The future of the left since 1884

No Right Turn: Britain's enduring support for public services

There is very little appetite for a US-style small-state and swing-voters' views are much closer to Labour than to Conservative opinion. The left should therefore resist urges to seek out a middle-way that cedes ground to the right on public service debates. Labour can set out a collectivist case for maintaining high quality, tax-funded public services.


The political right, and many on the left, have long assumed that the people of Britain want the state to be smaller. But new Fabian research suggests that progressive advocates for the state and tax-funded public services have reason to be confident. ‘No Right Turn’ is based on original qualitative and quantitative research which explores how people respond to some of the main arguments for and against the state and public services. Over nine hours of focus groups plus a nationally representative opinion poll provide a rich picture of how the public view the debate around the role of the state.

The idea that we all depend on public services at different stages of our lives, and that tax-funded public ser vices are a way of caring for those less fortunate in our society , were both popular . So too were the themes of contribution and desert, with the importance that public services play throughout everyone’s life cycle a key theme.

The left should resist the urge to seek out a middle-way that cedes ground to the right on public ser vice debates. Labour can be confident and bold in making pro-state arguments and can set out a collectivist case for maintaining high quality, tax-funded public services.

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Andrew Harrop

Andrew Harrop is general secretary of the Fabian Society.


Natan Doron

Natan Doron is a former senior researcher at the Fabian Society.


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