After spending the previous week in Brighton with the Labour Party we’ve now returned from Manchester, where we took our stand, report and questions to Conservative Party Conference to help us get a flavour for the attitudes towards charity held by delegates of the UK’s governing party.
Replicating our approach from the previous week, we asked Conservative conference attendees to answer a number of questions about charities. We’ll be looking at how the responses differed to those we received at Labour Party Conference in the next few days, but first wanted to explore how attitudes of attendees at Conservative Conference compare to those of both Conservative MPs and Conservative voters.
We started off by asking whether charities deliver public services effectively. In Manchester, 80% of those voting at our stand said ‘yes,’ compared to 20% who disagreed. Amongst Conservative MPs, 75% think charities do a good job of delivering public services, a figure that drops substantially to just 42% of Conservative voters who feel the same way.
Our next question asked whether charities should be protected from public spending cuts, finding that 72% of attendees at Conservative conference agreed. This is a significantly higher figure than both the 55% of Conservative voters who agreed, and the 23% of Conservative MPs who want to see charities protected from public spending cuts.
Next, we asked whether charities are trustworthy. A resounding 84% of conference attendees said that they are, which compares favourably to the 63% of Conservative MPs and 59% of Conservative voters who agree – both numbers of which are higher than amongst the public as a whole.
Conference attendees next told us that they strongly agree that charities should be able to campaign and challenge policies, with 93% of visitors to our stand agreeing with this statement. 60% of Conservative voters also agree with this, however just 33% of Conservative MPs feel the same way.
Our final question asked whether charities are good at demonstrating their impact. Only 37% of attendees agreed, compared to 44% of Conservative MPs and 48% of Conservative voters.
We were delighted to have so many visitors to our stand in Manchester, with over 300 votes cast across the week. Our questions proved to provoke a great deal of thought, leading to excellent conversations about the role of charities in modern Britain.
Our fringe event proved a great success too, with another packed room on hand for a discussion about the challenges and opportunities facing charities. Attendees had the opportunity to hear insightful contributions from Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Cllr Mark Hawthorne (Leader of Gloucestershire County Council) as ResPublica’s Caroline Julian, after Katharine Peacock from ComRes walked the audience through the findings in more detail.
We’ll be going into more detail about what we learned once conference season is fully out of the way, but first we’ll be heading to Aberdeen for SNP Conference. We’ve teamed with SCVO for an event looking at the future of charities in Scotland. If you’re there, join us! Here are the details:
A Charitable Nation? The future of charities in Scotland
1830 – 1930, Thursday 15th October
Room 9 AECC
As ever, refreshments will be provided!