Hostility Barometer 4: Labour and Tory voters “disgusted” by one another in a very divisive election

  • The atmosphere of the election due to take place on Thursday is seen by British citizens frustrating (66%), divisive (62%) and hostile (60%).
  • Citizens’ frustration and anger do not only target political parties but also opposite voters.
  • 49% of those intending to vote Conservative feel some “contempt” towards Labour voters, and 68% of those intending to vote Labour feel some “disgust” towards Conservative voters.
  • Over a quarter of voters could even imagine insulting those who vote for other parties.

The Electoral Psychology Observatory at the LSE and Opinium have just conducted the 4th wave of their joint Hostility Barometer in the run up to Thursday General Election. The results show extreme negativity with regards to the atmosphere of the election and high levels of hostility not only towards politicians and parties but also towards (opposite) fellow voters.

  • British citizens believe that the atmosphere of the 2019 General Election is best described as frustrating (66%), uncertain (65%), divisive (62%) and hostile (60%).
  • By contrast, only 13% of citizens characterise the atmosphere of the election as pleasant and 15% as friendly.
  • Citizens tend to hold very negative feelings towards those voting for parties that they dislike. For instance, 48% of Conservative voters say that they feel some disgust towards Labour voters, 49% some contempt and 57% feel distrust.
  • Conversely, 65% of those intending to vote Labour and 57% of those planning to vote Liberal Democrat feel angry towards Conservative voters. 68% and 51% respectively feel disgust towards those Conservative voters.
  • The levels of hostility expressed by citizens also threaten the way people live together. 23% of those intending to vote Conservative could imagine insulting someone because they are voting Labour.
  • This is even more obvious in the other direction with 38% of those intending to vote Labour who could imagine insulting someone because they are voting for the Conservative party. 25% of citizens intending to vote Labour would also refrain from inviting people for dinner if they knew them to be Tory voters.

Dr Sarah Harrison, Deputy Director of the the Electoral Psychology Observatory (EPO) says,The verdict of young British citizens towards the state of electoral democracy is extremely severe. With nearly 2/3 finding the atmosphere of this week’s election ‘frustrating’ and nearly half describing it as ‘poisonous’, this is an entire generation feeling disappointed by democracy before they even get a chance to shape it”

James Endersby, CEO of Opinium says: “Our joint Hostility Barometer with EPO shows that voters are very negative about the atmosphere of the current election, as we appear to be growing further apart from one another rather than coming closer together. We look forward to continuing to monitor the state of electoral hostility across the UK and in the US in our joint EPO-Opinium Hostility Barometer.”

Professor Michael Bruter, Director of EPO says: “The levels of contempt and disgust expressed by citizens towards those who vote differently from them are terrifying and show that across the political spectrum, the toxicity of electoral politics now affects the relationship between citizens themselves and the way they interact on a daily basis.”


See the full tables here.