A landmark study of public opinion in the UK post the General Election has found that there is widespread support for Labour’s nationalisation agenda and much less support for free enterprise. Public opinion in the post-Brexit era—written by our Senior Fellow Matthew Elliott and co-authored with Populus’ James Kanagasooriam—paints an unvarnished picture of what the public think about enterprise, regulation, big business, banks, nationalisation, capitalism and socialism, suggesting that support for capitalism is in crisis. It suggests that economic attitudes in the country are further to the left than is widely appreciated, posing a challenge for those who have seen at first hand the power of competition, entrepreneurship and free trade to drive prosperity.
This report is the beginning of a new phase of work at the Legatum Institute. Having published reports on the Dutch, French and German elections this year, looking at right-wing populists such as Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen and the Alternative für Deutschland, Matthew Elliott will now be looking more closely at left-wing populists. This research will not just cover Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, but also Bernie Sanders in the US, the GreenLeft in the Netherlands, Jean-Luc Mélenchon in France and The Left in Germany. Having witnessed the growing popularity of populist ideas, we intend to explore the reasons for these attitudes and identify what can be done—by opinion-formers, politicians and the public —to explain the case for free enterprise more effectively.