To help us answer some of these questions ippr has conducted an online poll of Prospective Parliamentary Candidates from across the different parties. This excluded sitting MPs and included only those who had a serious chance of winning – either in safe seats for their party or in marginal contests.
Our first finding was that if PR is the deal breaker in a hung parliament, both David Cameron and Gordon Brown will find it difficult to persuade their backbenchers to back electoral reform. All of the Conservative PPCs polled supported first past the post, while only 10 per cent of Labour PPCs backed PR or a mixed system as used in
On the PPCs’ ideological positions the survey found that Labour and Lib Dem PPCs have much more in common with each other than either set of candidates do with the Conservatives. This confirms that a coalition between Labour and the Lib Dems would be much easier to hold together politically than an arrangement between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives.
Our survey found that:
- Most Labour and Lib Dem PPCs agree that government should redistribute income from the rich to the poor. Only 30 per cent of surveyed Conservative PPCs supported income redistribution and 47 per cent opposed it. Labour PPCs are slightly to the left of Lib Dem PPCs on questions of redistribution and the welfare state: 67 per cent of Labour PPCs against 33 per cent of Lib Dem PPCs agree strongly that government should redistribute income.
- Labour and Lib Dem PPCs are less in favour of tougher sentences for criminal offences than Conservative PPCs, with Lib Dem PPCs being the most liberal.
- 59 per cent of Conservative PPCs disagreed with the statement that too many people’s lives would be damaged by cutting benefits, compared to just 7 per cent of Labour and 17 per cent of Lib Dem PPCs.
- 70 per cent of Conservatives agreed that the welfare state ‘crowds out’ civic endeavour and community self-help, while most Labour and Lib Dem PPCs disagreed.
- 91 per cent of Lib Dem PPCs agreed that we have been too reliant on the City for growth and should curb its role, compared to 44 per cent of Labour PPCs. Most Conservative PPCs opposed action to reduce the role of the City in the economy.
- Lib Dem PPCs are the least interventionist on foreign policy, with 91 per cent wanting
to stop trying to be a major military force in the world, compared to just 27 per cent of Labour and 6 per cent of Tory PPCs. Britain
- 59 per cent of Tory PPCs think the EU is a threat to the
’s national sovereignty, whereas Labour and Lib Dem PPCs overwhelmingly reject this. UK
- Whereas all Labour and Lib Dem PPCs agree that climate change is real and man made and requires major social changes, only 53 per cent of Tory PPCs believe this.
Finally, in terms of how the candidates were selected, we found that in most cases the candidates were locally based or had some local roots. There was little evidence of lots of London-based candidates being parachuted into constituencies. What is more noticeable about the selection process is how few people are involved in it: 75 per cent of these PPCs were chosen by fewer than 200 party members and 28 per cent by fewer than 100. The only party to have broken out of those small numbers were the Conservatives – many of whom had been selected in primary contests.