Loading
 

Home Page

All Modules

Introducing Sociology

Families and Households

Education

Power and Politics

Differentiation and Stratification

Links

The Analysis of Voting Behaviour in Great Britain [Some of the data in this document refer to voting behaviour in the UK but  most of the analysis applies to Great Britain and I have given no consideration to voting behaviour in Northern Ireland]

Document last edited: 17/08/2014

Click here for very important new link added March 2013:   Ipsos Mori graphics on Gender, Age , Class, Region  and Voting Behaviour 2010-2012

Click here for very important link added May 2013: Guardian coverage of Peter Kellner's analysis of the current state of the opinion polls.

Click here for a very useful article from UK Polling Report on the interpretation of opinion polls

Click here and here for detailed recent [June 2013] analysis form Ipsos Mori of relationships between Age and Voting behaviour

Click here for recent data comparing  Social Class and Party Identification in 1984 and 2012 from the British Social Attitudes Survey Link added March 2014

New Document June 2012: Aspects of British Politics 2010 Onwards. This document will be updated weekly with  new links  which hopefully will help to students to keep up to date with current developments in British Politics

Part A: Electoral Stability, Party Identification and Social Class Voting: 1945-1970

Page last edited::17/08/2014

Click here for Guardian coverage of the General Elections of 1945, 1951, 1964,1966, 1970, 1974 [2] , 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1997 and 2001 New link added February 2013

Click here for a new assignment on patterns of social class voting between 1992 and 2010.

 Click here for Document Four: The UK General Election of 2010  

New Links added June 2012

Click here, here , here and here for IPSOS MORI data on  long term and  the most recent trends in voting intention. The recent trend data are of course regularly updated

Click here  and then follow the relevant links for YouGov data on long term and the most recent trends in voting intention: The recent trend data are of course regularly updated

Click here for a very useful article on Omnishambles and Opinion Poll Ratings [by Gideon Skinner: Head of Politics at Ipsos Mori]

 

New links added September2012-April 2013: Non-Class Influences on Voting Behaviour

 New information on non-class influences on voting behaviour in the 2010 General Election was  added to Part B of this document in January 2012 and readers may also consult the links below for the most recent information. These links appear also as appropriate in Part B of this document.

Very useful data on Religion and Voting Behaviour in 2005 and 2010  can be found in the Ethnic Minority British Election Survey {EMBES} as reported on the British Religion in Numbers {BRIN} website.

Click here for a recent BBC Audio Report [about 9 minutes] on Ethnicity and Voting Behaviour [from The Westminster Hour]

Click here for further recent survey data on ethnicity and voting behaviour in 2005 and 2010 . [Data from the Ethnic Minority British Election Survey {EMBES} as reported on the British Religion in Numbers {BRIN} website.].

Click here and here and follow the additional links for further detailed information from the EMBES survey. New links added April 2013

Click here for a recent [December 2012]  Independent article reporting Conservative concerns at their current unpopularity among ethnic minority voters 

Click here for a BBC item on The Conservatives and Ethnic Minority Voters NEW link added February 2013 

Click here for Guardian article on Gender and Voting NEW link added February 2013

Click here for a different view from Peter Kellner of You Gov on Gender and Voting Behaviour NEW link added February 20th 2013

Click here for very important new link added March 2013:   Ipsos Mori graphics on Gender, Age , Class , Region and Voting Behaviour 2010-2012

Click here and here for detailed recent [June 2013] analysis form Ipsos Mori of relationships between Age and Voting behaviour

Click here for recent report from Democratic Audit on Young People and Voting New Link added March 2014

 

My Voting Behaviour documents have now been restructured, updated and revised. The original version of this document has been divided into two sections with some further revisions in January 2012 and  the original document on the 1970s to the 1990s has been divided into two sections and revised quite significantly in an effort to clarify the differences between the various models of voting behaviour developed from the 1970s to the 1990s. The third document on the General Elections of 1997, 2001 and 2005 will soon be extended modified to include comparative information on the 2010 General Election which will be extracted from my new fourth document on the 2010 General Election. Thus the new structure of voting behaviour documents is as  follows:

 

  • Document One : The Analysis of Voting Behaviour in Great Britain

  1. Part A: The Analysis of Voting Behaviour in Great Britain: Electoral Stability, Party Identification and Social Class 1945-1970

  2. Part B: Non-Class Influences on Voting Behaviour 1945-2010 [Some information on the 2010 General Election has been added in January 2012]

  1. Part A: Models of Voting Behaviour

  2. Part B: The General Elections of 1992 and 1997

 

The original PowerPoint Presentations will not be altered but I have added  links to  IPSOS MORI and BES PDF Slide Presentations on the 2010 General Election both of which are infinitely superior to anything that I could produce myself.

  1.  Click here for a PowerPoint on Document One

  2. Click here for a  PowerPoint on Models of Voting Behaviour

  3. Click here for a  PowerPoint on the Social Influences on Voting and Non-Voting

  4. Click here for a  PowerPoint on the General Elections of 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2005

  5. Click here for  IPSOS MORI Slide Presentation on the 2010 General Election .[EXCEPTIONAL]

  6. Click here for an equally EXCEPTIONAL Slide Presentation on the 2010 General Election from the BES Team. 

  7. Click here for yet another EXCEPTIONAL Presentation on the 2010 General Election from Dr. Justin Greaves of Warwick University

  8. Click here for 2010 General Election Links Page

  9. Click here for YouTube: 60 Interesting Video Clips!

 

 

 

Document One :Learning Objectives

  • Recognition of the UK context of voting behaviour  1945-1970.
  • Understanding of  the core elements of the Party Identification Model of Voting Behaviour..
  • Appreciation of some of the detailed findings of  Butler and Stokes' "Political Change in Britain".
  • Detailed understanding of relationships between voting behaviour and social class 1945-1970.
  • Deviant Voters: Middle Class Labour Voters and Working Class Conservative Voters
  • Recognition that voting behaviour is correlated also with the following social variables:
  • Age.
  • Gender
  • Region
  • Religion
  • Ethnicity
  • Recognition of relationships between these variables and social class

Document Assignment [Click below for links to the relevant sections of the notes]

1. Why has the period between 1945-1970 in the UK been described as a period of relative electoral stability?

2.Explain the nature of the party identification model of voting behaviour. You should use the following phrases:  objective and subjective social class,, partisan self-image or party identification, political issues and party policies, party images, social class differences in political socialisation.

3.How has social class traditionally been measured in studies of voting behaviour?

4.How were the usual relationships between social class and voting behaviour explained in the party identification model?

5.What was deviant voting? How would you explain middle class support for the Labour Party? What early explanations were given for working class support for the Conservative Party?

6 Voting behaviour has traditionally been linked with social class, age, gender, ethnicity, region and religion. What was P.G.J.. Pulzer's view about the relative significance of the above mentioned factors influencing voting behaviour?

7.Briefly explain how any three  of these non- class  variables affect voting behaviour .

