Presentation on theme: "Why do people vote the way they do?. The influences are complex. There are many influences on voters in the UK. They are complex. They are changing. They."— Presentation transcript:
Why do people vote the way they do?
The influences are complex. There are many influences on voters in the UK. They are complex. They are changing. They are also inter-related, not separate. We all have a social class. We all have a gender. We all have a race. The media is also an influence. But there are many different types of media. And the different social classes access different kinds of media. Let’s look at the different influences and come to some conclusions.
Social Class 2010 Social ClassCON (%)LAB (%)LIB DEM (%) AB C C DE Voting by Social Class Source: Ipsos MORI Social class remains a key influence. Why?
Social Class Up until the 1970s there was a clear two party system, with Labour seen to be championing the working class, the Conservatives the middle and upper classes. Since then, the middle class has grown in size. All the major parties now compete for the middle ground. The FPTP system also encourages parties to ignore “safe” seats and win over floating voters in marginal constituencies. The Electoral Reform Society claims that 382 out of the 649 seats are so safe that any opposition vote is a wasted vote.
Social Class and First Past the Post It is the party which wins the most seats throughout the country who wins UK General Elections. Not the party which wins the most votes. But to win seats, you need to win votes. There are 649 seats in total and each is a distinct geographical area. These areas are separated by social class. Richer people tend to live next to other richer people. Poorer people can only afford to live next to other poorer people. So, many seats are either “safe” Conservative or “safe” Labour, depending on their social class composition. For example….
Safe Seat: Richmond (Yorkshire) 2010 ResultVotes% of vote CON33, LD10, LAB8, GREEN1, Percentage of children living in poverty 9% Average male life expectancy: ResultVotes% of vote LAB20, SNP4, LD2, CON1, OTHERS1, Percentage of children living in poverty : 44% Average male life expectancy: 68 Safe Seat: Glasgow North East
Social Class Still Matters So while, average incomes have risen and we all own more material possessions than ever, the gap between rich and poor still exists. Indeed, it is growing. This gap shows itself in a whole number of social/economic statistics in health, education, crime and housing. Why should voting behaviour would be any different? Voters tend to vote for the party which they feel represents their economic interest. The sociologist Danny Dorling points out that it was voters in the best off constituencies which swung most firmly towards David Cameron. “Even as they are becoming more numerous, Tory voters are becoming more geographically isolated”.
Labour continues to do best among poorer sections of the community. But, a national aspect also enters the equation. Scottish voters, perhaps seeing the General Election as a two horse race between Labour and Conservatives, returned Labour MPs with increased majorities. Labour won in even the most affluent areas, e.g. East Renfrewshire. The Conservatives won just 1 seat in the whole of Scotland. The Scottish Factor Jim Murphy romped home in affluent East Renfrewshire Pamela Nash, Airdrie and Shotts is the youngest MP in the House of Commons.
Gender is an influence too Women used to have a strong attachment to the Conservatives. In fact, if it wasn’t for the female vote, Labour probably would have won every post-war General Election up until Since then, their vote has been up for grabs. It is middle class women who are sought after though. Poor women, like poor men, tend to vote Labour. So, meet those who are not so committed. “School Gate Mum”, for example. School Gate Mum is the British version of the “Soccer Mums” found in the USA. They are working women who have demanding lives, balancing work and family responsibilities.
Women by class CONLABLIB DEM AB C C24125 DE The Conservatives won clear majorities among women who have a career, work or have higher disposable incomes. A vital demographic group. Part of the Cameron agenda was for the Conservatives to have more female candidates and be more family friendly. Did this work? 2010 Gender and Social Class Importance of the female vote
Age Traditionally younger voters are more likely to support parties promising social change. For some time, the Conservatives core vote has been among older, affluent voters. But, the Conservatives this time promoted a more youthful identity.
2010 Age AgeCONLABLD The Conservatives this time did much better among younger voters….while keeping it’s core elderly vote.
Race Black voters, traditionally are more likely to be Labour supporters. So too are Asian voters, but not as strongly as blacks. Labour, in general, has been seen to be more sympathetic to the needs of minority ethnic voters. But, David Cameron worked hard to lose the Conservatives the image as the “nasty party”. The Conservatives made big efforts to win the votes of minority voters. Gordon Brown’s slogan “British jobs for British workers” was, ironically, taken up by the BNP. The BNP, with it’s explicitly racist message, failed to win any seats.