possession and use of Class A drugs, however, and 27% back this move.

The polling suggests there is also substantial support among UK adults for the ‘no recourse to public funds’ policy, which stops those subject to immigration control from accessing mainstream benefits and housing assistance.

Labour called for NRPF to be suspended during the pandemic and has said the policy should not prevent victims of domestic abuse from getting the help they need. It has supported initiating a review of ‘NRPF’ and its impact on health inequalities.

Below are the results of the latest polling by Savanta ComRes for LabourList.

To what extent do you support or oppose each of the following policies?

A proportional representation voting system for Westminster elections, whereby parties are assigned a number of seats based on the percentage of votes acquired nationally

Strongly support – 19%
Somewhat support – 25%
Neither support nor oppose – 25%
Somewhat oppose – 8%
Strongly oppose – 8%
Don’t know – 15%

Sum: Support – 44%
Sum: Oppose – 16%

Cancelling debts of poorer countries so they can better fund initiatives to aid climate change

Strongly support – 16%
Somewhat support – 28%
Neither support nor oppose – 25%
Somewhat oppose – 11%
Strongly oppose – 10%
Don’t know – 11%

Sum: Support – 44%
Sum: Oppose – 21%

The ‘no recourse to public funds’ policy, which stops those subject to immigration control from accessing a range of welfare benefits

Strongly support – 24%
Somewhat support – 22%
Neither support nor oppose – 24%
Somewhat oppose – 10%
Strongly oppose – 7%
Don’t know – 13%

Sum: Support – 45%
Sum: Oppose – 17%

Decriminalising the possession and use of marijuana

Strongly support – 18%
Somewhat support – 23%
Neither support nor oppose – 21%
Somewhat oppose – 12%
Strongly oppose – 17%
Don’t know – 9%

Sum: Support – 41%
Sum: Oppose – 29%

Decriminalising the possession and use of Class A drugs

Strongly support – 12%
Somewhat support – 15%
Neither support nor oppose – 20%
Somewhat oppose – 15%
Strongly oppose – 28%
Don’t know – 9%

Sum: Support – 27%
Sum: Oppose – 43%

Polling by Savanta: ComRes for LabourList. Fieldwork conducted 17th-19th September 2021. Poll of 2,112 adults in the UK.

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