 

 

 

wpe1.jpg (71286 bytes)

 

  1. Click here for BBC coverage of General Elections 1945-1997

  2. Click here for the BBC's coverage of the 2001 General Election Results 

  3.  Click here for the BBC's coverage of the 2005 General Election Results

  4. Click here for IPSOS MORI General Election Data 1974-2005

  5. . Click here for IPSOS MORI 2005 General Election Data

 

The analysis of voting behaviour is known also as "psephology" deriving from the Greek "psephos" [a pebble] with which the ancient Athenians indicated their voting decisions. Psephologists in the UK distinguish between the period  of 1945-1970 which they characterise as the era of electoral stability, two party dominance, party identification and class alignment  and the period from 1970 to the present day which is described as the era of declining party identification/partisan dealignment and class dealignment although there are also important arguments as to whether the general elections of 1997 and 2001 ushered in a realignment of UK voting behaviour.

In this document I shall focus especially on the ways in which the party identification model of voting behaviour was used in Butler and Stokes' "Political Change in Britain" [1969: second edition 1974] to explain relationships between social class and voting behaviour between 1945 and 1970.Working class voters and middle class voters were shown to vote mainly for the Labour and Conservative parties respectively although there were also significant percentages of deviant voters who did not vote predictably according to their social class. My discussion of "Political Change in Britain" may strike beginning students as a bit "long winded" but I do believe that an early appreciation of the significance of this model will pay dividends later when students begin to study the subsequent processes of partisan dealignment and class dealignment.

In the period 1945-1970 there were also observable correlations between voting behaviour and age, gender, region, religion and ethnicity. I discuss briefly the reasons for these correlations and also reproduce IPSOS MORI data on these correlations for the General Elections Oct 1974-2005 in the hope that students will find it useful to have this data "all in one place".

Let us begin with a broad consideration of the period of 1945-1970 which has been described as a period of relative electoral stability dominated by the two major political parties: the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. Thus between 1945-1970 the Conservative and Labour Parties regularly gained approximately 90% of the votes cast in general elections which under the conditions of the "first past the post" electoral system translated into approximately 98% of the parliamentary seats while the Ulster Unionist Party [UUP] gained a further 10-12 seats and could be relied upon to regularly support the Conservative Party in parliament. Neither the Liberal Party nor the Nationalist parties offered any real challenge to this 2 Party dominance. Further aspects of electoral stability were that opinion poll fluctuations and by election swings were relatively narrow and surveys indicated that relatively few voters switched their party allegiance between general elections although more switched between voting and non- voting. The relative stability of opinion polls suggested that most voters were  influenced far less by short term political issues than by long term social structural factors to be discussed below and variations in general election results could be said to be determined by the relatively small percentages of so-called floating voters who did switch party allegiance between general elections.

Psephologists at the time demonstrated that voting behaviour was clearly correlated with a range of social variables including social class, age, gender, region, religion and "race" or ethnicity and that social class was the most significant influence on voting behaviour which enabled P.G.J. Pulzer to write in Political Representation and Election (1967) that "Class is the basis of British party policies: all else is embellishment and detail",  a conclusion which was endorsed fully by David Butler and Donald Stokes in their famous study "Political Change in Britain [1969: second edition 1974].

These patterns of voting behaviour and in particular the relationships between social class and voting behaviour were explained in terms of the so-called Party Identification Model of voting behaviour which originated in the electoral research conducted in the 1940s and 1950s at the University of Michigan and was refined further in Butler and Stokes' Political Change in Britain. This is a long detailed and complex study and I can aim here only to outline the core elements of its model of party identification and in particular its analysis of relationships between voting behaviour and social class.

These main elements can be stated as follows.

The following first three tables have been slightly adapted from Political Change in Britain .

Table 1

Class-self-image by occupational head of household 1963 [=Objective social class position]
Self-assigned social class position [= subjective social class position] Higher Managerial [1] Lower Managerial[ 2] Supervisory non-manual [3] Lower non -manual [4] Skilled manual [5] Unskilled manual [6] Residual, on pension or other

state benefits [7] [omitted]

Middle Class 78% 65% 60% 32% 17% 9%  
Working Class 22% 35% 40% 68% 83% 91%  

Table 2

Objective Social Class Position as measured by modified I.O.M. scale 1963
Party Identification Higher managerial[1] Lower managerial [2] Supervisory non -manual[3] Lower non-manual[4] Skilled manual [5] Unskilled manual [6] Residual[7]
Conservative 86 81 77 61 29 25  
Labour 14 19 23 9 71 75  

 

Table 3

Party support by class self-image
  Middle Class self image Working class self image
Partisan self-image [i.e. party identification] = Conservative 79 29
Partisan self-image [i.e. party identification]  =Labour 21 72

 

 

Voting Behaviour and Social Class in Selected General Elections [Great Britain]

  1951   1964   1966   1983  
  non-manual manual non-manual manual non-manual manual non-manual manual
Con 75 34 62 28 60 25 55 35
Lib 3 3 16 8 14 6 28 22
Lab 22 63 22 64 26 69 17 42

 

 

But why did so many voters vote in accordance with their social class position between 1945-1970?

 

 

Given their relatively large numbers if all  working class voters had voted Labour between 1945 and 1970 Labour would have won every single general election. However a substantial minority of working class voters voted Tory, and also a smaller, but still substantial minority of middle class  voters voted Labour, even at the high point of class voting in the General Elections of 1950 and 1951. These cross-class voters, given their relatively small numbers, were  described as "deviant" voters. Why did they vote "deviantly"?

Working Class Conservative Voters : An Introduction

Early explanations (for example that of Bagehot) of working class Conservatism had stressed the importance of deference, and in their study "Angels in Marble", Mackenzie and Silver claimed that in the early60's approximately 50% of working class support for the Conservative Party could indeed  explained in terms of deference, with such voters to be found mainly in agricultural areas and small towns, working in small scale industries with relatively close paternalistic relationships with  their employers, having limited opportunities for the development of working class consciousness, and perceiving the inequalities of the social  order as essentially just and meritocratic. Another grouping of secular working class  Conservatives was also noted; these voters were mainly young, male, relatively well-paid, voiced  limited support for the Trade Union movement, the Welfare State and nationalisation and  essentially supported the principles of private enterprise. They were more pragmatic in their voting behaviour than the deferentials and more likely than the deferentials to switch their support away from the Tories.

As a response to Labour's three successive defeats in the General Elections of 1951, 1955, and 1959 it was widely argued that this may have been due to changes in the nature of the working class with rising working class  affluence leading to an increased likelihood of secular working class Conservative voting. However this line of argument was undermined by the Goldthorpe-Lockwood critique of  the Embourgeoisement theory (The Affluent Worker in the Class Structure.1969) which found  affluent manual workers had been more  likely than the working class as a whole to support Labour in the General election of 1959 .Nevertheless  the support of these affluent workers for the Labour Party was shown to be very fickle, and potentially  volatile suggesting that more and more working class voters might  desert the Labour Party in the future.

The analysis of working class conservatism can be extended in the following document when we consider the more recent  trends in voting behaviour and the new theories of voting behaviour which were developed in response to these trends.

Middle Class Labour voters: An Introduction

Possible factors encouraging middle class voters to vote Labour include the following:

 Many current members of the middle class may have grown up in the working class The Goldthorpe Social Mobility study entitled Social Mobility and Class Structure [1987 ]t demonstrated that rates of absolute  upward social  mobility were considerable such that many current members of the middle class come from a working class background where the powerful process of political socialisation may cause them to continue to identify with and to vote for the Labour Party.

