This morning, Zarah Sultana accused the Conservatives of attempting to suppress working class votes with the introduction of voter ID laws. According to Sultana, low income voters overwhelming vote for Labour, so any such measure would have to be a deliberate political calculation on the part of the Tories. As Michael Gove immediately pointed out, however, that just isn’t true: low income voters are now more likely to vote Conservative than Labour. Introducing voter ID laws (irrespective of the other arguments against them) would not advantage the Tories as Sultana claims.
Guido made a similar point on Twitter soon after. As YouGov data from 2017 showed, class is no longer a reliable indicator of how people vote – that year, a middle class voter was just as likely to vote Conservative as a working class voter. The political axis of the country has shifted.
Sultana was having none of it, firing back with a graph which depicts ‘working-age voters by income‘, and appears to show that most voters earning less than £29,000 vote Labour. Conveniently ignoring all voters above 65, as though everyone above that age makes millions…
She had to ignore those voters, because otherwise her argument would fall apart. An extensive report by Matthew Goodwin and Oliver Heath for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) revealed just how far Labour has drifted from its traditional working class base:
“The Conservatives are now more popular with people on low incomes than high incomes. Labour is as popular with the wealthy as with those on low incomes…Low-income voters, who have been central to driving recent political change, played a central role in putting the Conservatives into power and Labour into opposition.”
In the 2019 election, the Tories scored a 15-point lead over Labour amongst people of all ages on low incomes. In fact, they’re actually more popular with working class voters than with the wealthy. The Conservatives aren’t the party of the rich, and Labour aren’t the party of the poor.
If Labour ever want to win another election, they need to understand all this. Judging by the latest polls, they’re a long way off…