The end of class based politics? Watch

Arran90
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#21
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#21
(Original post by ByEeek)
I think the divide is still there but Labour are not representing the traditional electorate any more. In Scotland Labour have been replaced by the SNP.
There isn't really a party analogous to the SNP in England. The English Democrats are technically their equivalent in terms of separatism but very few people vote for them and they hardly even appear on the political radar. Change UK was a recent attempt to create a centrist middle of the road party but it completely failed to catch on with the electorate.

Could this imply that although there are similar disparities in wealth, power, and influence in both Scotland and England, the concept of social class is less pronounced in Scotland than it is in England? It has been argued that Scotland has more in the way of classless culture and identity than England has although it may be superficial and Scotland is far from being a culturally homogenous nation even by geography.
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DSilva
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#22
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(Original post by Arran90)
The blue collar working class of old that formed the bedrock of the Labour support base is a fraction of its former size but what has emerged since the 1980s is a new working class in low skilled low paid positions in the service sector like restaurant and fast food workers, retail, call centre workers, delivery drivers, Amazon warehouse staff, people on zero hour contracts and agency temps. Labour did have some difficulty attracting this new working class in the service sector back in the 1980s and early 1990s, but after the 1997 general election it was well within the prime voting demographic for Labour and those who didn't vote Labour tended to shun the Conservatives.

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour may not resonate well with the blue collar working class of old in the north and the West Midlands but how well does it connect with the new working class in the service sector?
In 1997 everyone voted Labour!

The truth is that Labour was formed out of the unions, heavy industry and cooperative societies. Following Thatcher, and globalisation, those sectors don't really exist anymore.

I think Labour should aim to represent all people, working class and middle class.
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Arran90
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(Original post by DSilva)
In 1997 everyone voted Labour!
Only 43.2% of the voters! A thumping great majority on less than half of the vote.

The truth is that Labour was formed out of the unions, heavy industry and cooperative societies. Following Thatcher, and globalisation, those sectors don't really exist anymore.
That's true but it's left in its wake a huge new working class in the service sector along with zero hours contracts and casualised employment. How effective has Labour been at adapting to support these sectors of society?

It's notable that the trade unions have not been effective at providing support for the new working class in the service sector but instead prefer to stay in their comfort zones of public sector employees and other traditionally unionised sectors - like train drivers. This could have an impact on Labour itself resulting in them living in a bubble and failing to address the needs and requirements of the new working class in the service sector because it isn't represented through the trade unions.

I think Labour should aim to represent all people, working class and middle class.
That's easier said than done. Everything to everybody can easily end up as nothing to nobody. The SNP has cracked it at becoming a classless big tent party but they have a strong central plank - an independent Scotland - and are supported by the 45% who voted for independence in the referendum. To a lesser extent UKIP and The Brexit Party succeeded in a similar way because of their strong central plank of leaving the EU. Even the Lib-Dems re-invented themselves following the smash up in 2015 by adopting a strong central plank of cancelling Brexit and their votes have risen as a result. Labour unfortunately lacks a strong central plank as they are traditionally built on a bedrock of class based rather than theme based politics.
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Burton Bridge
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(Original post by Arran90)
There isn't really a party analogous to the SNP in England. The English Democrats are technically their equivalent in terms of separatism but very few people vote for them and they hardly even appear on the political radar. Change UK was a recent attempt to create a centrist middle of the road party but it completely failed to catch on with the electorate.

Could this imply that although there are similar disparities in wealth, power, and influence in both Scotland and England, the concept of social class is less pronounced in Scotland than it is in England? It has been argued that Scotland has more in the way of classless culture and identity than England has although it may be superficial and Scotland is far from being a culturally homogenous nation even by geography.
Regards your point about change UK, I think this is a point that's being completely missed regarding the downfall of labour.

My opinion is that those in the centre or centre right or right wing are particularly and increasingly rarther desperate in their attemp too label the labour result as the fault of Socislism and left wing polices. These people claim that should we of had a more moderate leader, which is really code for a right wing pro EU neoliberal! However their call is is we had these more moderate polices we'd of walked in. This isnt true, that's what the list of EU neoliberal right wingers who defectexmd from Labour and the Tories thought, they believed the hysteria, hey "if there was a creditable centrist alternative we would wipe the floor with these extremes"... right o.
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Burton Bridge
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(Original post by DSilva)
In 1997 everyone voted Labour!

The truth is that Labour was formed out of the unions, heavy industry and cooperative societies. Following Thatcher, and globalisation, those sectors don't really exist anymore.