They may have been radicalised via academic study and/or by their work in the institutions of the welfare state, seeing the effects of social inequality at first hand, and believing the Labour party are most likely to defend the welfare state as suggested for example by Frank Parkin in his study of middleclass radicalism [1968] Notice that this suggests  that middle class voters working in state institutions are  more likely than middle class voters working in private enterprise, to vote Labour and as we shall see, in the following document  this is indeed the case to some extent.

Later models of voting behaviour give more emphasis to the effects of political issues and party policies on voting behaviour. Some middle class voters in the 1960s may have supported strongly Labour's liberal social reforms in areas such as divorce, abortion and gay rights or in some cases  Labour's unilateralist  nuclear disarmament policies proposed in the  General Elections of 1983 and1987.   

Again the analysis of middle class support for the Labour Party is  extended in subsequent documents when we consider the more recent  trends in voting behaviour and the new theories/models  of voting behaviour which were developed in response to these trends. Click here for Document Two which contains information on more recent theories/models and   trends in voting behaviour and click here for a PowerPoint on Models .of Voting Behaviour.

 Meanwhile in Part B of this document let us turn to the effects of Age, Gender, Ethnicity, Region and Religion on voting behaviour. 

End of Document One Part A; Electoral Stability, Party Identification and Social Class

 

 

[In Part B  I consider  the effects of other social influences on voting behaviour in the era of party identification [1945-1970] but for convenience I have also included information on the more recent effects of these social influences. This information has been extracted from the IPSOS MORI document  on Social Influences on Voting Behaviour October-1974-2010 , from various Parliamentary Research Briefs , and from  Ipsos Mori and BES research studies on ethnicity and voting behaviour. I also  provide a link to the most recent IPSOS MORI data on social influences on voting behaviour in the 2010 General Election]

Although we can agree with the already mentioned statement from P.G.J. Pulzer in Political Representation and Election (1967) that in relation to the period between 1945 and 1970  "Class is the basis of British party policies: all else is embellishment and detail", it is also necessary to investigate the effects of other social factors [ age, gender, region, religion and ethnicity] on voting behaviour in the period 1945-1970. In several cases we shall find important connections between these variables and the more significant variable social class variable and these interconnections provide further support for P.G.J. Pulzer's statement.

Electoral data from 1945 -1970 suggested that older voters were more likely than younger voters to vote Conservative and less likely than younger voters to vote Labour. This was often explained by the notion that as individuals grow older they become more set in their ways, more wedded to traditional values and attitudes and more likely to believe that Conservative governments are more likely to safeguard their financial and personal security which appear increasingly important in later life. However  Butler and Stokes [and other psephologists] explained the relationship between age and voting behaviour in terms of the different processes of political socialisation affecting successive generations. Thus people born in say 1900 would have grown up before a powerful Labour Party existed and might as a result have been socialised to vote Conservative or Liberal rather than Labour. By comparison people born in say 1930 would have been reaching adulthood at the time of the reforming Labour Governments of 1945-51 and may have experienced processes of political socialisation which encouraged them to vote Labour in the 1950s and 1960s when they were still relatively young. and there was also the possibility that even in old age  these voters might still be more likely to vote Labour than previous generations of older voters.

This line of thought leads on to further speculations. Would voters who grew to adulthood in the "swinging" radical 60s be especially likely to vote Labour when young and more likely than previous generations to continue to vote Labour even as they grew older?  How would growing up in the era of Thatcherism affect voting behaviour in the future and so on? Unfortunately it is difficult to answer such questions but at least the following IPSOS MORI data illustrate relationships between age and voting behaviour between Oct. 1974 and 2005. The data do indeed show that broadly speaking older voters are less likely to vote Labour and more likely to vote Conservative than younger voters although there is not an absolutely perfect correlation between age and voting behaviour. particularly in the 2001 General Election.

  Oct 1974 1979 1983 1987 1992 1997 2001 2005
18-24                
Conservative 24 42 42 37 35 27 27 28
Labour 42 41 33 39 38 49 41 38
Lib / Alliance / LD 27 12 23 22 19 16 24 26
Con lead -18 +1 +9 -2 -3 -22 -14 -10
25-34
Conservative 33 43 40 39 40 28 24 25
Labour 38 38 29 33 37 49 51 38
Lib / Alliance / LD 24 15 29 26 18 16 19 27
Con lead -5 +5 +11 +6 +3 -21 -27 -13
35-54
Conservative 34 46 44 45 43 30 30 27
Labour 42 35 27 29 34 45 43 41
Lib / Alliance / LD 20 16 27 24 19 19 20 23
Con lead -8 +11 +17 +16 +9 -15 -13 -14
55+
Conservative 42 47 47 46 46 36 39 40
Labour 40 38 27 31 34 40 38 34
Lib / Alliance / LD 14 13 24 21 17 17 17 20
Con lead +2 +9 +20 +15 +12 -4 +1 +7
 
  1. The 2010 data do illustrate that , broadly speaking, the likelihood of voting Conservative increased with age: 30% of voters aged 18- 24 voted Conservative compared with 44% of voters 65+.

  2. In the 2010 the likelihood of voting Labour varied only slightly with age but, interestingly, young people were considerably more likely to vote Liberal Democrat than voters aged 55+.

  3. The Liberal Democrat vote increased most among 18-24 year old voters and particularly among 18-24 year old women.

  4. The national swing from Labour to Conservative was %5 but considerably higher among 25-34 year olds [ 9.0%] and 35-44 year olds [8.5%]

  5. There were also very significant age differences in turnout in 2010.

  6. Click here for IPSOS MORI 2010 data{ for further information showing the combined effects of age and gender on voting behaviour.]

  7. Notice that since the 2010 General Election Labour has become much more popular than the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats with younger voters although this conclusion is based upon relatively small samples of young people.   

Click here, here , here  and here for IPSOS MORI data on  long term and  the most recent trends in voting intention. The 3rd and 4th links are to the most recently monthly Political Monitor and Issue Index respectively

Click here  and then follow the relevant links for YouGov data on long term and the most recent trends in voting intention:

Click here for a recent New Statesman article by Rowenna Davis "How young people can hurt the coalition"

Click here for a recent Guardian article by Matthew Goodwin "Far Right ideas: Britain's Generation Gap"

Click here for a recent New Statesman article by Andrew Adonis and Adam Turnbull  on Age and Turnout [July 2013]

Click here for an article from UK Polling Report on the interpretation of opinion poll data on age and voting behaviour [July 2013]

Click here for a BBC Radio 4 programme on young people's political views [June 2014]

 

  • Gender and Voting Behaviour

 Click here for Guardian article on Gender and Voting NEW link added February 2013

Click here for a different view from Peter Kellner of You Gov on Gender and Voting Behaviour NEW link added February 20th 2013

 

[ On March 16th 2012 I have modified this section of the notes to take account of differences in the definition and measurement of the gender gap and to include some information on the effects of inter-relationships between gender, age and social class on voting behaviour. In this latest revision of this section I now rely primarily on the IPSOS MORI data on gender and voting behaviour which can be found on the IPSOS MORI site and also in successive IPSOS MORI studies of the General Elections of 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2010. ]

The measurement of the gender gap can present some problems but students may find the  IPSOS MORI summary presentation of the data especially useful especially for examination purposes.

