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John Cowan

I can't make myself interpret this as indicative, though I can see intellectually that it might be. I would have to reword it to get the indicative sense, using "for us to listen" or the like. This may be because the mandative subjunctive is dying in BrE but still alive, if formal, in AmE. See the comments to last year's Motivated Grammar post on the subject.

Warsaw Will

Perhaps it's because I know from people like Swan and Murphy that in BrE we normally use should instead of the present subjunctive, and because I've written about it myself, but I'm afraid I really can't see any ambiguity here.

In the sentence "It's really important that we do something", isn't it almost always going to be about a future action or something we should do? If it was about the present I would expect to hear a continuous form - 'It's important that we are listening to the people' (although that sounds a bit strange perhaps), or a construction such as 'continue to listen' or 'keep listening'.

And then there's that 'though'. She denied that they were out of touch but stressed that it was important to listen (that they should) to the people. That's my reading of it.

Peter Harvey

I agree with those points but I am still not sure that she knew what she meant. She could have meant "We listen to the British people and it is important that we do so [now]." If she meant that it was “fundamentally important that we listen to the British people” in the future, then she is admitting that they are not doing so now. And no politician admits that kind of thing.

Peter Harvey

I might add that Spanish has a highly developed* subjunctive mood, so I may tend to be rather sensitive to it.

*A euphemism for utterly baffling to non-native speakers. But then my Polish student told me she had given up trying to teach her Scottish boyfriend Polish because of something odd to do with noun declensions.

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