Voting behaviour questions

Using the information in items A and B it is possible to come to some conclusions of the importance of class in the electorate's vote. It is even possible to see some information that would speculate that "class remains the singe most important social factor underlying the vote" (question 1). On the other side thought there is some information that would say that although class might still be very important there has been a decline in voters voting for there "natural" party.

Item A (1) shows us many things; a noticeable pattern is the number of Manual voters who vote for their natural party (the labour party). We see the highest figures in 1966 with 69% of the Manual vote going to Labour and we see the lowest figures in 1983 where only 37% of the manual vote went to Labour. In the 80's it is probable that due to the rise and consolidation of Thatcher in this period that manual labour votes declined due to Thatcher's strong hold over the working class, the reasons for this hold and why it occurred are surmount to the point that this is why the vote was low in the 80's.

However the vote by Manual voters for the Labour party has always remained quite high through most of the 1964 – 1997 periods, therefore we can attribute that natural voting is still prominent and that class remains the single most important social factor in people's voting. Item B shows that the highest votes for the Labour Party come from the DE category , the unskilled working class, and like wise the Conservative party has its highest number of votes in the AB section, the owners of Big Business, Property owners, the bourgeoisie.

This therefore shows the people still vote for the natural party and although both A and B show certain areas that show a fall in natural party voting it is easily swamped out by the more concrete information on the other side. 2a). Items A and B both hold information to hold the view that at some point over the post war period class de-alignment had taken place. Class de-alignment is the process through which people no longer associate themselves with a party based on their class, for example a middle class land owner voting Labour would be class de-alignment, the voter is no voting for his natural party according to his class.

Item A shows a period in the 80's during the Tory rule of Thatcher under which trade unions and all policies of the left such as nationalisation and minimum wage were at least severely downsized. During this period the manual vote for the Labour party fell at the manual vote for the conservative party was at its highest at 37% in 1987, in 1983 is was nearly a 50/50 split between the manual voters of Labour and Tory with Labour having 2% more at 37 than a Tory 35%. Therefore the manual voters were no longer voting for their natural Labour party in overwhelming numbers and this could be classed a period of de-alignment.

2b). The information on the 1997 election does without a doubt cast some doubts about the theory of a de-alignment at first glance yet some other factors do play a part. Item A(1) shows the highest manual vote for Labour since 1966 coming in at 60% yet most people would argue the Labour party no longer represent a party of the left due to policies such as the privatisation of virtually all public services, the donning of the title "New Labour" under Blair and quite a large inactivity with unions.

Item A (2) clearly shows a fall in the percentage of people voting for their natural party from the highest 66% in 1966 to 46% in 1997, yet this also is clouded as over the last ten years more and more people have become involved in single issue politics and no longer alignment themselves to a particular party, this is called party de-alignment, and we always have to remember that the Liberals fall somewhere in between this middle class and working class, probably swaying more towards middle yet because they are not associated with one direct class there results can sometimes distort the information.

It would be an unfair assumption to saw class de-alignment has completely gone away in the last 10 years leading up to 1997 yet some re-alignment has taken place. 3a) Item C is information on production and consumption sector cleavages. A contribution made to voting behaviour by Ivor Crewe. In place of the old class analysis of people allying themselves to their natural party Crewe suggests that the voters place in the economic structure of the country and their particular lifestyle.

Therefore using this interpretation strong Labour support would come from those who live in council provided housing, work public sector and are members of trade unions. Obviously on the other side Conservative support would come from land or home owners who work in the private sector and are not members of trade unions.

Therefore the cleavage of support is based less on class and more on the section or situation that the electorate belongs to within the population. 3c). The modal proposed by Crewe is to some degree still valid today, because it is quite complex although people understand the model they do not necessarily understand the outcome of changes within situations and how this affects the model and visa versa.

In "Neil McNaughtans Success in Politics" McNaughton proposed that Crewe's analysis is still valid due to the sweeping reform in the Labour party. He proposes that due to the fact that the traditional Labour party's votes came from typical labour supporters the party was subject to doom due to a decline in these types of people (the process of embourgeoisemnt where by living standards improve and wages increase in a "real" sense).

I personally do not particularly agree with McNaughton's analysis of the reasons for a reform in the labour party, in fact items A and B prove him wrong in the sense that after Thatcher the manual vote for Labour began to rise again before the creation of Blair's term "New Labour", but in one sense one could say that the reforms within the Labour Party begun a long time before Blair renamed the party "New Labour", it is possible and very true to argue that "New Labour" existed long before that.

However I propose that due to centralised politics across the globe the Labour and Conservative party would always consolidate its more left and right policies ,respectively, and move into the centre, I do not agree that this process took place due to a fall in the physical embodiment of the working class. McNaughton fails to account for the fall in the middle-class Conservative support that occurred during the 1979 – 1922 periods. In conclusion of the validity of these sector cleavages I would say to some degree they are still valid but the level of this validity is up for debate.