You may also  for click here for BBC Analysis Programme [about 25 minutes] on Gender and Voting Behaviour.

  • This section of the notes now divided into four parts.

  1. The Basic Trends in the Relationships between Gender and Voting Behaviour 1974 [Oct] -2010.

  2. Data on Gender and Voting Behaviour 1974 [Oct] - 2001

  3. Data on Gender and Voting Behaviour in 2005 and 2010.

  4. Some Further Information [via external links ] on Gender and Voting Behaviour in 2010. 

 

  • The Basic Trends in the Relationships between Gender and Voting Behaviour 1974 [Oct] -2010.

  1. The gender Gap may be calculated in two different ways; The Female- Male- Gender Gap in Conservative Voting and the Male -Female Gender gap in Conservative voting. These gaps have the same values but with different signs. This seems clear enough but by analogy if you imagine two individuals X and Y who weigh 15  stone and 11stone respectively the X-Y "weight gap"  is 4 stone and the Y-X "weight gap" is -4stone. [In principle similar gender gaps in Labour voting could also be calculated]

  2. The Female-Male Gender gap is calculated as [% Female Con Vote- % Female Lab Vote] minus [% Male Con Vote -% Male Lab Vote].

  3. The Male-Female Gender Gap is Calculated as [% Male Con Vote- % Male Lab Vote] minus [% Female Con Vote- % Female Lab Vote].

  4. On the basis of the IPSOS MORI data [see below]  the Female-Male Gender Gap changed from +12 to -5 between 1974[Oct] and 2010 illustrating that between these dates women became decreasingly pro-Conservative/increasingly pro-Labour by comparison with men.

  5. Analogously the Male-Female Gender Gap changed from -12 to +5 indicating that between these dates men became increasingly pro-Conservative/ decreasingly pro-Labour by comparison with men.

  6. However IPSOS MORI present these data slightly differently  noting that there was a positive Female-Male Gender Gap between 1974 [Oct] and 2001 and a positive Male-Female Gender Gap in 2005 and 2010 [See Below].

  7. There are also important interconnections between gender, age and voting behaviour. Between 1974[Oct ] and 2001 even though the overall positive gender gap indicated that women overall were relatively pro-Conservative/ anti Labour by comparison with men negative Female-Male Gender Gaps among young voters indicated that young women  were less pro- Conservative/more pro-Labour than young men.

  8. As noted in point 6 IPSOS MORI present the 2005 and 2010 data as indicating a Positive Male-Female Gap .

  9. This positive Male-Female gender gap was even greater among voters 18-24 and 25-34 in 2005 and among voters 25-34 [but not 18-24]  in 2010 indicating that male voters in these age groups at these times were specially pro-Conservative /anti-Labour by comparison with female voters in these age groups. 

  10. There are also important interconnections between gender, social class and voting behaviour. These are illustrated below.

These conclusions are now illustrated  using the IPSOS MORI data

I Overall Gender Gap Trends  

The Full IPSOS MORI Data are presented below. Calculations of the Gender Gaps do not appear in the original tables and I have appended two additional rows containing calculations of the Female-male and Male-Female gender gaps. The following  BLUE figures illustrate trends in the female -male gap in voting behaviour  and the following  RED figures illustrate trends in the male-female gap in voting behaviour . It is numerically inevitable that for each year the two types of gender gaps are identical but with different signs.

 
 
  Oct 1974 1979 1983 1987 1992 1997 2001 2005 2010
Men                  
Conservative 32 43 42 43 41 31 32 34 38
Labour 43 40 30 32 37 45 42 34 28
Lib / Alliance / LD 18 13 25 23 18 17 18 22 22
Con lead -11 +3 +12 +11 +4 -14 -10 0
 
+10
Women
Conservative 39 47 46 43 44 32 33 32 36
Labour 38 35 26 32 34 44 42 38 31
Lib / Alliance / LD 20 15 27 23 18 18 19 23 26
Con lead +1 +12 +20 +11 +10 -12 -9 -6 +4
Female-Male Gender-Gap   +12   +9    +8 0   +6   +2  +1   -6   -5
Male-Female Gender Gap -12 -9 -8 0 -6 -2 -1 +6 +5
 
You may also note a slight discrepancy in the data for 2010. IPSOS MORI give  a Conservative lead over Labour among women of 4 points despite 36% and 31% of women voting Conservative and Labour respectively. Using the Con Lead among women of 4 points the gender gaps would be -6  respectively but as we shall see IPSOS MORI  calculate the Male Female gap as gender gaps as -+5 which means that by analogy the Female-Male gap is -5. These discrepancies are due to rounding of the data.

With regard to  the data on the Female-Male Gender Gap we see that this has usually been positive from OCT 1974 to 2001 [although zero in   1987] and that it has been negative in 2005 and 2010. Thus the initially positive Female-Male Gender Gap is a measure of women's traditional relative Pro-Conservatism/ anti-Labourism and the more recent negative Female -Male Gender Gap illustrates Females recent relative Pro-Labourism/anti-Conservatism.

Analogously the Male-Female Gender Gap trend from negative to positive illustrates a shift from relative Male anti-Conservatism/Pro-Labourism  to relative Male pro-Conservatism/anti-Labourism.

2 Recent IPSOS MORI Presentation of Gender gap Data

However the actual IPSOS MORI presentation of the gender gap data involves use of both the Female-Male Gender Gap and the Male-Female Gap . In each of the IPSOS MORI studies of the General Elections of 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2010 the gender gaps are calculated. In the following table it is clear that for the General Elections of 1974[OCT] to 2001 IPSOS MORI define the Gender Gap as the Female-Male gender gap and measure it as [Female Conservative vote- Female Labour Vote ] minus [Male Conservative Vote- Male Labour Vote] and the positive but declining figures indicate that females were relatively Pro-Conservative /anti Labour by comparison with men between 1974 [Oct ] and 2001.

Table 2: Gender and Voting Behaviour 1974 [Oct]-  2010 [Source Explaining Cameron's Coalition 2010 with slight amendments]

Male Pro-Conservative/Anti- Labour lead over Females[= M-F Gender Gap]   Female Pro-Conservative /Anti -Labour Lead over Males [ =F-M Gender Gap]
  1974 OCT +12
  1979 +9
  1983 +8
  1987 0
  1992 +6
  1997 +2
  2001 +1
+6 2005 -6
+5 2010 -5

 

If we continue to measure the Gender Gap as the Female-Male gender gap the gaps for 2005 and 2006 would be minus6 and minus 5 respectively indicating that in 2005 and 2010 women were relatively less Conservative/pro-Labour in comparison with men. I have included these minus figures in red .

However these red data do not appear in the original IPSOS MORI Table [See Explaining Cameron's Coalition p286]  because in their  own table IPSOS MORI actually switch from measurement of the Female-Male Gender gap  to the measurement of the Male-Female Gender gap which has become positive in 2005 and 2010 indicating that men are now relatively pro-Conservative /anti Labour in comparison with women. [What are the M-F Gender gaps between 1974 Oct and 2001?]

Thus the IPSOS MORI data show   that a positive Female-Male gender gap from 1974 Oct to 2001 [excluding 1987]  has been transformed into a Positive Male-Female gender gap in 2005 and 2010. Female relative Pro-Conservatism/anti-Labourism has been replaced by Male relative pro-Conservatism/ anti-Labourism. This does seem to be a particularly clear way of illustrating changes in relative Female and Male voting behaviour since October 1974.

