Lednum

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Assess the importance ofsocial class to voting behaviour in the U.K

Posted by lednum on December 28, 2006

Social class plays a significant importance in voting behaviour.  However, other factors are showing an ever increasing importance today, such as, class dealignment, party policies, ethnicity and region issues.  This essay will asses the importance of these factors.

Social class has dominated explanations for voting behaviour in the U.K.  For example, in 1992, 56% of the social class AB voted for the Conservatives whereas only 20% voted for Labour.  Ultimately, this maintains the view that social class can determine voting behaviour.  Moreover, this was further demonstrated when 50% of the DE social class voted for Labour whereas only 41% voted for the Conservatives.  This evidence suggests that there is still a relationship between social class and voting behaviour

However,class dealignment, a weakening relationship between social class and party support, has been evident for some years now.  The evidence supporting the class dealignment thesis may be seen in the fall of the majority voting for their natural class.  For instance, the percentage not voting for their natural class increased from 44% in 1987 to 64% in 1996.  Moreover, in 1997, 61% of the DE social class voted for Labour whereas in 2001 it had decreased to 50%, therefore demonstrating that class dealignment shows a weakening relationship between social class and party support.

On the other hand, other influences have been at work in recent years.  The influence of political issues over the last 15 years has clearly grown.  For example, in 1992 the Conservatives were seen to be the strongest party due to their involvement in defence, taxation, prices and inflation issues, ultimately this shows why they won the election.  However, it is evident that in 1997 Labour maintained the highest success rate because their policies were based on the NHS, unemployment, education, taxation and relations with Europe which resulted in Labour gaining power.  Therefore, the evidence suggest that there is a significant link between party policies and voting behaviour.

Ethnicity is a limited factor in voting behaviour.  This is largel because ethnic minorities account for only 5% of votes.  However, even among the U.K’s relatively small number of Blacks and Asians, there is an emerging pattern.  This was demonstrated in 1997 election where 70% of Asians and a further 86% of Blacks voted for Labour opposed to the 25% of Asians and 85% of Blacks who voted for the Conseratives.  A reason for this could be that the majority of ethnic minorities are in low paid jobs which conveys the reasons why their needs would suit Labour’s political policies.  Ultimately, the figures put forward above show a connection between ethnicity and voting behaviour.

Region also appears to be a factor in voting behaviour, here a North-South divide is in evidence.  The possible link between region and voting behaviour is that, as the North is generally poorer then they are likely to cast their vote for Labour.  Furthermore, conditions in the South maintain lower un-employment and a higher proportion of supervisory and skilled jobs, therefore resulting in the majority voting for the Conservatives.  This demonstrates, that yes, must play an important part in voting behaviour.

Taken overall, the evidence above suggests that social class is still influential to voting behaviour, for instance, in 1992, 50% of the AB social class voted for the Conservatives, whereas 50% of the DE social class voted for Labour.  Therefore this shows that voting behaviour can be influenced by the existence of social classes.  However, it is evident that party policies have affected voting behaviour.  For example, in 1992 the Conservative party gained power due to their involvement in defence, taxation and prices/inflation, therefore displaying that party policies are becoming influential.

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