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.