Relative female Pro-Conservative/Anti-Labour voting up to 2005 was usually explained by theories that for much of the C20th, women were less likely to be in paid employment  and less likely to be trade union members or because women were seen as possibly more  "traditional" or  more "deferential" than men in their views as a result gender differences in socialisation or because women, on average, live longer than men and as seen above, age is correlated with Conservative voting.

However according to the IPSOS MORI data females were relatively Anti-Conservative and Pro-Labour in 2005 and 2010. This may have been due to long run generational changes in female attitudes and values and/or to the return to Parliament of an increasing number of female, Labour MPs and/or to Labour's greater willingness to campaign on female related issues although many  women may have been dissuaded from voting Labour in 2005 as a result of UK involvement in the Iraq war .

Further insights into the relationships between gender and voting behaviour may be found via the consideration of relationships between gender, age and voting behaviour  

Gender, Age and Voting Behaviour Between 1974 Oct and 2001

IPSOS MORI found that the  Female-Male Gender gap  between 1974 Oct and 2001 was general positive for all voters illustrating that in overall terms women at this time were relatively more pro-Conservative /anti -Labour than men.  However when they calculated gender gaps for different age groups they found that  even though the overall Female -Male gender gap was positive in 1983, 1992 and 1997 and zero in 1987 indicating women's overall relative pro-Conservatism/anti -Labourism negative Female-Male gender gaps sometimes occurred among younger voters indicating that they were relatively anti Conservative/ pro-Labour in comparison with younger men. The following table provides information on the gender gap related to age.

Table3: Gender, Age and Voting Behaviour 1983-2010 ] [Disregard the 2005 and 2010 data for the time being]

  1983 1987 1992 1997 2001 2005 2010
All voters +8 0 +6 +2 +1 -6 -5
18-24 +5 -17 -18 -14 -12 -20 +3
25-34 +14 -4 0 +3 +4 -18 -30
35-54 +9 +11 +10 +9 +2 -8 -6
55+ +5 0 +12 +2 +2 0 0

Thus although women in total tended to be more Pro Conservative/anti Labour in between 1983 and 2001 [as indicated by the positive Female-Male Gender gap for all voters other than in 1987] relative pro-Conservatism /anti-Labourism was usually greater among older women relative to older men than among younger women relative to younger men as indicated especially by the large negative female -male gender gaps for 18-24 year olds in 1987-2001 and the narrow gender gaps [negative, zero and only narrowly positive among 25-34 year olds.[ Data for 1983-2001 from Labour's Landslide  1997  and Explaining Labour's Second Landslide 2001 both by Robert Worcester and Robert Mortimore for IPS0S MORI. [The 2005 and 2010 calculations have been done by me and are based upon IPSOS MORI 2005 and 2010 original data.]

Gender, Age and Voting Behaviour in 2005 and 2010

We have seen in Table 2 above that IPSOS MORI began in 2005 to present their summary information on the Gender Gap in terms of the Male- Female Gender Gap and the same procedure is adopted by Rosie Campbell in her recent writing on voting behaviour. I shall therefore use this same procedure below  Thus the Male -Female Gender Gap in Conservative voting is measured as:

[% Male Con Vote- % Male Lab Vote ] minus [% Female Con Vote- % Female Lab Vote] and a positive Male-Female Gender gap in 2005 and 2010 implies that men have become  relatively pro-Conservative/anti-Labour by comparison with women.

   Using IPSOS MORI  data I have calculated the overall Male-Female  gender gap and various Male-Female gender gaps for  different age groups  the  2005 and 2010 General Elections.[Click here for IPSOS Mori Data on the Social Influences on voting behaviour in 2010. ]

 Table 4:Male-Female Gender Gaps and the 2005 and 2010 General Elections [based upon IPSOS MORI Data]

  A.% Male Con Vote-% Male Lab Vote 2005 B. % Female Con Vote-% Female Lab Vote 2010 A.% Male Con Vote-% Male Lab Vote 2010 B. % Female Con Vote-% Female Lab Vote 2010

 Columns A minus Columns B= % M-F Gender Gaps in 2005 and 2010. Data on Percentage Swings to the Conservatives between 2005 and2010 appear in BLUE

All Voters [34-34] [32-38] [38-28] [36-31] +6  +5    Male=5.0%  Female =%.5%
Age 18-24 [33-34] [22-43] [29-34]] [30-28] +20  -3   Male=-2.0%  Female=11.5%
Age 25-34 [29-33] [21-43] [42-23] [27-38] +18  +30  Male= 11.5%  Female= 5.5%
Age 35-54 [31-36] [[27-40] [36-28] [33-31] +8    +6  Male=6.5%    Female= 7.5%
Age 55+ [40-33] [41-34] [41-29] [42-30]  0      0   Male=2.5%  Female=2.5%
           

 

  • By 2005  males as a whole had become relatively pro-Conservative/anti- Labour by comparison with females primarily as a result of the development of  large positive Male-Female gender gap among 18-24 year olds and among 25-34 year olds.

  • However by 2010 the situation among younger voters changed significantly.

  1. Among voters 18-24 young men swung slightly from Conservative to Labour between 2005 and 2010 whereas young women swung substantially toward the Conservatives to such an extent that males  18-24 were actually less  pro-Conservative/anti-Labour than females  18-24 .in 2010.

  2. However among voters 25-34 males swung more toward the Conservatives  than women 25-34 so that males were even more relatively pro--Conservative/anti-Labour relative to females in 2010 than they were in 2005.

  3. The large changes in different directions in the Gender gap among 18-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds more or less offset each other and this , combined with the much smaller changes among other age groups meant that there was very little change in the overall Male-Female gender gap between 2005 and 2010.combined .

 

Technicalities

  1. Rosie Campbell and Joni Lovenduski defined the Gender Gap as the Male-Female Gender gap and used this definition to calculate trends in the gender gap between 1992 and 2005. On this basis the gender gap was negative in 1992, 1997 and 2001 but positive in 2005.

  2. If you should wish to look back to Table 3  you will find that the gender gaps for 2005 and 2010 [in the blue cells of the table] are the same as in Table 4 but with a different sign. This is because in Table 3 the Female-Male gender gaps are calculated and in Table 4 the Male-Female gender gaps are calculated.

 

Gender, Age, Social Class and Voting Behaviour in 2001 and 2010.

So far we have investigated the trends in the overall gender gap and the variations in the gender gap as between voters of differing age groups. In their study of the 2001 General Election Robert Worcester and Roger Mortimore presented information  relationships between Gender, Age and Social Class. {See Explaining Labour's Second Landslide  pp 201-2Robert Worcester and Roger Mortimore.] These data are  presented in summary form as follows.

