Red Wall voters back public energy

New poll shows strong support for public ownership of energy across key battleground seats

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A strong majority of voters living in Red Wall seats back public ownership of the UK’s energy system, an exclusive new poll has revealed.

The recent survey carried out by pollsters Survation found that overall 64 per cent of voters in Red Wall seats agree that the UK’s domestic energy industry should be brought back into public ownership, while 73 per cent say the National Grid – gas and electric – should again be publicly-owned.

Broken down by region, two thirds — 66 per cent — of Midlands Red Wall voters supported bringing the UK’s domestic energy industry into public ownership, while 75 per cent supported renationalising the National Grid.

Similarly, northern Red Wall voters backed bringing the UK’s domestic energy industry into public hands by 64 per cent, and supported a publicly-owned National Grid by 71 per cent.

Meanwhile, in Wales, an absolute majority of Red Wall voters polled – 58 per cent – said they wanted to see the UK’s domestic energy industry under public hands, with nearly three quarters, 73 per cent, of respondents supporting the National Grid being publicly owned.

Commenting on the poll’s findings, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Public ownership of our energy industry is not just crucial for the future of the country but a vote winner across key battleground seats.

 “We’ve seen how the 1980s model of selling the family silver has failed. Rising prices and crumbling infrastructure for the public, massive profits for the corporations. The public have had enough and it’s time for politicians to choose whose side they are on.”

 “Voters want real change and Labour must grasp that opportunity,” she added. “If record energy profits had been used to help the British public, rather than given to overseas shareholders, we could have cut the average household bill by £1,800 and inflation by over four per cent. It’s time to put people before the profiteers.”

The poll surveyed more than 2,000 voting aged adults living in constituencies in the Midlands, North of England, and Wales which the Conservative Party won from the Labour Party in the 2019 general election.

The survey results come as Unite took a motion calling for the energy industry to be returned to public ownership to Labour Party Conference earlier this week. Despite the motion being overwhelmingly passed by delegates, Labour’s leadership has not committed to include the measure in its next manifesto.

Moving the motion at the conference on Monday (October 9), Unite general secretary Sharon Graham gave a barnstorming speech that was punctuated by cheers and applause from the conference floor.

In her speech, she said, “Labour’s job is to be the voice of workers and our communities and yes, to make different choices — we must take our energy back into public hands.”

Turning to the failures of energy privatisation, she highlighted how people in France have drastically lower energy bills because they own their own energy, while in the UK, “we have let energy monopolies fill their boots, by picking the pockets of UK workers – how they must have laughed”.

Graham went on to call on Labour to “be bold; to do what it says on the Labour tin”.

“Back ordinary men and women and be their voice — the people who clean our roads, who teach our children, who look after our parents. Let’s put our arms around them like we did in 1945. And Labour, let them be in no doubt whose side we are on,” she concluded, to a standing ovation.

As the call for public ownership of energy gains more and more momentum, Unite has also this week launched the latest iteration of its Unite for a Workers’ Economy campaign by asking “Who Should Our Economy Work For?”

The extensive physical and online advertising campaign has made waves throughout Liverpool with ads featured on billboards, taxis, newspapers and online.

Earlier this year, the Unite Investigates team made an ironclad case for renationalising energy in an in-depth, fully costed report, which you can read here.

By Hajera Blagg