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I was looking at some figures the other day comparing a breakdown of each party’s vote on class lines at the 1992 GE with what happened in 2010. I was surprised the extent to which the Tory vote has become more working class and the Labour vote more middle class in that 18 year period.
Since 1992 Labour have lost a fifth of their support among the DE social classes, and in excess of a quarter of their support among the C2 class. In contrast Tory support among those two groups was virtually the same in 2010 as it was in 1992, at around 30%. Indeed among DEs it was actually higher two years ago.
What seems to have happened is that the Tories have regained all of the support they enjoyed among the working class during their period in power. The reason the party has been unable to regain an overall majority is because it has won back virtually none of the support it used to enjoy among the middle class.
Labour on the other hand are continuing to use class war rhetoric despite the fact that it seems to be appealing to an ever smaller proportion of the working class people who presumably it is aimed at. The party is slowly becoming a one that poses as defender of the working class, but relies more and more on middle class support come election time. The supposed major beneficiaries of Labour policies are showing a decreasing likelihood to actually go out and vote for them.
But it appeals to the hard-pressed working class sons of Judges who live in Kew
‘The reason the party has been unable to regain an overall majority is because it has won back virtually none of the support it used to enjoy among the middle class.’
The Tories achieved big swings in a swathe of middle class seats – Richmond Park, Oxford West, Winchester, Harrogate to name but four – and whilst these might have been to the expense of the Lib Dems rather than Labour, they did win back some middle class seats from Labour like Broxtowe and Pudsey
What I do see, as in America, is a definite long-term trend of working class, non-university educated, people residing primarily in rural areas, shifting from supporting parties on the Left to those on the Right – although the Toriers aren’t the only party of the tright who have benefiited from this – as can be seen by the inncrease in support for not only the BNP but other fringe Rightist groups like UKIP and the English Democrats
So whilst the Torires fortunes might have plummeted amongst one group of voters – it has grown amongst another – and think how successful the Republicans have been in the US over the last few decades – precisely because of this phenomenom
Very funny Pete – but I’ve never pretended to be a fluffy, Tory-lite Blairite. I have been left-wing since my late teens after a brief more loyalist phase.
In any case, do we REALLY want all our judges to be pro-Conservative? My father was a very rare example of a judge who had (and still has) socialist attitudes; you could count all the other living ones pretty much on the fingers of one hand. Most judges, although they are precluded from being party members while serving, are of course supportive of the Conservative Party in their private lives.
I do indeed live in Kew, but would have zero chance of buying a house or flat in this area were I starting today on the income my household has.
I would add that Kieran’s analysis is of course correct. Labour has suffered a major reduction in its support amongst social classes D & E. I think there are signs that it is on the increase, but it would be wrong to pretend that it hasn’t happened.
The desertion from Labour of the C2s has been worse than that from the DEs. Labour’s problem is that the fact of this desertion conflicts so markedly with the party’s cherished self image that I think that will struggle to come up with a way of reversing that loss of support any time soon.
The figures I cited are part of a process of class de alignment that goes back many decades. Middle class Tories are now a minority, while Labour cannot command the support of more than half of even the unskilled working class.
While this poses problems for Labour it does the same for my party. The Tories face the wider problem that more people say they will never vote Tory ever than is the case for any other major party. From the very start we are fishing in a smaller pool of potential voters than any other contender for power. The Conservatives also have the dilemma of whether to go chasing the middle class voters that deserted the party after 1992, or pitch for more working class support as the Republicans have done (as Tim says) with some success in the US.
In the short term I would sooner we went after the middle class. I don’t see the Tories winning more working class votes than Major did in ’92 any time soon.
I do think that there is some merit in the Tories courting middle class voters. Mostly in Lib Dem seats where they are in second place such as Bath, Twickenham and Leeds NW and also certain Labour seats where house prices are very high like Hampstead & Kilburn, Islington South & Finsbury, Hammersmith and Holborn & St Pancras. I don’t think there is much more scope among working class voters for them apart from possibly ex-mining seats. The Tories are definitely going to find it difficult to expand their vote base much beyond its current levels.
‘Most judges, although they are precluded from being party members while serving, are of course supportive of the Conservative Party in their private lives.’
That surprises me Barnaby
The ludicrously lenient sentences that judges throughout the UK routinely hand down to people convicted of ghastly crimes left me to believe that there weren’t many genuibe Conservatives left in the judiciary
‘The supposed major beneficiaries of Labour policies are showing a decreasing likelihood to actually go out and vote for them.’