 Table 4:Gender Gap by Age and Social Class 2001

Social Class/Gender/Age Female-Male Gender Gap
ABC1 M 18-24 and ABC1 F 18-24 -5
ABC1 M 25-34 and ABC1 F 25-34 +9
ABC1 M 35-54 and ABC1 F 35-54 +5
ABC! M 55+ and ABC1 F 55+ +4
C2DE M 18-24 and C2DE F 18-24 -29
C2DE M 25-34 and C2DE F 25-34 -1
C2DE M 35-54 and C2DE F 35-54 -5
C2 DE M 55+ and C2DE  F 55+ +10
   

 We may note the following main points

  1. Traditional Positive Female-Male Gender gaps existed among voters aged 55+ in both social classes

  2. Non -traditional negative gender gaps existed among voters aged 18-24 in both social classes. However the negative gender gap was far greater in the C2DE social class than in the ABC1 social class.

Some further information on gender, age and voting behaviour and gender. social class and voting behaviour in 2005 and 2010 is presented below..

Gender , Social Class and Voting behaviour in 2010

  A.% Male Con Vote-% Male Lab Vote B. % Female Con Vote-% Female Lab Vote

Column A minus Column B= %M-F Gender Gap. % Swings to Conservative between 2005 and 2010 are in BLUE

AB [44-23] [34-29] +14    Male =5%   Female =-1% 
C1 [40-28] [39-28]  +1    Male =1%    Female= 6%
C2 [33-33] [41-25]  -16    Male =3.5%  Female= 11%

DE

[32-35]

[29-45]

 + 13  Male =10.0%   Female= 4.0%

 

  1. AB Males are relatively Pro-Conservative and Anti-Labour compared with AB females. Notice that AB females actually swung from Conservative to Labour between 2005 and 2010. All other social class/gender groups swung to the Conservatives.

  2. The gender gap is negligible among C1 voters.

  3. C2 males are relatively anti-Conservative and pro-Labour compared with C2 Females. Notice that the C2  Male swing to Conservative was far smaller than the C2 Female swing to Conservative. 

  4. However DE males are relatively pro-Conservative and anti-labour compared with DE females. Notice that the DE  Male swing to Conservative was far greater than the DE Female swing to  Conservative.

  5. How would you explain the significant differences in voting behaviour of C2 and DE women?

These IPSOS MORI data are extremely useful but it is important to note that there were some variations in findings of different polls at the time of the 2010 General Election. For example  in some YouGov surveys at the time of the 2010 General Election the overall traditional gender gap does reappear and also a research study cited in Britain at the Polls 2010 : Nicholas Allen and John Bartle {Editors] 2010 reaches the same conclusion .  You may  click here for a YouGov 2010 Survey for the Sun Newspaper [Fieldwork 2nd-3rd May] and click here for a YouGov  2010  Survey for the Sun Newspaper [Fieldwork 4th -5th May]: data from the latter survey suggest that the traditional gender gap in voting behaviour returned in 2010.

However you may also  click here for a more recent Daily Telegraph article [January 30th 2012] which, among other things, contains polling data from YouGov for January 2012 which indicate that the Conservatives are indeed currently more popular with men than with women. Click here for a similar item from the Guardian

Click here for a report of research on women's political attitudes which may help to explain the reversal of the traditional gender gap in voting behaviour

You may also click here for BBC Analysis Programme [about 25 minutes] on Gender and Voting Behaviour.

You may click here  for the most recent regularly updated information on Gender and Voting Behaviour from the monthly Ipsos Mori Political Monitor

Click here for a recent [December 2013] Guardian analysis by Peter Kellner of females' relatively pro-Labour sympathies

 Students should discuss with their teachers how to respond to this divergence in research findings.

Click here for the BBC's Map of the 2001 General Election Results

Click here for the BBC's Map of the 2005 General Election Results

Click here for the BBC's Map of the 2010 General Election Results

Click here for a Guardian article on Region and Voting Behaviour in January 2012

You may click here  for the most recent regularly updated information on Region and Voting Behaviour from the monthly Ipsos Mori Political Monitor

Voters in Scotland, Wales and the more northerly regions of Great Britain have traditionally more likely to vote Labour than Conservative  partly because there have traditionally been larger percentages of working class voters in these areas and because in areas of high working class concentration the likelihood that working class voters will in fact vote Labour tends to be greater. It has been noted elsewhere that the linkages between social class and voting behaviour have tended to weaken especially since the 1960s but it has also been argued that there are good reasons to believe that this process of class dealignment may be stronger in the South of England than in Northern England, Scotland and Wales.

The following data illustrate regional differences in voting behaviour between 1997 and 2010. They have been collated from successive House of Commons Library Research Papers on the General Elections of 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2010. {Notice that I have included the SNP and PC votes as percentages of the Scottish and Welsh votes respectively but have not included the SNP and PC votes as percentages of the GB and UK votes; neither have I included data on votes for other UK parties nor on the vote shares of the Northern Irish parties. Interested students may consult the original sources for these data. ] 

Percentage Vote Shares of Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP and PC 1997-2010

  Cons 1997 Cons 2001 Cons 2005 Cons 2010 Lab 1997 Lab 2001 Lab 2005 Lab 2010 Lib Dem 1997 Lib Dem 2001 Lib Dem 2005 Lib Dem 2010 SNP 1997 SNP 2001 SNP 2005 SNP 2010 PC 1997 PC 2001 PC 2005 PC 2010
North East 19.8 21.3 19.5 23.7 64.0 59.4 52.9 43.6 12.6 16.7 23.3 23.6                
North. West 27.6 29.3 28.7 31.7 53.6 50.7 45.1 39.4 14.5 16.7 21.4 21.6                
Yorks. and Humber 28.0 30.2 29.1 32.8 51.9 48.6 43.6 34.4 16.0 17.1 20.7 22.9                
East Midlands 34.9 37.3 37.1 41.2 47.8 45.1 39.0 29.8 13.6 15.4 18.5 20.8                
West Midlands 33.7 35.0 35.0 39.5 47.0 44.8 38.7 30.6 13.8 14.7 18.6 20.3                
East 39.5 41.8 43.3 47.1 38.6 36.8 29.8 19.6 17.1 17.5 21.8 24.1                
London 31.2 30.5 31.9 34.5 49.5 47.4 38.9 36.6 14.6 17.5 21.9 22.1                
South East 41.9 42.9 45.0 49.3 29.1 29.4 24.4 16.2 23.3 23.7 25.4 26.2                
South West 36.7 38.5 38.6 42.8 26.4 26.3 22.8 15.4 31.3 31.2 32.6 34.7                
                                         
England 33.7 35,2 35.7 39.5 43.5 41.4 35.5 28.1 18.0 19.4 22.9 24.2                
Scotland 17.5 15.6 15.8 16.7 45.6 43.3 38.9 42.0 13.0 16.3 22.6 18.9 22.1 20.1 17.7 19.9        
Wales 19.6 21.0 21.4 26.1 54.7 48.6 42.7 36.2 12.3 13.8 18.4 20.1         9.9 14.3 12.6 11.3
Great Britain 31.5 32.7 33.2 36.9 44.3 42.0 36.1 29.7 17.2 18.8 22.6 23.6                
UK 30.7 31.7 32.4 36.1 43.2 40.7 35.2 29.0 16.8 18.3 22.0 23.0                
Regional Variation [RV] Statistic     27.5 32.6     27.0 27.4     14.2 15.8                

With regard to the General Elections of 1997, 2001 , 2005 and 2010 if we compare the General Election results of 1997 and 2010 we may note the following main regional trends

  • Notice that in each of the 4  General Elections English voters have been more pro-Conservative and less pro-Labour than Scottish and Welsh voters.

