Are ‘red wall’ constituencies really opposed to progressive policy? Examining the impact of materialist narratives for Universal Basic Income

Matthew Johnson*, Elliott Johnson, Daniel Nettle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is often presented as desirable in theory, but unsaleable electorally. Policymakers fear intuitive, ‘values’-based opposition from socially conservative voters, whom the policy would benefit materially, but who might regard it as ‘giving others something for nothing’. We provide evidence from ‘red wall’ constituencies in Wales and the Midlands and North of England that indicates this presumption of voters is wrong. In Study 1, we find high levels of support for the policy, with different narrative framings more effective for different groups based on their material interests. In Study 2, we used a novel ‘adversarial collaboration’ method to show that simple narratives can strongly increase support for UBI even among respondents who initially see themselves as fundamentally opposed. The generated narratives stressed positive, material consequences of introducing UBI, rather than conformity with abstract values. This indicates that policymakers should exercise caution over ‘values’-based explanations for preferences.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalBritish Politics
Early online date18 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Oct 2022

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