71% of Brits say no to oil and gas money going to MPs

People in the UK don’t want their politician’s taking money from the oil and gas industry. That’s the headline from our YouGov poll (conducted during the 2024 General Election), with a whopping 71% of respondents taking the view that fossil fuel cash should have no place in politics.

This is despite a recent analysis by DeSmog that found that oil and gas interests, highly polluting industries, and climate science deniers donated almost £10.6 million to the major parties since 2019.

Over £8.4 million went to the Conservative Party, with the Lib Dems and Labour receiving £132,600 and £41,600 respectively. While the skew may reflect the fact that the Conservatives have been in government for 14 years, the anti-net zero party, Reform UK, has received more than £2 million from such donors since December 2019.  

Coming off the back of an energy crisis in which oil and gas companies raked in record profits, whilst energy bills soared, it’s clear that the public recognise the dangerous link between those companies and the political establishment.

The polling also told us that two-thirds (66%) of UK adults view politicians who take oil and gas money less favourably, with only one in five saying it would have no impact at all on their view of a politician.

A similarly small number, just one-quarter of respondents to the poll, thought that oil and gas industry should be advising ministers on energy issues. Sadly, not a view likely held by those in power, with our recent analysis showing that UK government ministers met with fossil fuel representatives on average once every working day in 2023. This contact peaked around the introduction of the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill in November, which the government said last year it intended to use to ‘max out’ the UK’s North Sea oil and gas reserves.

Our findings also gave an indicator of what the public want to see from the next government, with a majority (51%) of UK adults wanting the next government’s energy policy to focus on renewables and clean energy. Only 28% said they want the government to pursue an energy strategy that includes both fossil fuels and renewables, and just 8% want the government focused solely on maxing out North Sea oil and gas.

The next UK Government will enter office amidst a worsening climate crisis and off the back of an energy crisis that saw poverty rise and had deep dependence on oil and gas as its root cause. Real climate action means listening to the right people – and blocking out the influence of bad faith actors in the oil and gas industry. It’s not just what we need – it’s also what the public wants.