Despair was the order of the day in The Lawyer’s survey of voting intention for the upcoming general election. More than 1,700 lawyers responded, with the solicitor who employed the phrase “God help us all” summing up the mood of those who left comments.
The majority of commercial lawyers are now expressing an intention to vote for the Liberal Democrats come polling day. Fully 40 per cent of respondents said they planned to cast a vote for the party, ahead of the Conservatives (26.5 per cent) and Labour (18.9 per cent).
The Liberal Democrats were the favoured choice across all age ranges except the over-60s (among whom the Conservatives came out on top); the Lib Dems were also the preferred option this time round for partners, non-partner solicitors, barristers and in-house lawyers.
However, the Labour Party is slightly ahead among non-qualified fee-earners such as paralegals and trainees.
The Lib Dems also topped an April 2017 poll of the profession conducted by The Lawyer in the run-up to the last general election, but by the time of a follow-up survey in June they had faded to third place. This time around we asked how certain respondents were about their choice.
Those intending to vote Conservative were most likely to say they would stick by their choice, while Green Party voters were most likely to be wavering.
However, those lawyers who voted Lib Dem in 2017 are far more likely to be sticking with the same party this time round than 2017 Labour or Tory voters. Only 58 per cent of 2017 Conservative voters and 54 per cent of 2017 Labour voters are planning to vote for the same party again in 2019.
No deal or Corbyn?
We asked whether lawyers would prefer a no-deal Brexit or a Corbyn government. While some respondents felt it was an unfair question because it implied one or both of those eventualities were bad, it was included in direct response to comments we have been hearing from partners across the City who have brought it up as a debate topic unprompted on multiple occasions.
The result: Jeremy Corbyn in charge of the country is preferable to no-deal, most lawyers say. Fifty-five per cent of our respondents agreed this was the case with Conservative, UKIP and Brexit Party voters forming the bulk of those disagreeing.
Remain v Leave
While some lawyers do favour leaving the European Union, it is fair to say the majority are against it. Of the respondents to this survey, 80 per cent voted Remain, 14 per cent to Leave and the rest did not vote or were ineligible.
Of the respondents to this survey, Leavers have swung almost uniformly behind the Conservatives, while Remainers are more divided.
None of the country’s political leaders scored well among our respondents, with the leaders of the two main parties Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson, scoring as negatively as each other for favourability. Corbyn averaged 3.24 out of 10 and Johnson 3.68 out of 10.
Nigel Farage was the least-popular of those named among lawyers, averaging 1.96 out of 10, while outgoing Speaker John Bercow was most popular, though he still only averaged 5.82.
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson scored 5.35, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas 5.2 and Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon 4.55.
The responses were heavily divided along party lines, naturally, but even among Labour supporters Corbyn only averaged 6.12 – lower than Caroline Lucas (6.86) – while Johnson averaged just 6.3 among those intending to vote for the Conservatives.
Conservative voters most frequently scored Johnson as 8 out of 10 and Corbyn as 0 out of 10; conversely, the most frequent rating of Corbyn among intending Labour voters was 6 out of 10 while they rated Johnson 0 out of 10 most often.
Our readers entirely failed to predict a hung Parliament in our 2017 poll, so whether you have any special insight is debatable, but this time round half of you currently think the Conservatives will come up short of a majority once again.
The comments left in the free text box were almost entirely despairing and without the wit and good humour that readers of The Lawyer usually supply to our surveys. There were plenty of comments against both Corbyn and Johnson and just one solitary respondent gave a positive endorsement either of them (“Boris can unite the nation, governing to advance the freedom and prosperity of all,” barrister, 61+, M). Here is a sample, if you can bear it.
- “As a dyed in the wool Tory I won’t be voting for them again until they get rid of that divisive buffoon Boris Johnson.” (Business professional, commercial law firm, 51-60, F)
- “I will vote for any party committed to remain. I don’t trust any of the current political parties, but none less than Johnson and Corbyn. I think they are both vile excuses for human beings.” (Business professional, commercial law firm, 31-40, F)
- “Rees-Mogg should resign. I am embarrassed that he is my MP.” (Partner, commercial law firm, 41-50, M)
- “‘Anyone but Boris’ now has to be ‘Anyone but Corbyn’. Can I bring myself to vote Conservative to keep out Corbyn if it means more Boris? I don’t think so. LibDem it probably is, even though in my constituency that probably means more Labour. AAGGGHHHH!” (Partner, commercial law firm, 41-50, F)
- “Brexit is the worst move Britain could possibly make. The country’s being held hostage to the ridiculous politicians who can vote many multiples of times on an issue, yet refuse with religious zeal to allow the people to see whether they’ve learned anything since three years ago is beyond reason.” (Partner, commercial law firm, 61+, M)
- “I do not have much choice in voting as I can’t see how anyone would vote for the morally bankrupt Rees-Mogg who is the incumbent in my constituency and Labour offer dangerous economic policies that will send the nation into a debt spiral. Interesting that you don’t have any other parties factored into the potential results of the election…” (Partner, commercial law firm, 41-50, M)
- “Where is the option for a narrow Liberal Democrat majority above??? Two-party politics is broken guys.” (Solicitor, commercial law firm, 31-40, M)
- “I despair at the current political climate. It is all David Cameron’s fault.” (Non-solicitor fee-earner, commercial law firm, 31-40, M)
- “Why are you still asking about Brexit and nothing else?” (In-house lawyer)
- We received a small number of comments accusing the survey of being biased towards, variously, the Conservatives, Labour, Remain and Leave. It has given us an insight into what it must be like to be journalists at the BBC.
- We also received an accusation of London bias. Given the demography of the commercial legal profession and especially the Bar, around half of our UK readership is London-based and Scotland and Wales were grouped together in some questions to give us a statistically significant sample: even together, they made up a smaller set of responses than any other region.
- In all seriousness, thank-you to everyone who took part. Writing good surveys is hard and we appreciate your feedback.