MORE than half of Conservatives and almost a quarter of Nationalists back the death penalty as punishment for some serious crimes, a major study of political activists has found.

The snapshot of more than 4,000 members of the four main UK parties surveyed shortly after the 2017 General Election also found that there was strong support across the opposition parties for a second referendum on the Brexit deal.

Some 91 per cent of Liberal Democrat members backed the proposal - which is the party’s official policy – as did 87 per cent of SNP members, 85 per cent of Labour members and just 14 per cent of Conservative members.

Jeremy Corbyn has not totally ruled out Labour backing EUref2 at some point, stressing how at present his party is “not advocating” another poll, while the SNP’s Ian Blackford has noted how his party’s leadership has not closed the door on supporting a nationwide vote on the Brexit deal.

The survey “Grassroots: Britain's Party Members,” published by the Mile End Institute at London’s Queen Mary University, reveals the stark differences on some issues between the members of the different parties.

Tim Bale, Professor of Politics at Queen Mary, said: "Britain's party members are the lifeblood and the footsoldiers of our democracy. But that doesn't necessarily mean they look like or think like their parties' voters or, indeed, look or think like each other.

"The Tory grassroots, in particular, are something of a breed apart from their Labour, Lib Dem and SNP counterparts."

The report found Tory members were significantly more authoritarian than other party backers with 54 per cent in favour of the death penalty for some crimes, compared to 23 per cent of SNP supporters, nine per cent of Labour activists and eight per cent of Lib Dem backers.

Some 84 per cent of Conservatives believed schools should teach children to obey authority while 38 per cent of SNP and Lib Dem members backed such a policy and 31 per cent of Labour members did so.

The research also suggests Conservative members appeared to be the most disillusioned about how they were treated by their party’s leadership.

In one telling piece of research, the survey notes how during last year’s election campaign Labour lead the way with a minimum of 1.39m “campaign activities” claimed by its large membership compared to 323,000 by SNP members, 264,000 by Lib Dems and just 262,000 by Tory members.

“If what members do for their parties does make a difference to how they do in elections, then Labour’s surprisingly impressive performance, at least in terms of share of the vote if not share of seats in the Commons, may well have been partly down to its huge advantage over the Tories in this respect,” adds the survey.