Sunday, 22 July 2012
Are Labour and Conservative leaders now looking to appeal to the working class?
My post from British Politics and Policy at LSE Ed Miliband has apologised for Labour’s record on immigration, although he did not make as much of a criticism of immigration as was widely assumed. Following Miliband, David Cameron spoke about ideas to reform the welfare system to make it more moral. He discussed the hazard of those who ‘work hard’ and ‘do the right thing’ not being supported as much by the welfare state as those who live carelessly and then have the state support them. The most interesting aspect of these two speeches in such quick succession is that both leaders made their appeal to the working and lower-middle classes. It might be said that they are both appealing to traditional right of centre values, but I would dispute that. It might be closer to the truth to say that they are appealing to the more selfish aspects of the working and lower-middle classes, but fundamentally it is an issue of perceived fairness. The working class has been seen as electorally marginalised in favour of middle-class swing voters, but in this both parties are appealing to the sense of fairness of those nearer the bottom. YouGov recently polled different groups on whether or not they supported Cameron’s welfare reforms (Figure 1). The polling data groups respondents into ABC1 (The top three social and economic groups in society) and C2DE (The lowest three social and economic groups in society).