.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Losing the heartland vote

As the member of a party that is struggling to establish a core vote at all, I found this analysis by the Fabian Society on what is happening to Labour support amongst its traditional voters to be a useful distraction.

According to the Guardian Labour is struggling to attract the working-class voters who traditionally formed the core of its support. They say that a report for the Fabian Society by the political analyst Lewis Baston shows that Labour performed well in what he calls “the most modern bits of England” and badly in its heartlands:

Turnout in local elections tends to be much lower than at general elections, and they are often fought on purely local issues, but regional patterns can help give pointers as to a party’s appeal for different groups of voters.

Labour lost a net 18 council seats once all the votes were counted and drew ahead of the Conservatives on the projected national share of the vote by 1 percentage point – a better result than many experts predicted.

Baston finds that despite the deep divide within the parliamentary Labour party between the leftwing leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and centrist “Blairite” MPs, the party’s best showing was in areas where New Labour succeeded.

“The best Labour results were in some of the most modern bits of England, in London and its hinterland. Swindon, Milton Keynes, Reading and Crawley, and the leafy London suburbs, are what used to be regarded as classic New Labour territory, but now seem oddly fond of new old Labour,” he said. “A more traditional socialist appeal seems to go over better with these voters than with the traditional working class.”

By contrast, voters switched to the Conservatives in areas where Labour needs to win seats to secure a majority in 2020, such as Nuneaton and Cannock Chase, compared with the 2012 local elections.

“Weakness in crucial types of constituencies in 2016, such as unpretentious Midlands towns (Nuneaton, Cannock) and big city suburbs (Bury, Bolton) is ominous, while stronger showings were in affluent seats that are either already Labour or require large swings to be sustained through to May 2020,” Baston said.

Comparing the results in marginal constituencies with the 2015 general election, Labour saw its share of the vote improve by 3.3% in the south, and 2.2% in the Midlands, but in the north, it declined by 1.8%.

There does not appear to be any reference to whether this under-performance was down to UKIP taking traditional working class votes off Labour or not, though I suspect that was a factor. Most worrying for Corbyn though is the conclusion that the report's author draws from the results:

“Labour’s performance in 2016 was squarely in line with what one might expect a year into a parliament where the opposition is not going to win the general election,” he said.

Andrew Harrop, the Fabian Society general secretary, said: “The results may not have been a disaster for Labour, but there is no sign that Jeremy Corbyn will do any better than Ed Miliband in winning the sorts of seats which Labour needs to govern.

It may well be too early to tell. A Liberal Democrats revival, in which they take back some of the votes they lost to the Tories though, would make it more likely that the Labour Party perform better in 2020 than they did in 2015.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?