Friday, 10 February 2017

Shift in electorate not good news for Labour

We are all familiar with arguments that the old left-right divide is being replaced by one between those in favour of/benefitting from globalisation and those who have lost out from it. It is reflected in tensions within the Labour Party between the metropolitan faction from Remain voting constituencies and those MPs from the north representing Brexit voting areas.

A paper in the British Journal of Political Science by Will Jennings and others using data from the British Social Attitudes Survey from 1985 to 2012 found that British young people are more right-wing and authoritarian in their views than previous generations. Although they are more socially liberal on matters of equality and women's rights, they are also more consumerist and individualistic on issues such as the welfare state.

The generation that grew up in the period of Conservative rule starting with Margaret Thatcher hold more right-wing views than their predecessors. But 'Blair's babes', who came of age while Tony Blair and New Labour were in power, are even further to the right of the political spectrum. New Labour essentially reinforced Thatcherite policy values, reproducing them and making them more embedded.

There has been a clear rise in negative attitudes towards the benefits system, the unemployed, benefit recipients and the welfare system. Younger people also take a harder line on previous generations, despite crime levels having fallen.