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The shape of British politics. October 11, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Here’s a stat from the Analysis podcast on BBC. David Cowling, UK political scientist, notes that at the 1900 General Election 99% people voted for Tory, Labour or Liberal. In 2004 that was 94% and in 2015 77%. In Ireland we’ve seen it go from 82% in 1927 to 72% in 2011 to 57.6% this year.

Cowling notes that it was only FPTP which ‘thwarted’ a change in parliamentary representation. And he argues that it dues to a growing ‘disconnection’ between the parties and people. And yet, and yet, look at how the Tories are doing remarkably well.

The programme then visited the constituency of the only UKIP MP, Clacton-on-Sea, and talked to people there. One person, a former life-long LP voter had gone over to UKIP. Their first complaint, that Corbyn had no charisma. The second, as to what UKIP offered them?

Keeping them… well… I’m not racist or anything but… just kept the borders and keep us… you know because it’s just too many people, too many now.

Asked ‘so immigration would be a really big issue to you?’ the answer was ‘all the way’.

Isn’t that telling? No mention of austerity, just Corbyn and immigration. Other former Labour voters were the same, albeit in the background there was this sense of the LP abandoning them and their concerns, but austerity as such not articulated as a primary reason – because the “Tories were for the rich”. And who would they vote for? “UKIP to get rid of the immigrants and create more jobs for our own kind”.

The point was made that that constituency doesn’t have high levels of immigration.

Some interesting stuff on those who haven’t seen much benefit from social or economic changes – the so-called ‘left-behinds’. They are much more nationalistic, more eurosceptic much more hostile to immigration… but ‘also they have come increasingly to the conclusion that no party can deliver substantial change to their circumstances’.

What’s fascinating is how by 2001 there was a flight from Labour, and not to the Tories but to non voting. And in 2010 when the Tories arrived back in power, they ‘appealed to these voters over social issues… immigration’ claiming they’d lower immigration and they didn’t and those voters abandoned the Tory. Which meant that when it came to Brexit there was a pool of voters who would go to near enough anyone else (but note they have no allegiance at all).

But one other aspect is ‘safe seats’ under FPTP where by parties ignore their ‘safe’ seats and ‘atrophy and decay’ occurs. In Scotland the SNP ‘walked in and knocked the thing down in one election’. And similarly with the Brexit referendum. Some analysts think this seem to show that left/right axis is replaced by a constitutional axis that in Scotland operates on the lines of ‘who understand Scottish values best’.

Where are these people going to go next? Much depends on whether there’s any pushback after Brexit.


1. gendjinn - October 11, 2016

The departure Con/Lab/Lib does not appear to constrained to any demographic although it is a little more pronounced some.


2. Peter James - October 14, 2016

“At 1900 general election 99% voted either Con Lib or Lab” ?
Strange that, as about 6% voted for the Irish Party and er, as yet there was no Labour Party.

You appear to be relying too much on a BBC analysis which depicts the typical UKIP voter as a disgruntled labour voter. ‘Tis true that Miliband gave in completely to the anti immigration pressure at the last election, but it was Tory fears of potential losses to UKIP which pressured Cameron into his concession of the IN/OUT referendum. And under May we see the complete UKIPisation of the Tories. Once the most reliable party of capitalism the Tories facilitated Brexit, which about 80% of business was against.


WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2016

Fair point re 1900, though I’m quoting directly from the programme. I presumed he meant that the Lib/Tory and later Labour hegemony remained intact through much of the century, but he would have been better to use a start date where Labour existed! That said non-English parties have been a feature of the HoC across a good part of the 20c.

And again, I’m paraphrasing the programme later on. But I do think there’s a compelling case that one or two time LP voters who came into the fold in 1997 and stayed in 2001 could have shed away subsequently. They wouldn’t in my view be traditional LP voters most of who stayed with the party (as the referendum underscores). And in that respect it’s not a simple LP -> UKIP dynamic – though again the programme does find a fair number of LP -> UKIP voters in its vox pops. But all that said some LP voters and many more Tory voters did vote for Brexit in the referendum, so that dynamic does exist.

Agree entirely re the UKIPisation of the Tories and your last point.


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