Are the rail strikes a “wedge” issue?

Majority of voters back rail strikes and think Boris Johnson not doing enough to prevent them

Andrew Woodcock

A majority of voters think this week’s rail strikes are justified and two-thirds (66 per cent) think the government has not done enough to prevent them happening, according to a new poll.

The survey, by Savanta ComRes, found that 58 per cent of those questioned thought the strikes were justified, against just one-third (34 per cent) who say they are not.

The findings, based on a poll of 2,336 adults on Monday, suggest that Boris Johnson’s attempts to use the strikes as a “wedge” issue to draw a political line with Labour may not be succeeding.

However, Savanta’s political research director Chris Hopkins cautioned that opinions may shift over the course of week of disruption during which three strike days are planned.

Strikingly, the poll found that six in 10 (60 per cent) say that they are generally supportive of workers striking, while just 35 per cent were generally opposed.

The poll indicated that more voters blame government than the unions for the industrial action, which is expected to be followed by more strikes later in the year.

Some 66 per cent said that the government had not done enough to prevent them happening, 61 per cent said the same about transport secretary Grant Shapps, 57 per cent Network Rail and 49 per cent the RMT.

Younger voters aged 18-34 (72 per cent) and Labour voters (79 per cent) were more likely to see the strikes as justified compared to their older (44 per cent) and Conservative-voting (38 per cent) counterparts.