  • However note that in both 1997 and 2001 English voters were nevertheless more likely to vote Labour than to vote Conservative. In 2005 and 2010 the reverse was the case.

  • Labour's large 1997 leads over the Conservatives in the North East, the North West and Yorkshire and Humberside diminished substantially by 2010.

  • The East Midlands and the West Midlands  were pro-Labour in 1997 but pro-Conservative in 2010.

  • London was strongly pro-Labour in 1997 but only narrowly pro-Labour in 2010.

  • The Conservatives' 1997 lead over Labour in the East ,the South East and the South West increased considerably by 2010.

  • Between 1997 and 2010 there was little overall change in Labour's lead over the Conservatives in Scotland.

  • Support for Labour actually increased between 2005 and 2010: the only Country/region where this occurred. Reasons included Gordon Brown's Scottishness, the fact that the Liberal Democrats had discarded two Scottish leaders and the possibility that  the SNP rather than the Labour Government received more blame for economic difficulties in Scotland. Notice also that David Cameron's strategy seemed to fall on many deaf ears in Scotland.

  • Support for Labour in Wales declined very considerably between 1997 and 2010 and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats gained approximately equally as  a result of the decline in Labour's support .

  • Liberal Democrat support in creased between 1997 in all of the English Regions and in Scotland and Wales . However interestingly, the increase in Liberal Democrat support was smallest in the South West which has traditionally been the area most strongly in support of the Liberal Democrats leading to speculation that Liberal Democrat support may have peaked , at least temporarily in the South West.

  • The final row of the second table provides a measure of regional variation  [RV] in voting behaviour in the general elections of 2005 and 2010.  For each main  political party the RV statistic  shows the percentage difference in voter support  between the most popular region and the least popular countries/regions. You may notice for example that the regional variation in support for the  Lib Dems  is lower than for the Conservative and Labour parties and that the RV increased for the Conservative Party increased by more than the RVs for  Labour and Liberal Democrats.

Within the regions voters in conurbations and large cities have been generally more likely to vote Labour and less likely to vote Conservative than voters than voters living in small towns and rural areas and there are also additional factors relating to particular constituencies which may influence their voting patterns such that, for example constituencies with relatively high proportions of white collar workers and retired voters are relatively more Conservative while constituencies in deprived inner city areas are especially pro-Labour. [See Britain Votes 2005 edited by Pippa Norris and Christopher Wlezien for further details.]

These regional and local differences in voting behaviour have been explained primarily in terms of social class- related factors.

  1. Regions and localities with relatively high concentrations of working class residents and relatively low concentrations of middle class residents are likely to generate more Labour voters simply because of the relatively large numbers of working class residents.

  2. However in regions and localities of high working class concentration the strength of the political socialisation process encouraging working class voters to vote Labour is likely to be especially strong so that voting support for Labour is likely to be greater than might have been predicted from the proportions of working class and middle class residents alone and even middle class Labour voting is likely to increase in such areas.. Similar processes operate in regions and localities with high concentrations of middle class residents to increase middle class and also working class support for the Conservative Party.

  • Activity: Use the above table to analyse and compare relationships between region and voting behaviour in the General Elections of  1997 and 2010

 

  • Religion and Voting Behaviour [Data from IPSOS MORI:  results of their 2001 survey on religious affiliation and party support.]

Religion was a much more significant influence on voting behaviour in mainland Britain from the mid C19th until the early C20th when members of the Church of England were especially likely to support the Conservative Party and Catholics and Nonconformist churches were more likely to support the Liberal Party. It continues to have a very strong influence on voting behaviour in Ireland and also in certain key areas on mainland Britain such as Liverpool and Glasgow where Catholics have traditionally been out of sympathy with traditional Conservative governments' rejection of an independent united Ireland  and Protestants have supported the Conservative defence of an independent and Protestant dominated Northern Ireland. Similar views can also be found in certain key areas on mainland Britain such as Liverpool and Glasgow where religious links with Ireland may override social class loyalties and cause many working class Protestants to vote Conservative and middle class Catholics to vote Labour..

However with the rise of the Labour Party and the growth of social class based voting religion became a less important determinant of voting behaviour. Nevertheless between 1945 and 1970 Catholics  were quite significantly more likely to vote Labour and less likely to vote Conservative than supporters of he Church of England and other Protestant denominations  mainly because mainland British Catholics may often have had family connections with Ireland but also because they were more likely than Protestants to be working class so that their voting behaviour was actually explained more by their class membership than by their religion.  The following data show continuing correlations between voting behaviour and religion in 2001 but these correlations too are likely mainly to reflect the indirect influence of social class.

It is important to note also that in the 2005 General Election there were greater than average declines in support for the Labour Party in constituencies with large Muslim communities because of Muslim opposition to the Iraq War which may however have derived from a complex combination of religious and ethnic influences. Labour lost Bethnal Green and Bow  to the Respect candidate George Galloway [who had consistently opposed the Iraq War] partly as a result of the defection of Muslim voters.

 

17-22 May 2001
Base: 1,960 adults 18+
  All RC CofE CofS Free Church etc Oth Prot Other None
  % % % % % % % %
Base: 1,960 239 966 105 110 25 142 356
Conservative 27 19 33 20 24 29 12 22
Labour 52 60 50 53

48

33 63 52
Lib Dem 16 16 14 6 24 12 22 21
SNP/PC 3 1 * 21 1 27 2 3
Green 1 1 1 0 1 0 * 2
Ref/UKIP/Dem 1 3 1 0 0 0 1 *
Other 1 1 * 0 2 0 * 1
Would not vote 11 13 17 6 5 25 17 16
Undecided 13 10 9 10 11 10 16 12
Refused 2 3 2 1 2 0 1 2

 

Please note that very useful data on Religion and Voting Behaviour in 2005 and 2010  can be found in the Ethnic Minority British Election Survey {EMBES} as reported on the British Religion in Numbers {BRIN} website.

NEW Links added August 2014. Click here for a recent detailed report on relationships between religion and voting behaviour and here for summary BBC coverage of the report

Click here for a recent BBC Audio Report [about 9 minutes] on Ethnicity and Voting Behaviour [from The Westminster Hour]

Click here for further recent survey data on ethnicity and voting behaviour in 2005 and 2010 . [Data from the Ethnic Minority British Election Survey {EMBES} as reported on the British Religion in Numbers {BRIN} website.]

Click here and here and follow the additional links for further detailed information from the EMBES survey. New links added April 2013

Click here for a recent [December 2012]  Independent article reporting Conservative concerns at their current unpopularity among ethnic minority voters

Click here for a BBC item on The Conservatives and Ethnic Minority Voters NEW link added February 2013 

Click here for a Guardian item on Ethnic Minority Voters and the 2015 General Election but also here for an important Guardian letter from Dr. Chris Husbands  NEW links added August 2013

Click here for an Observer item on ethnicity and voting behaviour. NEW Link added August 2014  

Sociology students will be familiar with the important distinction between "race" [which is a biologically based concept of negligible scientific validity] and the much more useful concept of ethnicity which refers to the cultural, religious and linguistic aspects of different social groups' lives. I focus here on relationships between ethnicity and voting behaviour.

