Polling shows support for public ownership and throws down challenge to Labour

A new poll conducted by Survation, on behalf of rail union RMT, has revealed how decisive a factor public ownership of the railways will be in the general election in 2015. The poll was released ahead of Labour’s National Policy Forum.

Survation polled 1011 constituents by telephone in four key marginal Conservative/Labour “battleground” seats essential for Labour to win in the pursuit of an overall 2015 majority. Seats selected were Crawley (CON), Stevenage (CON), Reading West (CON) and Milton Keynes South (CON).

The findings show that not only is public support for public ownership solidly supported across the political spectrum but that in the key seats surveyed it could prove decisive next year. The key points from the polling are:

  • Adopting a policy of public ownership of the railways would have clear electoral benefits in marginal commuter seats. A quarter of Tory voters in key marginal seats would be somewhat likelier to switch parties on this issue.
  • Voters reject private rail franchise operators in key Conservative seats held 2015 battleground seats required for a Labour majority.
  • A clear majority of Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP voters reject the current status quo based on rising fare prices and would expect a better service under public ownership.
  • Almost one half of Conservative voters in 2010 would bring their local rail operator back under public ownership at the next opportunity. Seventy-four per cent of current UKIP voters support public ownership of the railways.

The new polling by Survation is the most recent evidence of public support for public ownership of the railways. It has already been previously established in polling by Survation, YouGov and others that continued private ownership of the UK’s train operating companies is generally unpopular.

The Action for Rail campaign continues to call for public ownership of the railways, calling for the franchises to be brought back into public ownership as they expire, giving a better deal for taxpayers, passengers and staff. Our next day of action will be on August 19, where we will be asking passengers to contact their MPs, to channel the wide support for public ownership into pressure for a publicly owned alternative.