Labour’s offer must have as much appeal in Stoke as in Stoke Newingtonby Olivia Bailey / September 23, 2018 / Leave a comment
Labour conference gathers today in the wake of a miserable summer. The anti-semitism crisis has brought shame on the party, and members and elected representatives remain divided.
But for all this, Labour’s fundamental position is unchanged since its strong election performance at the 2017 election. There is still every chance it will form the next government.
Labour only needs to gain 68 seats at the next election to win a majority of one, many fewer to be the largest party—and it faces a weak and divided government.
To secure that victory, however, Labour must hold on to its diverse coalition of supporters.
The challenge ahead
New Fabian Society research published today reveals just how fragile Labour’s electoral coalition has become over the last decade and more.
While Labour’s support has been rising for years in big cities, our analysis of parliamentary seats in England and Wales reveals the party’s backing has dropped in the most working-class seats.
The study proves that the most strongly working-class constituencies are no longer the Labour party’s ‘heartlands’ in terms of votes cast.
It also reveals that the seats with the highest proportion of people in professional occupations are—remarkably—now more Labour-leaning than the national average.
A diverse base
To understand the implications of these dramatic shifts in Labour’s support, last autumn I spent six days with six different Labour voters.
David, Devon, George, Mary, Michael and Yasmin were selected to represent the diverse components of Labour’s support base: the young, remain supporters, professionals, black and minority ethnic voters, the working class and city dwellers.
The most striking revelation from spending time with each of them was just how different Labour voters are from one another. Some voted to leave the EU and some to remain. Some value community and tradition and some actively seek to change it. Some are conﬁdent and wealthy and some are afraid and insecure.
These differences have led to active hostility between Labour voters. Yasmin, a teacher from Manchester, spoke of the “average Joe and Joan Bloggs … who see asylum seekers coming over here, who don’t see the bigger picture, who just see things very blinkered.”
George, a student, was disparaging about any concerns about immigration and the loss of community assets: “Having that as a reason to vote Leave…