I think Labour should aim to represent all people, working class and middle class.
Labour was formed to provide reputsentation of those in society who was left behind, labour have lost support because they are not providing reputsentation of those in society who was left behind.
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Arran90
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#26
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(Original post by Burton Bridge)
Labour was formed to provide reputsentation of those in society who was left behind, labour have lost support because they are not providing reputsentation of those in society who was left behind.
Labour was founded as roughly the political wing of the trade union movement.

I make an intelligent guess that in England and Wales, but less so in Scotland, Labour still won the support of the vast majority of socioeconomic group E (the poor and the underclass) who could be bothered to vote. It's the working class in socioeconomic groups C2 and D who shunned Labour in large numbers this year whilst the comfortably well off progressive left and hipsters in higher socioeconomic groups who live in London and trendy towns enthusiastically voted Labour.
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anarchism101
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(Original post by Rakas21)
There is also a gender aspect. Unlike all other post war Tory wins the Tories won in 2010, 2015 and 2017 with only the male vote. In this election we won both but the margin was still only 6% amongst women vs 19% for men.

I do wonder whether feminism vs alt right attitudes comes into play here.
There is a gender gap, but only really amongst the young. Whilst women lean more Labour in every age group, and the young heavily skew Labour regardless of gender, young women are still much more likely to vote Labour and much less likely to vote Conservative than young men, while retired-age women are only marginally more likely to vote Labour than men.
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anarchism101
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Ultimately the big defining divide is now age and education, which are closely interlinked. Thankfully our political system isn't particularly zero-sum - Brexit in that regard is the exception, not the norm - which will make the inevitable eventual generational transition a decent bit smoother. US politics, despite being defined by a pretty similar divide, is much more zero-sum and so much more dangerous.
Last edited by anarchism101; 4 weeks ago
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Arran90
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(Original post by anarchism101)
There is a gender gap, but only really amongst the young. Whilst women lean more Labour in every age group, and the young heavily skew Labour regardless of gender, young women are still much more likely to vote Labour and much less likely to vote Conservative than young men, while retired-age women are only marginally more likely to vote Labour than men.
My mother told me that back in the 1970s and 1980s - possibly even in the 1992 general election - there was a gender gap and men were more likely to vote Labour than Conservative although the gap narrowed amongst the youngest voters under 25ish. Labour had a bit of a macho image associated with brawny blue collar and industrial workers whereas the Conservatives were seen as more genteel and for non-manual workers.
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Arran90
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(Original post by anarchism101)
Ultimately the big defining divide is now age and education.
It does seem a strange irony how the university educated gravitates towards a party where it's sums don't add up whereas those with a more basic education are more inclined to shun the magic money tree.

It's also a strange irony how a 20 something with a degree who works in Greggs because they can't find a graduate job votes Labour whereas their work colleague of the same age with just a few GCSEs to their name votes Conservative. Back in the 1990s the reverse would be more likely.

To an extent it appears that Labour and the Conservatives have swapped places.
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Arran90
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#31
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(Original post by generallee)
We used to be a society divided above all by class and age, and geographic and national difference with these islands and politics reflected it.

Not we are divided by everything. Class and age still, geographic difference less, but national more, ethnic origin, religion (of many creeds) or its lack, sexuality, support for the EU, or opposition, you name it, it divides us.

And politics doesn't reflect that. It hasn't caught up.
You make a very good point. Britain is very much a sliced and diced nation in terms of its demographics but it is not reflected in its politics. Do you think that the culprit is the FPTP election system that favours a two party system plus a third alternative that rarely wins any constituencies? The Euro Elections tends to produce a more balanced out result than the general elections.

Labour and the Conservatives are broad churches. Probably too broad for their own good which is why they are split by issues like Brexit or trying to appease two or more distinctive demographics with conflicting interests.

The media is also to blame to forcing politics into a now very artificial left right model or endless polarised debates between two extremes without considering a middle ground or a third or fourth alternative.
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bj27
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(Original post by Arran90)
Interesting thought. Is Britain moving away from politics of left and right towards the American system of liberal and conservative?
Liberal and Conservative are euphemisms for left and right anyway.
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Arran90
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(Original post by bj27)
Liberal and Conservative are euphemisms for left and right anyway.
Not really. British liberal is more social policy whereas American liberal is more economic policy - usually referred to as socialism or economic left in Britain. The 19th century British liberals were hardline economic capitalists. Conservative is a closer match between the two although the American definition does intertwine both economic and social policy as they have less in the way of a nationalist right (that is often centrist or even centre left on economic issues) than Britain and Europe have.
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bj27
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(Original post by Arran90)
Not really. British liberal is more social policy whereas American liberal is more economic policy - usually referred to as socialism or economic left in Britain. The 19th century British liberals were hardline economic capitalists. Conservative is a closer match between the two although the American definition does intertwine both economic and social policy as they have less in the way of a nationalist right (that is often centrist or even centre left on economic issues) than Britain and Europe have.
Nationalisation vs Privatisation of key industries and Brexit are more social policies which have massive economic effects that have been the driving factors in the last 3 elections. I guess the two can be conflating and with social media/tech (which is dominated by American values and news for the western world) you would have those kinda concepts trickling over to the UK.

