Labour’s lost working class support

May 14, 2015 at 12:45 pm (class, democracy, elections, labour party, middle class, posted by JD, workers)

By John Trickett (re-blogged from his website)

This is a defining moment for the future, and arguably the survival, of the Labour Party. In the coming months there will be much debate about what went wrong and where next.

In 2005 I produced evidence that Labour had lost 4 million voters since the election in 1997. A substantial part of these missing millions were traditional working class voters. This pattern has continued over the last 10 years.

In a minor tidal wave of what looks like pre planned statements, a group of commentators have argued that what lost the election was a failure to tap into the hopes of “aspirational” voters.

However, there is not a shred of evidence for their argument. The explanations for our defeat are deeper than this simplistic assessment.

The truth is that Labour recovered amongst middle class voters but has suffered a cataclysmic decline among working class voters.

It is possible to scrutinise now the initial voting analysis provided to me by the House of Commons Library.

If we compare the election results for our last election victory in 2005 with the result last Thursday and analyse by social class, a very interesting pattern emerges.

Here are the figures.

2005 2010 2015
AB 28 26 27
C1 32 28 30
C2 40 29 30
DE 48 40 37

It is possible here to see that the proportions of AB and C1 voters who voted Labour in the last three elections has held steady. Indeed Ed Miliband’s leadership led to a mild recovery of these voters between 2010 and 2015, (as it did among the C2 group.)

A full analysis of what happened last Thursday is not yet possible but at least one opinion poll has shown that ‘the election result implied by polling would give the Tories 12.5 m votes and Labour 12.2 million. However, in the event the Tories secured 11.3 million votes and Labour 9.3 million.’ There were almost 3 million Labour identifiers that we failed to mobilise.

Labour’s electoral base last Thursday was by far the most middle class we have secured in our history. A strategy based on a misunderstanding of what is happening in our country will not work. We cannot expect to win an election without reaching out to other layers of the population and equally mobilising those Labour identifiers who didn’t bother to vote.

In the coming leadership election, candidates need therefore first of all honestly to demonstrate that they can develop a three-fold strategy in England (Scotland is a very special case):

A)      Hold on to and indeed increase our middle class  vote

B)      Reach out to working class voters, and

C)      Mobilise Labour identifiers who did not vote Labour.

I will shortly publish further reflections on what we do next. However, the party should not elect a Leader who cannot concretely demonstrate that they can deliver B) above, since they are the largest group of the electorate whose support we have lost.

Those in the PLP with leadership aspirations cannot remain in denial or ignorance of these facts. They do so at their own peril, but more fundamentally fail to understand why the Labour Party exists.


  1. RDS said,

    What do AB, C1, C2, and DE stand for?

    • Steven Johnston said,

      The fact that you have to ask means you are probably in the AB bracket.

      • RDS said,

        Then AB must stand for American.

  2. Jim Denham said,

    What does RDS stand for?

    • RDS said,

      Revolutionary democratic socialism. 🙂

  3. Jim Denham said,

    Ah! You’re an American, RDS: hence your lack of familiarity with all this:

  4. Steven Johnston said,

    A) Hold on to and indeed increase our middle class vote

    B) Reach out to working class voters, and

    C) Mobilise Labour identifiers who did not vote Labour.

    How much did he get paid to come up with this? I hope it’s a lot as I was going to ask the Libdems for some money for just presenting them with A – C and cleverly changing the work Labour to LibDem.

  5. finbar said,

    Maggie,altered Labour!s populist vote and support,buy letting them into the home ownership market,a predominant realm of the middle class,and the rest is slaved debt history.

    Our majority of youth and adult employed,in the past,forty hours slaved for a wage to service their rent/board/mortgage,all now casual,on call or zero slaved,with the minimum exception of forty hours a week.

    Our youth are so self serving and locked into mindless celebrity culture of me and self,our middle aged locked into debt that dare not rise against to disturb,and our elderly,comforted in their investment of freehold home ownership,or others not fortunate enough to bother why care.

    • Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

      Looks like there’s no working class left to bother about. We are all middle class now. Students are getting their grants from the taxpayer and have no social conscience and only live for me me and fuck the rest.
      Old Maggie won.

  6. finbar. said,

    Maggie,won, for us letting debt its usury to control letting our selves not dare challenge the boss that is and will always exploit for their profit usury get away with it, to protect our home mortgaged debt,that the capitalist construct Banks usury years profit exploit bleeds.And we allow,for fear of our debt and minimum value owing of,how much is your profit of the debt that still owed.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Please don’t personalise capitalism. It was not Maggie’s fault, she cannot be held responsible for the problems of capitalism and was powerless to do anything to resolve them.
      But looking at the figures she spent just as much as any other PM, if not more on the NHS.
      For those of you as old as me might remember Kinnock, now in 1988 Kinnock said the the problem of the NHS was it was under-funded, if he was in power he’d give it an extra 2 billion a year…Fatchers answer was to put an extra £3 billion in!

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