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Politics

Two-thirds of UK voters want more long-term thinking from politicians

Lord John Bird’s bill could hold the key to getting ‘red-wall voters’ on side as poll shows almost three quarters of swing voters want UK government to do more long-term planning

Almost three quarters of swing voters in the country want the UK government to do more to plan and prepare for long-term threats – as Big Issue founder Lord John Bird hopes to do with his Future Generations Bill.

The 1,500-person study found 69 per cent of the public want the government to do more to plan and prepare for long-term threats.

That expectation rises the longer a party is in power, just under two thirds of the public said, with the government also having a greater chance of building a positive shared legacy. 

There is also a strong appetite for reform to the political system, with 62 per cent of Brits surveyed calling for greater accountability for ministers.

Lord Bird said his Future Generations Bill aims to make transparency over future decision-making a priority.

“My mission was clear: to eradicate short-termism; a symptom of our beautifully imperfect democracy and a trait intrinsic to human nature,” he said.

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The Tories’ decisive victory in the last general election in 2019 hinged on the party’s conquering of traditionally Labour-voting constituencies in the north-east of England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party has since faced the challenge of keeping northern voters on side while dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. That was epitomised by the party’s bruising defeat in the Chesham and Amersham by-election on June 17, where it surrendered a 16,000 majority to the Lib Dems.

With another by-election in Batley and Spen this week, the research carried out by Portland Communications suggests the ideas behind the Future Generations Bill could be key to gaining power, whether the Tories, a Labour rebuild or for other parties outside the traditional big two.

Lord Bird’s private member’s bill, which aims to set wellbeing targets that bring long-term thinking to Westminster to tackle issues such as poverty and climate change, is currently making its way through Parliament. 

The bill passed its second reading on June 25 and is now continuing its way through the House of Lords.

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If it comes into force, the bill will look to bring longer-term thinking to Parliament, and the poll, commissioned by The Big Issue’s Today for Tomorrow campaign, showed voters want politicians to consider the future in their decision-making.

“So, I implore the government to take an urgent look at this report – and then, start acting.”

Barrow MP Simon Fell also introduced the bill to the House of Commons as a presentation bill on June 21.

Fell read out the title of the bill in the chamber to give the draft legislation its first reading before MPs get their first chance to debate it on September 10.

“The research out today really highlights the importance of putting long-termism at the heart of UK politics, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because our constituents, especially in newly-Conservative seats such as mine, are asking us to do it,” said Fell.

“And crucially, our bill helps to bolster the work already underway by Government including the levelling-up agenda, Build Back Better as well as the net zero carbon by 2050 strategy. This is clearly a great solution to some of their most ambitious policy agendas.”

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