I get the whole classical laissez-faire liberalism that birthed conservatism and modern day liberalism. I guess you can be left economically and socially right too and vice versa or both. I'm not sure what the modern day conservatives (e.g. Boris) would classify as, definitely right economically, but probably more socially left with his policies from his time in London and early as an MP.
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anarchism101
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(Original post by Arran90)
My mother told me that back in the 1970s and 1980s - possibly even in the 1992 general election - there was a gender gap and men were more likely to vote Labour than Conservative although the gap narrowed amongst the youngest voters under 25ish. Labour had a bit of a macho image associated with brawny blue collar and industrial workers whereas the Conservatives were seen as more genteel and for non-manual workers.
Sort of, women did tend to lean more Tory than men in the late 20th Century, but this was never really the case among young women. 18-24 women have been much more likely than men their age to vote Labour since 1987 at least.

The big shift seems to have come in the early 2000s. As late as Blair's 2001 victory, Labour's leads over the Tories among men and women by age cohort (apart from the youngest, who were very different) were about the same, with still a slightly better performance among men:
18-24: Lab +21 among women, compared to +9 among men
25-34: Lab +24 among women, compared to +28 among men
34-54: Lab +12 among women, compared to +14 among men
55+: Con +2 among women, compared the two being equal among men

In Blair's much more modest third victory in 2005, however, that sharply changed:
18-24: Lab +21 among women, compared to +1 among men
25-34: Lab +22 among women, compared to +4 among men
35-54: Lab +13 among women, compared to +5 among men
55+: Con +7 among women, and Con +7 among men as well

In other words, men of all age groups swung in various degrees towards the Tories between 2001 and 2005, but only older women also did. All other women largely remained the same - strongly pro-Labour.

That said, these gaps are all dwarfed by the kind of age gaps we're seeing now in the election just gone. We now have:
18-24: Lab +47 among women, compared to +37 among men
25-34: Lab +31 among women, compared to +17 among men
35-54: Con +1 among women, compared to Con +15 among men
55+: Con +38 among women, compared +37 among men

Or to put it starker - when broken down by age and gender, in 2001 the combined difference between the strongest Labour demographic and the strongest Tory demographic was 30 percentage points. In 2005 it was 29 points, about the same. In 2019, it's now 85 points.

If this trend continues, at some point in the next decade or two we're on course for a major tipping point. Hopefully Parliament is able to mediate it gradually, though in the US it's likely to be much more dramatic.
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DSilva
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(Original post by Arran90)
Only 43.2% of the voters! A thumping great majority on less than half of the vote.



That's true but it's left in its wake a huge new working class in the service sector along with zero hours contracts and casualised employment. How effective has Labour been at adapting to support these sectors of society?

It's notable that the trade unions have not been effective at providing support for the new working class in the service sector but instead prefer to stay in their comfort zones of public sector employees and other traditionally unionised sectors - like train drivers. This could have an impact on Labour itself resulting in them living in a bubble and failing to address the needs and requirements of the new working class in the service sector because it isn't represented through the trade unions.
I don't think Labour's traditional core voters were ever that left wing or socialist per se. It's just that they worked in heavily unionised industries and it was in their clear economic interest to vote Labour. Once those industries went, and the unions were stripped of their powers, the natural bond had been broken.

You're absolutely correct in that trade unions haven't been as successful in appealing to the working class in the services sectors. I would again suggest that a lot of that is down to the unions having their powers stripped, jobs becoming less secure and many private enterprises refusing to recognise or deal with unions.

Labour hasn't been able to reach these voters, correct. And many seem so disenfranchised by politics and their situation that they end up not voting at all. There doesn't seem to have been anything to replace the emasculation of unions and bring these workers together.

That's easier said than done. Everything to everybody can easily end up as nothing to nobody. The SNP has cracked it at becoming a classless big tent party but they have a strong central plank - an independent Scotland - and are supported by the 45% who voted for independence in the referendum. To a lesser extent UKIP and The Brexit Party succeeded in a similar way because of their strong central plank of leaving the EU. Even the Lib-Dems re-invented themselves following the smash up in 2015 by adopting a strong central plank of cancelling Brexit and their votes have risen as a result. Labour unfortunately lacks a strong central plank as they are traditionally built on a bedrock of class based rather than theme based politics.
It should be noted that almost 60% of 18-24 year old voters chose Labour. Labour also pretty much led every age group until you get to about 40. That is something that wasn't even the case under Blair and it is something to build upon.

