Was just wondering if anyone could give feedback on this past paper question I did from 2021. Thank you!
1a) Using Source 1, evaluate the view that a person’s age and the media have now replaced social class and region as clear indicators of voting behaviour. (30)
There are a number of factors that political analysts believe impact an individual’s voting decisions; namely the newspaper they read, their social class, their age, and the region in which they live. It could be argued that over time social class and region have begun to have less of an influence on the electorate’s voting behaviour due to an increase in media use and a clear association between political parties and certain age groups. However, there is a stronger case for social class and region being stronger indicators due to safe seats and the connections between particular parties and working sectors.
It could be argued that media has replaced social class as an indicator of voting behaviour because of the relationship between newspaper readership and voting patterns, with the source stating that “YouGov found that newspaper readership was a strong predictor of voting patterns''. This is supported by statistics showing that 79% of Telegraph readers and 77% of Daily Express readers voted Conservative in the 2017 general election. In contrast, 73% of Guardian and 66% of Independent readers voted Labour. Thus, it is evident that a voter’s choice of newspaper can be used as an indicator of their voting intentions. However, there are weaknesses to this view. The 2017 general election showed signs of the media’s impact declining; Corbyn was largely ridiculed by mass-circulating newspapers but Labour’s share of the vote still increased by 9.6%. A stronger view presented in the source is that social class clearly plays a more important role because “The Conservatives led Labour by 11 points among people working in the private sector, while Labour was 10 points ahead of the Conservatives among public sector workers”. An individual’s career will tie in strongly with their social class. Historically, Labour has been the party of working class voters and has consequently fostered strong ties with such classes, while the Conservatives have been seen as a party appealing to white-collar professionals. Consequently, we may conclude that social class is a stronger predictor of voting behaviour than the media a voter consumes.
Additionally, there is the view that age has replaced social class and region as a determinant of voting behaviour because of clear trends in a voter’s age and their party of choice. The source claims that “Age has also become a significant element, as recent governments have treated older people more favourably than the young”. When considering salient issues, such as Brexit, age also appears to be a factor; 60% of voters aged 65 or older voted ‘Leave’ in the 2016 EU referendum in comparison to the 73% of 18-24 year old voters who voted ‘Remain’. Such issues can be linked to political party choice, with the Conservatives being perceived as the pro-Brexit party and thus gaining support from older voters. However, there are weaknesses to this view. The impact that salient issues have on an individual may be determined by the social class or region they find themselves in; for example, voters living in areas with secure jobs may not feel affected by unemployment issues. A stronger argument proposed by the source is that “A person’s social class has considerable influence over how they will vote, as does the region in which a person lives”. The existence of heartlands and safe seats in particular regions - such as the ‘red wall’ that Labour has historically won in Northern England and the Midlands - indicate how a person’s region can be a strong predictor of their voting behaviour. Region may also be linked to economic class; a particular level of income may place individuals in certain regions.Thus, it is evident that region is a stronger predictor of voting behaviour than age.
Furthermore, the source presents the view that there is a strong trend between the increase in a voter’s age and the political party they support. There is the argument that “For every 10 years older a person is, the likelihood they would vote Conservative increases by 9 points”. The graph shows that 50% of 30 year olds voted Labour, with just under 20% voting Conservative. However, after a 10 year increase, it is shown that 40% of 40 year olds vote Labour, with almost 30% voting Conservative. Nonetheless, there are weaknesses to this argument because voter turnout by age is also significant. In the 2019 general election, turnout for 60-69 and 70+ age groups were 77% and 84%, respectively. In contrast, turnout was 57% for 18-19 year olds and 59% for 20-24 year olds. Thus, statistics about voting behaviour by age are not truly representative. A stronger view presented by the source is that “Labour is no longer as dominant in Scotland as the Conservatives are in Southern England outside London”. The 2021 Scottish Parliament election saw the SNP win around 48% of the vote while Labour won approximately 22%, a decrease from the previous election. This apparent growth in popularity for the SNP in Scotland demonstrates how a voter’s region can contribute to their voting behaviour - voters wish to support a party that will meet local needs. Thus, it is reasonable to argue that the region of voters is a strong indicator of their voting behaviour.
Overall, the view that age and media have replaced region and social class as indicators of voting behaviour is largely weak. There have been some trends in voting age and party support, as well as links between news media consumption and voting distribution; however, when we consider voter turnout by age it appears that certain age groups are underrepresented. Furthermore, geographical region has shown to have a major contribution to voting behaviours, demonstrated by certain parties dominating in particular areas for years on end.