To what extent does social class influence voting behaviour?
It is often said that social class is the key determinant in voting behaviour. When the next Government elections come up is it true that the middle and upper classes will vote for the Conservative Party and the working class vote for the Labour Party? Or is voter behaviour more complex than that? This essay explores how the impact of social class on voting behaviour has changed over the years.
Social class was the main determinant of voting behaviour back in the 1960s because in the 1960s Britain was a country in which social class was much more apparent and easy to define. Broadly speaking, people were ‘categorised’ as the ...view middle of the document...
This was when the line between socially mobile working classes and the existing middle classes was blurred. This led to class de-alignment and the breakdown of the long-term association of a social class with support for a particular party.
An example of this was when the Conservative Party reached out to the aspirations of people in the lower classes to win elections in the 70s and 80s. Margaret Thatcher, who was the leader of the Conservative Party, played a major role in attracting working class support. At the start of the 20th Century the working classes would vote for the Conservative Party because they promoted individual aspiration and many wanted to be associated with that idea. Margaret Thatcher brought that back when she was leader of the Conservative Party and that is one of the reasons why she stayed in power for so long. Those in the working class that voted for the Conservative Party became known as the “Working Class Tories.”
Although today social class is not seen as the main determinant of voting behaviour, it is still evident in election results. An example of this was in the 2005 General Election when 73% of those people in class A/B and class C1 voted for the Conservative Party whereas 88% of people in class C2 and class D/E voted for the Labour Party. Whilst this showed that social class certainly still influenced voting behaviour, the 2005 General Election was plagued by scandals such as the Iraq War. Therefore, saying that social class alone determined voting behaviour is wrong because there were other factors in the 2005 General Election that played a significant role making it hard to judge whether or not social class was as involved as it would have been pre 1970’s.
There are other factors apart from social class that can determine voting behaviour; one of them is age. Stereotypically many older people would vote for the Conservative Party because they favoured the elderly by introducing policies that would make them feel safe, this is also known as the ‘grey vote’. Many young people often vote for the Liberal Democrats because they are seen as being the “modern party”. They reach out to those young voters and introduce policies that would favour them. An example of this is abolishing tuition fees, something they did not stand by when forming a government with the Conservatives. In the 2005 General Election many people aged between 34-44 years voted for the Labour Party because those people were more influenced by the help they received from the Labour Party such as worker protection and job creation.
Gender can also determine voting behaviour because traditionally men voted for the Labour Party and...