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New poll shows Labour has biggest pool of potential voters, but electoral mountain still to climb

UK politics

Published date:  25 Sep 2011

Of all three parties, lowest proportion of voters say they would ‘never’ vote Labour

 

Labour can fish in the biggest voter pool of allthe three main parties, according to new YouGov polling published by the think tank IPPR today. It shows voters have their ears open but that Labour still has a mountain to climb to rebuild its successful electoral coalition of the past.

 

The poll shows the potential pool of voters that Labour could attract is 70 per cent, compared with 64 per cent for the Lib Dems and just 58 per cent for the Conservatives. The polling also shows that Labour now has the fewest voters out of reach of the major parties, with just 30 per cent of voters saying they would ‘never’ vote Labour, while 36 per cent say they would never vote Lib Dem and 42 per cent say they would never vote Conservative.

 

Of those who voted Lib Dem at the last election, 50 per cent say they would never vote Conservative but just 23 per cent say they would never vote Labour. Of those who voted Conservative at the last election, 61 per cent say they would never vote Labour but just 42 per cent say they would never vote Lib Dem. Voters who say they are core supporters and will always vote for the same party are:

  • 24 per cent Labour
  • 19 per cent Conservative
  • 5 per cent Lib Dem

 

For Labour, the good news is that the only demographic groups where less than 60 per cent of voters are in play are in the South of England. The poll shows Labour’s potential strengths are among C1s and C2s, across both genders and among working age voters (aged 18-39). But the bad news is that the poll exposes Labour’s weakness among ABC1s and the over 60s.

For the Conservatives, the poll shows the considerable strength of support the party has in the South East, among ABC1s, and among the over 60s. But it shows continued weaknesses outside of these key electoral strogholds.

For the Lib Dems, just 5 per cent of voters are core supporters but 64 per cent of the country could be persuaded to vote Lib Dem. Men, the over 60s, C2Des and voters in Scotland are most out of reach but the Lib Dems remain competitive with the Conservatives in the South and among ABC1s.

 

Social Class

The new polling shows that Labour has the potential for cross-class appeal. Among C2 voters, Labour is now the least toxic party, with just 29 per cent saying they would never vote Labour, while 42 per cent of C2s say they would never vote Lib Dem and 47 per cent say they would never vote Conservative.

 

Age

The new polling also shows more young voters (aged 18-24) are potential voters that Labour could attract, with just 21 per cent saying they would never vote Labour, compared with 31 per cent of young voters who say they would never vote Lib Dem and 42 per cent who say they would never vote Conservative. But Labour is weakest among over 60s, who are the most likely people to actually vote.

 

North/South

While Labour support is often considered weak in the South of England, the new poll shows that Labour’s weakness in the South is not as bad as the Conservatives’ in the North and in Scotland. While 40 per cent of voters in the South say they would never vote Labour, 49 per cent in the North and 57 per cent in Scotland say they would never vote Conservative. In London, just over a third of voters say they would never vote for each party (34 per cent Labour, 35 per cent Conservative and 37 per cent Lib Dem).

 

Values

IPPR’s report on voter values and the changing political landscape – Still partying like it’s 1995 – groups voters into three values groups:
Settlers – strong views ofright and wrong, wary of change, seeking security.
Pioneers –networked, ethical, seeking self-fulfilment.
Prospectors -seeking success, status, esteem of others.

IPPR analysis of voter values in the new poll shows the limits of a purely ‘Blue Labour’ approach that focuses on ‘settlers’. While the proportion of voters classified as ‘settlers’ has increased to 42 per cent (up from 31 per cent in 2008), almost half of them say they would never vote Labour.

The poll also shows 40 per cent of ‘pioneers’ say they would never vote Conservative, raising questions about how they party will get enough voters to secure a Parliamentary majority and giving a dilemma to Conservative modernisers.

By contrast, the Lib Dems are polling strongly among ‘prospectors’ but badly with ‘settlers’.

The final values group ‘prospectors’ make their minds up late so are not important voters for any of the parties at this stage in the electoral cycle.

 

Nick Pearce, IPPR Director, said:

“Labour still has a mountain to climb and a huge task to recover its economic credibility, on which its electoral prospects rest above all else. But this polling shows that Labour is not so damaged that it has lost the potential to be a popular, truly national party, with appeal across the social classes.

 

“Party loyalty continues to decline and voting patterns are becoming ever more volatile. This poses political parties with the task of building alliances across the country among voters with different values. That is a much more demanding task than identifying the latest ‘Worcester Women’ or ‘Mondeo Man’ to target with micro-offers.

 

“The risk for the centre left across Europe is being identified with electoral enclaves, whether in the public sector or a cosmopolitan elite, immigrants or those on benefits. A new centre left majority must pitch to those that now dominate the electorate – over 50s, private sector workers, homeowners – while reaching into growing groups, like graduates, professionals, ethnic minorities, renters and female, part-time service workers. There are many more swing voters, though not all are middle class. Working class voters are vital, though not all want a liberal-left politics.”

 

Notes to Editors

IPPR’s report on the changing political landscape – Still partying like it’s 1995 – is available from:http://www.ippr.org/publications/55/7983/still-partying-like-its-1995

 

The report shows:

  • The labour market is ‘polarising’ with growth in professional/managerial occupations as well as in lower level service sector employment, alongside a ‘hollowing out’ of mid-skill manual and administrative jobs.
  • The living standards of working people are stagnating as the share of national wealth going to low and middle earners declines and average wages flatten, having failed to keep pace with rising productivity or prices.
  • A divide is emerging around the age at which women partner and parent, against the backdrop of a continuing rise in non-traditional family forms and a plateau in rates of female employment.
  • The expansion of higher education is raising the qualifications of those entering the labour market and increasing the proportion of graduates in society. But there remains a core without qualifications, including many low skilled (male) youth.
  • The higher flow of migrants coming to visit or settle in Britain, and numbers leaving to go abroad is contributing to greater ethnic and cultural diversity and a more fluid population.
  • Older people are the fastest growing demographicgroup, divided between ‘affluent actives’ and those less independent. The number of under-25s is set to decline, though offset by recent rises in the birth rate.
  • The rise in home ownership has slowed, including a big decline among under-30s. The numbers privately renting have grown, while levels of social renting have stabilised.
  • Mental illness and chronic conditions areincreasingly the main drivers of poor health and disability, while ‘lifestyle’ related problems have risen significantly.
  • Voting behaviour is becoming more volatile asloyalty to political parties declines. However, other forms of civic and political participation are holding up, though finding new avenues of expression.
  • The rapid spread of the internet, digital technology and social media is providing new avenues for political engagement and expression.
  • Society has becomemore tolerant and socially liberal, alongside resilience in aspects of culturally conservative sentiment, like the importance of recognition and roots.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 2,474 adults and fieldwork was undertaken between 15th and 16th September 2011. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+)

 

The survey was conducted using an online interview of administered members of the YouGov Plc GB panel of 185,000+ individuals who have agreed to take part in surveys. An email was sent to panellists selected at random from the base sample according to the sample definition, inviting them to take part in the survey and providing a link to the survey. (The sample definition could be "GB adult population" or a subset such as "GB adult females"). YouGov Plc normally achieves a response rate of between 35 per cent and 50 per cent to surveys however this does vary dependent upon the subject matter, complexity and length of the questionnaire. The responding sample is weighted to the profile of the sample definition to provide a representative reporting sample. The profile is normally derived from census data or, if not available from the census, from industry accepted data.

 

Contacts:

Richard Darlington: 07525 481 602 /r.darlington@ippr.org