In Depth

UK voters ‘favour socialism over capitalism’

Polls shows support for public ownership of utilities, as Corbyn and May go into battle over the economy

Voters in the UK want the government to take a more socialist approach to economic policy by renationalising railways and utilities, while creating a wage cap for top earners, according to a new survey.

The report, published by the Legatum Institute, a centre-right think tank, shows that the views of the public on the economy are more in tune with Labour's policies than the Conservatives, in what The Times called a “warning” to the Tories on the eve of their party conference in Manchester.

According to the figures, 83% of British voters would prefer public ownership of water companies over privatisation, while 77% want to re-nationalise electricity and gas companies and 76% want the railways back under state control.

The news comes after a week of back-and-forth between Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn regarding economic policy. On Tuesday, the Labour leader attacked Britain’s “failed model of capitalism” and presented the Labour party as a government in waiting. Yesterday May hit back, hailing capitalism as the “greatest agent of collective human progress ever created”.

Although Corbyn remains personally unpopular, opinion appears to be siding with his policies. "The ground is shifting", says The Daily Telegraph, while the New Statesman declares: “After decades in which the market has held sway, voters are ready to summon Leviathan from the depths.”

Partly, says City AM, that's because socialism is no longer feared in the way it once was. “Many have disassociated the tragic and disastrous consequences of communist states from the socialist ideology which underpinned them,” it says. “Theresa May has finally spoken up for capitalism, wealth creation, enterprise and competition. But given the state of public opinion, it may too little – too late.”

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