Traditional relationships between class and voting behaviour are not what they used to be. This week’s Euro-election will, it seems, only confirm this, with Labour desperately trying to unite ‘pro-Brexit’ traditional northern working-class supporters with recent converts – the more affluent socially progressive but staunchly pro-European voters of London and the south.
Despite the excessive media speculation, there’s been little attention given to young people – the group that has fared worst since the economic downturn. It’s true that the young are not a homogeneous group, but nevertheless, post-referendum polls found over 70% of voters aged 18 to 24 had sided with Remain, compared with fewer than 40% of over-65s.
At the 2017 General Election, YouGov estimated that Labour, with its promise to end tuition fees and effective social media campaign was supported by two-thirds of first time voters (those aged 18 and 19) – but by less than a third of those 60-69 and just a fifth of those in their 70s.
There’s now a much stronger correlation between support for Labour and levels of education. The current generation of young people are the most qualified, while it’s their ‘baby boomer’ parents, who have (or at least many have) become more ‘conservative’ as they’ve got older – no longer being the ‘children of the sixties'(!) In 1987 by way of comparison, 18-24s preferred Labour to the Conservatives by just two percentage points, while over-65s preferred the Tories by 14 points (FT 20/06/17).