Tory voters ‘prefer higher interest rates’


Voters who backed the Conservatives at the last election would prefer to save more profitably through higher interest rates than borrow more cheaply as a result of lower rates, polling has found.

More 2019 Tory voters believe that public spending is too high than too low or “the right amount”, according to the survey.

Redfield and Wilton Strategies polled 930 people who voted for the Conservatives at the 2019 general election.

On saving and borrowing, respondents were asked: “Low interest rates set by the Bank of England typically benefit borrowers by making it cheaper to pay off debt. Higher interest rates typically benefit savers by allowing savings to grow more.

“Which is more important to you - being able to borrow more cheaply or being able to save more profitably?”

In total, 56 per cent said they preferred to save more profitably, compared with 29 per cent who opted for borrowing more cheaply. Fourteen per cent said they did not know.

The findings suggest that higher interest rates may not be universally unpopular, despite panic among some Conservative MPs about increases by the Bank of England and a potential backlash by constituents facing higher mortgage payments.

Philip van Scheltinga, director of research at Redfield and Wilton Strategies, said: "Our polling finds that people want to save their hard-earned money reliably, not live beyond their means on borrowed money.

"Last week’s Budget, which allows taxpayers to keep more of their money and will force the Bank of England to raise rates, is a first step towards bringing voters back towards the economic normality they desire.”

However, when it came to a decision by the Bank of England on whether to raise interest rates in October, there was a three-way split.

Twenty-six per cent said they wanted to see interest rates increase, while 25 per cent wanted them cut and 27 per cent wanted them to stay the same.

On public spending, 47 per cent said the Government was spending too much, compared with 26 per cent who felt it was the right amount and 10 per cent who believed it was spending too little.

While the polling might provide Liz Truss with some reassurance that she is pursuing the correct strategy, separate research by More in Common due to be unveiled at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham on Monday suggests the Tories risk losing votes on their Right flank.

In focus groups in Red Wall seats over the past fortnight, More in Common identified a new group of voters - dubbed “disillusioned defectors” - who could power a surge in support for the populist Right, similar to that seen in Italy, Sweden and France.

Testing a series of “populist policies”, from leaving the European Court of Human Rights to increasing criminal sentences and ending public funding for diversity and inclusion initiatives, a core group of about 20 per cent of the Tory vote in the Red Wall consistently said they would support a party that advocates these policies.

Analysis of the Red Wall seats the Conservatives won in 2019 found that if this group switched its backing to a new populist party, the Tories would lose 20 seats to Labour - even if Sir Keir Starmer’s party did not gain a single extra vote.

At a focus group in the South Yorkshire constituency of Don Valley on Thursday, voters commented on the disorder in the financial markets this week.

Daniella, a nurse, said: “The pound's crashed, obviously, it's massively affected banks with mortgages and stuff … it's only going to put the cost of living up even more.”

But despite the chaos, the group did not want to see another change in leadership that could open the door to more turmoil.

Shelley, a teacher, said: “We’ve had too much change already and I think we need to get some policies in place that actually have time to start working.”

Luke Tryl, the UK director of More in Common, said: “Anxiety about the reaction to the mini-Budget, the rising cost of living, and a perception that the Conservatives haven’t yet delivered on levelling up, tackling crime or stopping small boats mean that if things carry on as they are, the door could be open to the next Nigel Farage to eat into the Conservative vote.

“When we asked voters who left the Labour Party in 2019 why they switched to the Conservatives, they gave us three reasons - Brexit, Boris and Jeremy Corbyn, none of which now apply.

“Instead, our research now finds that a chunk of these voters are in the market for something new and would be tempted to vote for a new party on the populist right.

“Some good news for the Government is that these voters still haven’t made up their mind, they still want to see how well Liz Truss delivers and aren’t yet fully convinced by Labour.”