Whether working class or middle class, you are more likely to vote for Labour if you are young.

Personally I think Labour needs to hone in on 3 or 4 core issues to unite people across the class spectrum. Mine would be childcare, social care, education and housing. Those issues affect everyone and aren't just middle class giveaways like free broadband etc.
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ChaoticButterfly
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I disagree, class politics is still here, it just looks different from the past and a new form of class antagonisms are emerging that look different from 20th century ones based around industrial workers. The divide between anyone of working age and retired is extreme and their has been nothing like it before. What looks like young vs old is actually a class cohort effect. This is summed up well by this sociologist

"The working class our "blue collar Tories" and their Blue Labour analogues get into a lather about is the working class of the past. The contemporary working class, the socialised worker is disproportionately young, more likely to be disengaged from official politics, but also largely spontaneously anti-Tory thanks to how the Tories are barriers to getting on and have vested interests in keeping this state of affairs so their voter coalition can hold together.

Why the old and the retired then. Why are they prepared to return governments who actively make life tougher for their children and grand children. Well, obviously, they don't see it like that. At its most conscious it's going to be articulated as tough love but ultimately, as a group of voters and a segment within the wider class structure there are certain structural characteristics conditioning their choices. The first is property. After a life time of work under a more benign economic and political settlement than now, they are more likely to own a home and have a decent pension. A decent number hold small quantities of shares. As modest as this property ownership is, you want to keep hold of it. And so suggestions Labour are going to tax the rich is code for 'they want to nationalise my bungalow'. Property, therefore, is something to be jealously guarded."
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ChaoticButterfly
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(Original post by Arran90)
It does seem a strange irony how the university educated gravitates towards a party where it's sums don't add up whereas those with a more basic education are more inclined to shun the magic money tree.

It's also a strange irony how a 20 something with a degree who works in Greggs because they can't find a graduate job votes Labour whereas their work colleague of the same age with just a few GCSEs to their name votes Conservative. Back in the 1990s the reverse would be more likely.
Their manifesto was costed and the "magic money tree" is crap economics so i don't know what you are implying here. That poeple with degrees are less prone to beleiving propoganda peddled by right wing media?

It is not ironic that a 20 something who works in Greggs and rents voted for a left wing party. That is what the 21st century working class looks like and it would be weird if these poeple were not more prone to vote Labour over Tory. What do expect them to do? Vote for the party of property when they have none? When the Brexit patriotism means little to them? For that kind of person you either don't vote or vote Labour. Next to zero reason to vote Tory.
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Arran90
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(Original post by ChaoticButterfly)
It is not ironic that a 20 something who works in Greggs and rents voted for a left wing party. That is what the 21st century working class looks like and it would be weird if these poeple were not more prone to vote Labour over Tory. What do expect them to do? Vote for the party of property when they have none? When the Brexit patriotism means little to them? For that kind of person you either don't vote or vote Labour. Next to zero reason to vote Tory.
I didn't say anything about property ownership amongst the two Greggs employees!

The irony is about aspiration. The employee with just a few GCSEs to their name probably has lower aspirations than the person with a degree does. They accept their (academic) limitations and know that they are probably only suitable material for a basic simple job for the rest of their working life, whereas the employee with a degree thinks that they can potentially find a graduate job or a job that is better paid than working in Greggs in the future. Labour traditionally enjoyed the support from people with low aspirations whereas people with higher aspirations tended to gravitate towards the Conservatives.
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Arran90
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(Original post by DSilva)
I don't think Labour's traditional core voters were ever that left wing or socialist per se. It's just that they worked in heavily unionised industries and it was in their clear economic interest to vote Labour. Once those industries went, and the unions were stripped of their powers, the natural bond had been broken.
I would say that most were at least centre left in terms of economic policy but also socially conservative who had no interest whatsover in socially liberal or progressive social policies.

You're absolutely correct in that trade unions haven't been as successful in appealing to the working class in the services sectors. I would again suggest that a lot of that is down to the unions having their powers stripped, jobs becoming less secure and many private enterprises refusing to recognise or deal with unions.
Part of the problem is the way in which trade unions organised around specific occupations or industries. The result is that many sectors ended up being badly represented by trade unions. One such example are software developers or IT workers.

Labour hasn't been able to reach these voters, correct. And many seem so disenfranchised by politics and their situation that they end up not voting at all. There doesn't seem to have been anything to replace the emasculation of unions and bring these workers together.
You are right that a sizeable fraction of the new working class in the service sector are disenfranchised by politics and do not vote. Again, I state that I believe that the trade unions have not moved forwards and also Labour has failed to look at why so few people in the private sector are members of trade unions. IMO in the years between Blair and Corbyn Labour relied excessively on the public sector vote.
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