Study Notes

General Election 2017: Social Class and Partisanship

AQA, Edexcel

Last updated 30 Oct 2018

What were some of the key features of social class and partisanship of the General Election in June 2017?

Since Peter Pulzer said, in 1967, “class is the basis of British politics. All else is embellishment and detail” the statement has become ever less accurate.

However, 2017 is perhaps the first election where it is possible to argue that there is almost no evidence of class-based voting at all.

According to a thorough YouGov post-election poll , the Conservatives were ahead of Labour among ABs and C2s while Labour were ahead of the Conservatives among C1s and DEs, but – compared with other elections – it is really close in every class category.

What’s more, while a Conservative lead among ABs and a Labour on among DEs fits class-based voting expectations (although larger leads would usually be expected) Labour leading among C1s and Conservatives leading among C2s is rather topsy turvy.

One explanation for the C2 figure is because of Brexit. C2 voters were likely to back Leave and while former UKIP voters voted both Conservative and Labour, those who prioritised Brexit tended to vote Conservative.

One other piece of data that might help explain the Labour lead among C1s is that the higher level people were educated to, the more likely they were to vote Labour. Labour got nearly 50% of the vote of people who were educated to degree level or higher, compared with 33% of the vote of those who had not got any qualifications above GCSE level (55% of whom voted Conservative).

In conclusion, class and voting in the 2017 election is fascinating, largely in the way that it doesn’t reflect traditional class-based voting and there aren’t very clear patterns at all.

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