Friday, August 27, 2010

Labour’s lost voters

As this has come up lately during the Labour leadership campaign, I thought I’d look at the socioeconomic status (or ‘class’ as I believe some people quaintly call it) of voters abandoning the party.

I’ve used MORI’s ‘how Britain voted’ data going back to 2001, the last time Labour won convincingly. To focus on political shifts rather than changes in the population, I’ve assumed a consistent electorate for all three elections of 2010 size and social structure: 44.4 million people, of whom 27% are social group AB, 29% C1, 21% C2 and 23% DE.

Over the two parliaments, Labour lost about 80,000 ABs, 560,000 C1s, 990,000 C2s and 650,000 DEs.

I’m not saying ‘therefore we must elect X’ or ‘therefore we must move to the Y’. These are just the numbers.

Update: Following some interest from Left Outside, I’m happy to share another chart I produced en route to the above. It shows the percentage of each social group – the total electorate, not just those turning out – that voted Labour. Since 2001, Labour has lost 3% of its support among ABs, 19% among C1s, 39% among C2s and 22% among DEs.

I’d focused on the previous set of numbers because – from the point of view of a party wanting to recover from defeat – you need to gain numbers of votes. A big percentage drop among a small group could distract from this. That said, I think a fairly similar picture emerges either way.

1 comment:

Alun said...

Of course all of that assumes that the ABCDE classification has any meaningful relationship to social/class/whatever realities in Britain and that aggregated poll internals are likely to produce an accurate breakdown of voting patterns amongst specific groups; neither of which are true.
If you look at elections from a different point of view - comparing actual election results to known information about individual constituencies - then a different picture emerges; Labour has suffered large drops in support almost everywhere. Yes, there have been big falls in most traditional Labour strongholds, but there have been outright collapses in more than just a few middle class and agricultural areas.
While I don't really disagree with the automatic response to the figures you posted, I think it's dangerous to base electoral strategy around dubious statistics based on abstractions that have little relationship to the actual structure of British society; doing that was one of the more series electoral errors made by Labour over the past two decades.

That probably made very little sense.