Dealignment is the change from voting according to class. In recent times there has been a change from partisan alignment, voting based on class, for example people within the AB category have historically been more likely to vote conservative whereas people in the C2 and DE category have been more likely to vote Labour. From 1997-2005 the amount of people voting for conservative in the AB category fell by 6% and the amount of people in the C2 category went up 12%. This shows that class alignment may no longer be the main deciding factor that people use when voting in an election.
b) Using your knowledge as well as the extract, asses the impact of issue-voting on the results of general elections.
Issue voting is when somebody votes in an election based on the politicians or party’s stance on a certain current political issue. Issue voting have become more prevalent than it was in the twentieth century and the valence theorises that electoral success is based on a party’s ability to deliver on key issues. Past examples of party’s focusing on issue voters are sleaze and the economy in 1997, raising standards and elimination poverty in 2001, war and immigration in 2005 and Labours handling of the economy in 2010. The focus that election candidates have put on current issues instead of just party ideology in recent years show that issue voting is becoming an increasing factor that the electorate takes into consideration when voting for one party or another.
Issue voting may be as cause or product in the decrease of other types of voting such as alignment voting. Issue voting might also signify the decrease in emphasis on ideology stopping party’s from focusing on what the ideal future for the country and instead fixing issues that the UK has currently. In conclusion I think that even though issue voting is more popular than it has ever been in the past that there are still important factors such as class and age are still present and while not as popular as in the past they are still the basis of a large portion of the populations vote.
c) ‘A link still exists between class and voting.’ Discuss the extent to which social class still influences the voting behavior of Britains electorate.
The statement is partially correct because in the past social class was one of the biggest factors that affected voting behavior in the UK and although it is no longer as strong a factor as it used to be in deciding votes it is still there.
In the 2005 General Election the amount of senior and middle managers / executives (AB class) was 28% for Labour and the same class for Conservatives was 37%. This data shows that although the statistics for the upper classes are much closer than they used to be there is still a large difference in the amount of people in the AB class bracket that vote conservative rather than Labour. The cause of this could be that people who work in higher positions feel that conservative ideology and policy is more beneficial for them because of policies like privatisation, because they are more likely to afford private health care. Also tax cuts of up to 4 billion which voters in the AB category might feel that if they can afford pay for private health care then why should the be expected to help fund the NHS.
The Semi and Unskilled Workers/ Casual Workers/ Unemployed (DE classes) shows even more clearly that there is still a link between class and voting. In the General election of 2005 48% of voters in the DE bracket voted for Labour whilst only 25% voted conservative. These statistics show that there is an even stronger link to social class and voting behavior with the lower classes than the higher classes. This may be due to Labour’s policies of not wanting to privatise aspects of public services like the NHS which Conservatives have policies wanting to do so.
However even though there is clear evidence that class effects voting behaviour in major way there is also a lot of evidence to show that the link between class and voting is getting smaller each election. For example from 1997-2005 the results of voters in the AB bracket voting conservative fell by 6% and from 1997-2005 the results of voters in the DE bracket voting Labour fell 10%.
A reason for this change in voting over the past few election could be the increasing popularity of the Liberal democrat party which from 1997-2005 increased its share of the vote by at least 3% in every class bracket. The most noticeable gain for the Lib Dems was in the AB bracket in which they increased their share of the vote by 8% which could attribute to the decline in both Conservatives and Labours AB bracket. From 1997-2005 the total vote for the Liberal Democrats has increased by 21% emphasising that people are no longer just voting for the party which has traditionally represented their class.
Arguments can be made that there is no longer a single working class, instead the working class has been split into two, the old and the new. The ‘old working class’ consists of manual workers belonging to trade unions and the ‘new working class’ which are workers with better qualifications that work in the public sector.
In conclusion I believe that although the link between class and voting still exists it is getting smaller and smaller each election and people are starting to vote due to different qualities such region, age, ethnicity and media rather than class alignment which never truely existed in the first place because there was always a percentage of upper classes that voted for Labour and lower classes that voted Conservative or people of all classes that voted for small party’s.