Economically I’ve often thought that, but these middle class types who vote Labour, bleeding heart liberals or whatever you want to call them are also attracted to Labour’s politically correct progressive social policies, which under Blair have taken precedent to any kind of economic socialism, which is probably why the Labour vote has declined so much with the lower socio-economic groups in the UK
Personally I think Labour’s best chance would be to endorse Mo Glassman’s Blue Labour agenda. Otherwise I fear these votes will be lost for good. Sadely for them I can’t see Milliband doing so
‘In the short term I would sooner we went after the middle class. I don’t see the Tories winning more working class votes than Major did in ’92 any time soon.’
But Cameron did try that in his first couple of years as Tory leader and he could argue – as others on here have – that it yielded little in electoral capital and almost united his party against him
I’d hate the Conservatives to become an all-out right wing, Republican-style of party but I really do think they are wasting their time in pretending to be socially progressive. voters do know have right wing alternatives and its party’s like UKIP that are the Tories biggest problem
Cameron actually bettered Major’s result in some very working class seats – Nuneaton, Cannock, Dewsbury, Warwickshire North – so whilst like you I’d prefer the Tories to go after the middle class vote by being more liberal, I suspect there’s more votes for them from being more Conservative
Exciting times indded
Barnaby I made no comment on the desirability of the particular political persuasions of judges, although I do share Tim’s suprise that a majority of judges are supposedly on the political right. I was having a gentle (hence the smiley~) dig at your suggestion that the class war was continuing when the class war you seem to advocate is against the class to which you clearly belong. At what point do you think that the class war will be over? When we have a dictatorship of the proletariat of which you are not a part? Personally I was a bit of a fan of John Major’s views about a classless society and I think to a very large extent we have that in this country now which is why the attitudes of people like Skinner are so outdated and irrelevant. I also fail to see how a political philospohy which seeks to divide and to set one group in society against another, which is based at its core around hostility to one element of society is morally superior to groups like the BNP who who do the same but with referance to race rather than to social class
Cameron’s got a lot to deal with at the moment and the Conservative party has got to be very careful as to how it positions itself for 2015. It doesn’t want to alienate potential UKIP voters even further, but it does need to size the opportunity to take advantage of Labours current weaknesses to show themselves to be the party of the working man.
But I doubt the part can successfully do that with Cameron as leader. He’s focused the party so much around his own brand of Conservatism and tried to flood the parliamentary party with A listers, that the broad church needed for party unity is now being lost. And you only need to look at seats like Birmingham Edgbaston and Westminster North to see how the voters the tied targeting last time (urban, public sector) reacted to them.
Labour will always be seen as the natural party of the working man, but with the right leadership, it is possible that the Conservatives can go back to their position under Thatcher where they were winning significant proportions of the working class vote and were being poor doesn’t always mean voting Labour.
I know the Conservatives got a lot of C2DE votes in 79, 83 & 87. but out of interest, how well did they do amongst those groups under Heath in 70 and McMillan in 59?
And sorry about the post that started this discussion off. I was meant to but it on the Bolsover thread, but I posted it on here by mistake.
And Barnaby, I didn’t mean it seriously. I’m not a big fan of class war myself. Society needs to (and already has to some extent) moved on from the old class battles of the past.
“I was having a gentle (hence the smiley~) dig at your suggestion that the class war was continuing when the class war you seem to advocate is against the class to which you clearly belong. At what point do you think that the class war will be over? When we have a dictatorship of the proletariat of which you are not a part?”
Far be it from me to answer for Barnaby.
However, I believe that the left have shifted the goalposts of “class war” from the old-fashioned working class versus middle and upper class division. Today it is the “99 per cent versus the 1 per cent”.
However unrealistic and wrong their analysis is, they believe it is millionnaires, bankers, and politicans versus everybody else. And Barnaby and I assume everyone posting here will be part of the 99%.
And it is unfortunately not just Labour who are subscribing to the new class war, some on the right have these kind of views as well. Of the regular posters on here, Richard and dare I say it you yourself sometimes seem to be of this kind of tendency. Richard certainly talks a lot about “elites” and “the overclass”.
I talk about a cultural liberal elite which holds sway in areas like the broadcasting media and the law and education which is a quite different thing.
Yes I accept that, and quite often agree with you.
It could be argued that the UKIP view of Europe feeds into the new class war though. Eurocrats are definitely demonised as being part of the 99%.
On this I think you’re much more of a grey area than Richard, whom I would definately categorise as a new class warrior from the right.
I meant Eurocrats are definitely demonised as NOT being part of the 99%.