IPSOS MORI Estimates of Voting Behaviour in the General Election of 1997

  Con Lab Lib Dem Other Labour Lead
White 32 43 18 7 11
Non-White 18 70 9 3 52
Asian 22 66 9 3 44
Black 12 82 5 1 70

As is shown above ethnic minority voters [both Asian and Black] were far more likely than White voters to vote Labour and far less likely to vote Conservative in the General election of 1997. This, of course, should come as no surprise since although ethnic minority members can be found throughout the British class structure Afro-Caribbean origin and Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin people are represented disproportionately in the working class, disproportionately likely to experience poverty and also disproportionately likely to live in large conurbations where working class support for Labour is strongest. The discrepancy between Black and Asian voting can be explained at least to some extent by the more privileged situation of Indian voters relative to other ethnic minority voters.

Nevertheless in overall terms ethnic minority members in all social classes are more likely than white voters in the same social classes to vote Labour which suggests that ethnicity has an important independent effect on voting behaviour beyond what would be predicted solely by the consideration of the class situations of ethnic minority voters. Ethnic minority voters may tend to believe that even if significant patterns of ethnic disadvantage continue to exist in UK society, Labour governments have at least addressed these problems more meaningfully than have Conservative governments which, if anything are associated with the hardening of ethnic inequalities especially in the era of Thatcherism. Furthermore although ethnic minorities are heavily underrepresented among MPs in all political parties it has traditionally seemed more likely that their representation would increase faster in the Labour Party .

 

IPSOS MORI Estimates of Voting Behaviour in the General Election of 2005 [Click here for the  2006 Ipsos Mori paper Ethic Minority Voters and Non-Voters at the 2005 British General Election by Roger Mortimore and Kully Kaur Ballagan from  which the following data have been extracted]

  All Caribbean African Indian Bangladeshi Pakistani Other/Mixed
Con 10 3 2 11 9 11 13
Lab 58 80 79 56 41 50 47
Lib Dem 16 5 11 14 16 25 22
Other 4 2 1 1 21 8 5
Refused to say 12 11 7 17 13 7 12

 

The above data on the 1997 and 2005 General Elections are not fully comparable since the 1997 data are drawn from Ipsos Mori's national survey classifying ethnic minority members into  the broad Black and Asian categories while the 2005 data are drawn from a small weighted sample of 1220 ethnic minority voters who are classified into differing ethnic groups within the broader Black and Asian categories.

In the 2005 sample the percentages of Caribbean and African voters voting Labour  were only  slightly smaller than the percentage of Black voters voting Labour in the 1997 sample  whereas the percentages of Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani voters voting Labour in the 2005 sample were  considerably smaller than the percentage of Asian voters voting Labour in 1997. Support for the Conservative Party was slightly higher among all three categories of Asian voters in the 2005 sample than for Asian voters as a whole in the 1997 sample but  support for the Liberal Democrats [which opposed the Iraq War]  among all three categories of Asian voters was  significantly higher in the 2005 sample than in the 1997 sample. Bangladeshi and Pakistani voters were significantly more likely than Indian voters in the 2005 sample to support Other parties[ mainly the Respect Party which also opposed the Iraq War] but it is noticeable also that in the 2005 sample  whereas Bangladeshis were more likely to vote for Other parties than for the Liberal Democrats the reverse was the case among Pakistanis.

 Although Labour did face significant electoral difficulties in 2005 as a result of the defection from Labour of many Muslim voters as a response to the Iraq war  and to  legislation relating to asylum seekers and anti-terrorism Labour only lost one parliamentary seat [Bethnal Green and Bow] as  a result of such defections, in this case mainly to the Respect Party. In the 2005 General Election Respect fielded 26 candidates and approximately 25% of its total national votes were gained by George Galloway in Bethnal Green and Bow which, according to the 2001 Census has 35.7% of Bangladeshi residents but only 2.7% of other Asian residents  and also, at 40%, has the highest concentration of Muslim residents  of all constituencies in the UK.

Ultimately in the 2005 General Election 13 Labour ethnic minority MPs were elected compared with two Conservative ethnic minority MPS and no Liberal Democrat ethnic minority MPs . 

[I am grateful to Mr. A. Endersby of Bishop Wordsworth's School Salisbury for drawing my attention to the Ipsos Mori report on the 2005 General Election ]

When he became leader of the Conservative Party David Cameron stated that he hoped to promote the election of more Conservative BME MPs and this may have encouraged greater electoral support among BME voters [especially perhaps among Indian voters] for the Conservatives.  In the event in 2010 27 BME MPs were elected to Parliament:  16 Labour MPs , 11 Conservative MPs and zero Liberal Democrats. and so  Mr. Cameron can claim to have made some progress in this respect. Nevertheless members of BME groups are still under-represented in Parliament: at the time of the 2001 Census BME members constituted 7.9% of the UK population but only 4.2% of MPs after the 2010 General Election.  Labour regained Bethnal Green and Bow from Respect in the 2010 General Election.

It has been argued that gradual changes in the UK class structure resulting in the increased representation of ethnic minority members within the UK middle class could be expected to lead to increased support for the Conservative party especially perhaps among Indian -origin and some -African origin voters. However you may Click here for a Runnymede Trust/BES Slide Presentation on Ethnic Minority Voting in the 2010 General Election which suggests  that even though there has been some decline in Minority Ethnic support for Labour Minority Ethnic voters remained considerably more likely to vote Labour than to vote Conservative in 2010.. You may also click here for further recent survey data on ethnicity and voting behaviour in 2005 and 2010 . [Data from the Ethnic Minority British Election Survey {EMBES} as reported on the British Religion in Numbers {BRIN} website.

Click here for Lord Ashcroft's Publication [April 2012] on Ethnicity and Voting Behaviour. Lord Ashcroft is a former Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party who has been involved heavily in the finance and organisation of previous Conservative Party election campaigns. The publication provides very detailed information on ethnic patterns of voting behaviour with the aim of devising new strategies for increasing the attractiveness of the Conservative Party to ethnic minority voters.

Click here for a fairly detailed summary  of the Lord  Ashcroft Report  written by Paul Goodman on the Conservative Home web site.

 

 

Document Summary

  • The years 1945-1970 may be described reasonably as a time of two party dominance and relative electoral stability.

  • Psephologists explained voting behaviour mainly in terms of the Party identification model of voting behaviour in which for most voters social class differences result in  differences in political socialisation, social class differences in party images, social class differences in party identification and social class differences in voting behaviour.

  • Throughout 1945 -1970 there were fairly stable relationships between social class and voting behaviour when , on average approximately 62% of working class voters voted Labour and approximately 66% of middle class voters voted Conservative. {Percentages are own calculations  from data in How Britain Votes].

  • Substantial minorities of voters did not vote predictably in accordance with their social class. They came to be described as "deviant voters" and several factors were suggested as explanations of their voting behaviour.

  • Although social class was the most important determinant of voting behaviour age, gender, region, religion and ethnicity also influenced voting behaviour although in some cases social class also helped to explain the influences of these non-class factors on voting behaviour.

The relatively stable patterns of voting behaviour which existed from 1945-1970 were increasingly replaced by increasing electoral volatility leading to new theories of voting behaviour focusing on the decline of party identification [or partisan dealignment] and class dealignment . These developments will be discussed in the following document.

 

 

 

 j