Voting in British general elections no longer revolves around class. Discuss.

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  Edward Hamer 13G                                                                                                                       --

5th October 2002

Voting in British general elections no longer revolves around class. Discuss.

Up until the mid-1970s, people thought of themselves as either working or middle class and so they voted according to their class. This is the traditional voting theory. The working class voted Labour while the middle class voted Conservative. Later on, however, due to the influence of television, people gained more knowledge of politics and so they made more informed choices on how to vote and who to vote for and were less likely to be loyal to the party of their class. I think that voting in British general elections does not revolve around class anymore and there are many factors that determine how people vote in general elections today. For instance, people today have more knowledge about the different parties they can vote for and so they can make informed decisions and not just vote depending on their class. Gender, age and social mobility can also determine which political parties people vote for.

One piece of research that disagrees that voting no longer revolves around class is Jean Blondel’s “Voters, parties and leaders”, which is a study on the traditional voting theory. This study states that most voters have made their minds up on who they want to vote for long before the election is even called and that the actual campaign has relatively little success in getting them to change their minds. It also says that specific ‘issues’ play only a small part in deciding elections and what really matters is the generalised image, or overall impression, that a party makes in a voter’s mind. A famous example is the 1955 survey of Bristol voters which showed that 68% of Labour supporters saw their party as being “for the working class”, while 85% saw the Conservative party as being “for the rich, big business”.

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Heath, Jowell and Curtice did a study on how Britain votes in 1985, which also suggests that class still matters. They divided people up into five groups; from group 1, managers and professionals, to group 5, manual workers. They discovered that Labour support was only present in group 5 and Conservative support fell as the list descends, which proves that class does still matter in general elections.

In 1992, Labour’s tax proposals would have meant an increase in tax for many people. At the last minute, people wondered if they could afford it. Neil Kinnock was not seen ...

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