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Revealing the election issues we can all agree on, and those that divide us

Jul 1 2024 • 4 min read

In the run-up to the General Election, we have been using CogCo’s ‘ekota’ platform to understand what election issues really matter to people across the UK.

Ekota allows participants to give their opinion on a question and vote on other people’s opinions using our intuitive interface. Unlike a standard survey, this enables us to gather people’s opinions in their own words; and to understand what other people think about them.

You can join in yourself by clicking on the screenshot of the ekota platform below.

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We recruited a nationally representative sample of 500 people across the UK, who collectively submitted 232 unique opinions, which were then voted on by their fellow participants. In total we received 19,581 votes (i.e. people ‘agreeing’ or ‘disagreeing’ with other people’s opinions).

The word cloud below gives a sense of the wide range of views expressed in the opinions that were submitted.

Some of these issues would be expected by anyone following the election coverage. Three of the most salient issues, for example, were the state of the NHS; cost of living crisis; and political dishonesty and corruption. In these areas, there were a huge number of opinions submitted, and near universal agreement that these were issues that needed to be urgently addressed.

In relation to the NHS, 95% of our participants agreed with the statement that ‘the NHS needs to be sorted, at the moment it’s crumbling’ (see statement 19 below, where green is ‘agree’, orange is ‘disagree’ and grey is ‘pass’).

When it came to the cost of living, energy prices remain prominent, with 90% agreeing that the ‘energy price cap should be lowered’. And in relation to political dishonesty, 92% agreed that criminal or untrustworthy activity should prevent someone from holding office. Interesting, this issue came up, unprompted, just before the latest election betting scandals emerged.

There were also a wide range of less prominent issues that also garnered very high levels of support. Almost everyone, for example, agreed on a range of opinions submitted that focused on the need to improve UK roads (see statement 66 below), which might explain why the issue of potholes has risen in prominence in the speeches of prominent politicians in the past couple of weeks.

Similar levels of support were given to the need to ‘clean up the rivers and oceans’; and to views calling for improvements in the provision of dental care. For example, 88% of participants agreed that there was a need for ‘more NHS dentists, especially for children’s orthodontic needs’.

But the great British public did not, of course, agree on everything. Some of the most divisive issues related to those issues that are now the battlegrounds of the major Parties’ manifesto campaigns. Just over half of our sample disagreed with the idea of (re)introducing national service for 18 year-olds (see statement 215 below). But amongst those who said that they were likely to vote Conservative, there was a clear majority in favour.

There was a similar split in opinion on the issue of voting for 16 year olds (a Labour manifesto commitment). Most of our sample are not in favour of it, but support is much higher amongst Labour supporters (55% either agree or pass) than most Conservatives (82% oppose).

In relation to immigration, it’s a much more complex story. We found that most questions relating to immigration suggested that the British public believe it needs to be ‘sorted out’. And that it is ‘out of control’. But most people also believe that there should be ‘proper planning for immigrants to earn a living and support their families (see statement below).

But you don’t need to take our word for it. You can explore the results yourself on our friendly results dashboard. You can even filter the results by different profile questions such as age, gender, voter intention and media consumption.

You can also visit the ekota website to find out more and request a demo.

But most importantly, remember to get out there and vote!

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