Impactof Social Class on Voting Behavior in the United Kingdom
Impactof Social Class on Voting Behavior in the United Kingdom
Votersin different jurisdiction are influenced by different factors to voteor support different political parties. Social class has been one ofthe major factors influencing the decisions making process among theU.K voters. The U.K. voters have been aligning themselves along theirrespective classes and voting for candidates that they believe willadvance their policies once they are elected (Andersen, 2000, p. 2).However, the classes in the U.K have been de-aligned for severaldecades. This paper will prove the fact that social classes are nolonger the key determinants of the voting behavior in the UnitedKingdom.
Historyof the relationship between voting behavior and class
Historically,the people of the United Kingdom value social classes and tend tomake decisions of national importance depending on how the outcome ofthose decisions will affect their respective classes. The analysis ofthe relationship between class and voting behavior in the UnitedKingdom began in 1945, when preliminary findings indicated thatsocial class was key determinant of how the people of the UnitedKingdom voted (Bites, 2015, p. 2). The United Kingdom’s communitywas divided into upper class, middle class, lower working class,upper working class, and long-term or temporary working class. Eachof these classes voted to political wing that promised to protect itsinterests. These trends were confirmed by elections held between the1940s and 1960s when the working classes (middle, upper, andtemporary) voted for the labor party while upper and middle classesvoted for the conservative party (Bites, 2015, p. 2).
Classde-alignment is a term used to indicate the significance of socialclass as the key determinant of the voting behavior in the U.K.started declining. The limited impact of the social class on the U.K.voting behavior in today’s political system started in the 1960sand has continued reducing with time. Elections held in the 1960sindicating a surprising change in the voters’ behavior where only64 % of the working classes voted for labor party (Bites, 2015, p.1). The 1970s elections indicated a further de-alignment of thesocial class where only 57 % of the working classes voted the LaborParty, which confirmed that the people of the United Kingdom wereshifting away from class-determined voting patterns. This trend hascontinued to-date where the outcome of an election cannot bepredicted using the size of the population of different classes as itused to be.
Factorsthat have contributed towards a decline in the significance of socialclass
Currently,U.K. voters are motivated by five key factors to vote for a givencandidate or political party. First, the consideration of thegeographical location of individual voters has distorted the socialclass mentality where the U.K. voters now tend to align themselveswith location. The impact of geographical location on the votingbehavior became apparent in 2001 when about 56.3 % of the voterslocated in the south of England voted conservative while 82.4 % ofthose living in the north voted the Labor party (Bites, 2015, p. 2).This suggests that voters in the two geographical locations paidlittle attention to their respective social classes and followedfavored political parties that were more dominant in their locations.Class-based voting patterns indicate a relatively uniformdistribution of support individual parties nationwide, but thegeographical-based patters indicate the popularity of parties incertain regions.
Ageand background have also been shown to have some influence in thevoting behavior of the U.K. voters. The influence of age on thevoting behavior was discovered by G.B. Shaw, who stated that a personwho fails to become a socialist by the age of 25 years has not heartwhile a voter who fails to become a conservative have no head (Bites,2015, p. 1). This statement was based on the observation that aproportion of the people of the United Kingdom seemed to affiliatethemselves with the political parties as their age changed.Therefore, this category of voters does not maintain loyalty tocertain political parties. Apart from the age of individual ethnicityalso plays a role in influencing the behavior of the U.K. voters. Theanalysis of the 2010 elections confirmed that most of theAfro-Caribbean voters favored the Labor Party (Bites, 2015, p. 2).This indicates that social class of individual voters is no longeramong major issue being considered by the U.K. voters.
Media(including the newspapers, television, magazines, and radio) havegained the capacity to influence the decision of the voters. Themedia has gained the popularity during the information and digitalage. The majority of the U.K. voters are now able to assess theleadership ability of individual leaders and the manifestos of theirpolitical parties (Newman, 2012, p. 2). The editorial sections of thenewspaper provide critical analysis of different political parties,which influences the opinions of voters about those parties and theirleaders. Ration and television are considered as some of the mediachannels that address political topics impartially, thus giving theaudience the opportunity to form informed opinions before deciding onthe political parties or the leaders that they should vote for duringelections. In addition, the U.K. politicians have been using theinternet (including blogs, websites, podcasts, and social mediasites) to interact with voters, which helps them to attract votersacross the social classes For example, the media popularized theeconomic policies that David Cameron and Ed Miliband used to lurevoters in 2015. The media portrayed Cameron as a superb economistwhile Miliband was depicted as a leader who will penalize thetaxpayers and business leaders (Swinford, 2015, p. 1). This indicatesthat the 2015 election was based on issues and not classes.Therefore, the increase in the strength of the media has allowedpoliticians to reach voters from different social classes, which hasreduced influence of class on the voting behavior.
Inconclusion, social class has been among the major factors thatinfluence voters to favor particular leaders or political parties.However, the significance of the social classes in the U.K electionshas been declining with time as leaders gain support across differentclasses. The U.K. are now influenced by different factors that makepeople from different classes to vote for a given candidates. In mostcases, the U.K voters are influenced by specific issues (such as theeconomic policies) advanced by political parties. Moreover, the mediahas been playing a vital role in informing voters and helping themmake informed political decisions instead of relying on the opinionsheld by their respective classes. Trends in the U.K. voting behaviorindicate that voters will continue shifting away from class-basedvoting decisions to issue-based decisions.
Andersen,R. and Heath, A., 2000. Socialclass and voting: A multi-level analysis of individual andconstituency differences.Oxford: CREST.
Bites,H., 2015. Electoral systems, voting, and political attitude. BBC.Available at: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/higher/modern/uk_gov_politics/elect_vote/revision/1/>[Accessed 10 May 2015].
Newman,N., Dutton, H. and Blank, G., 2012. Social media in the changingecology of news: The fourth and fifth estates in Britain.InternationalJournal Internet Science7.1, 6-22.
Swinford,S., 2015. Labor donor: David Cameron has the best economic policies.TheTelegraph.Available <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/11502967/Labour-donor-David-Cameron-has-the-best-economic-policies.html>[Accessed 10 May 2015].