Time for me to go to bed I think
As a market researcher I can say with authority which class I belong to. I’m a C1 – I have no supervisory responsibilities – whose parents are ABs. Most though not all of my neighbours will be in higher social classes than mine. I’m surprised that anyone’s seriously surprised that judges are almost (though not quite) invariably Tories. You mention the lenient sentences, but I’d hardly describe some of the sentences handed down to last year’s rioters as lenient. Naturally it’s the sentences which are perceived to be lenient which get the attention in certain tabloid newspapers; there’s plenty of harsh sentencing which goes on in Britain, I can assure all of you. I don’t think my father would come under either category when he was a criminal judge – neither excessively lenient or excessively harsh.
I think the Tories did do pretty well amongst the C2s in 1970 and 1951-9
but not nearly as well as in 1979 (and to 1992)
Tory support among C2s was 41% in 1979. Not far above the 37% the party achieved in 2010. The story is similar with regard to DEs with Tory support holding up pretty well in 2010 against 1979, an election at which threw party scored 44% overall.
As I mentioned above the Tories problem since 1997 had been a failure to recover lost votes from the middle class. The Conservative vote there collapsed from over 50% in every election before 1997 to below 40% and has yet to recover. At 39% the Tory vote among ABC1s in 2010 was 39%; the same as it was in 1997.
For the most part the working class Tories who supported Thatcher and Major in 1992 have returned to the fold. The middle class voters who did likewise have yet to do so.
‘For the most part the working class Tories who supported Thatcher and Major in 1992 have returned to the fold. The middle class voters who did likewise have yet to do so.’
You also wonder the effect of the Lib Dems halving of support would have resulted as polls have consistently shown that the Lib Dem voters most disillusioned with their decision to go into government with the Tories are from the middle classes – who you assume will now be voting Labour
There’s surely a lesson in that not to annoy the WWC
with duff policies on crime for example.
Some of the middle class is public sector, and I suspect those are some of the most anti Tory groups.
The figures for class voting do vary – I suspect one has to do an estimate by unscrambling recent election polls into the results.
I have seen a 45-45 figure for C2s in 1979 but suspect 41/42 each is more accurate. Although the Libs would poll lower than average amongst C2s, just 10% for everything else seems too low, even for 1979.
I suspect the Tories held about level in 1983, went up in 1987, and lost a little bit in 1992.
By and large that is pretty much right Joe. I think that there are distinctions within the public sector middle class though. Up to now I am sure that NHS GPs and more senior hospital doctors – and that is quite a lot of people – have been clearly more Conservative than Labour. So clearly have been more senior police officers (perhaps ALL police officers). The Tories seem to have gone out of their way to annoy these groups disproportionately and it would be most interesting to see if they have maintained their traditionally strong position with them. Clearly though there are other sections of the public sector middle class – teachers & lecturers are a good example to start off with – who are not primarily Tories nowadays. Perhaps the public sector workers who are most Tory-inclined still are in the armed forces
The Tories always have to upset people with tough decisions after the alternative government mismanages the finances.
1992 was pretty even for C2s between Con and Lab – so similar to 1979.
Perhaps 1% less each.
The figures for class voting that I was referring to are here:
Its intersting that already by 1987 the Conservative lead amongst the middle class was lower than it had been in 1974 and by 1992 Labour enjoyed a significantly larger share of that group, the difference being made up by a big pro-Conservative swing amongst the working class. It is true of course that the middle class would have both expanded greatly and become more diverse in the course of those couple of decades
‘It is true of course that the middle class would have both expanded greatly and become more diverse in the course of those couple of decades’
I think that’s a key and often overlooked factor explaining changes in voting behaviour
The % of middle class people has doubled or even trebled over the last 40-50 years or so and for me the whole New Labour project was a recognition of this – that Labour could no longer win elections by getting a majority of working class people to vote for them
Indeed I do HH but let me point out that there are two overclasses – a leftist/statist overclass and a wealth/business overclass.
While rivals for power they do sometimes share beliefs, in both being pro immigration for example – although for different reasons, the leftist/statists wishing to see a breakdown of rival societal organisation and an increase in the power of the state, the wealth/businesses wishing to see lower pay rates and higher property prices.
But on this I seem to be something of a prophet – take a look at this Charles Moore piece in the Telegraph:
Incidentally my dislike of the metropolitan overclasses would have been in complete accordance with the views of my two grandfathers – one a miner, the other a Morning Star minor shop steward engineering worker.
As we wouldn’t have agreed politically a generation ago and as my views haven’t changed it seems that the world has shifted to bring their ‘old labour’ beliefs close to my ‘new rightist’ views.
Although I am a Labour party member, this candidate and his activities in Lambeth would be exactly the sort of policies which would encourage me to leave the party and never vote for them again
I second that.