Posts Tagged ‘Labour4Democracy’

Labour4Democracy – building the case for pluralism

01/10/2012, 12:30:34 PM

by Paul Blomfield

Sheffield exemplifies how UK politics is changing.  We were the first major English city to elect a Labour council, in 1926. And we stayed in power for 72 years as working class voters instinctively gave us their support. But it began to change in the 1990s, with differentiation between local and national voting.

People who continued to return Labour MPs, began to vote for Liberal Democrats in council elections until, in 1999, they took power.  Later the Greens too began to make inroads and now hold two council seats in a former Labour heartland.  But many of their supporters gave me their vote in 2010 – indeed some displayed both Labour and Green posters, indicating the different way they were voting in national and local elections.

This changing political terrain is reflected across the country.  From the 1970s party attachment and membership has declined, and class identity has changed fundamentally.

Data from the British Election Study (BES) shows that the proportion of electors identifying very strongly with a party fell from 16% to 10% in the few years between 1997 and 2005.  And those identifying as either Labour or Conservative dropped further – from 76% to 63%.  A recent YouGov poll, from June 2012, found that 34% of people voting Labour in 2010 described themselves as not very strong supporters, while the same applied to 60% of those who voted Lib Dem and 34% of Tory voters.

At the same time, issues that don’t fit the traditional left/right spectrum, like Europe and immigration, are playing a more central role in our politics.

But this de-alignment and increased support for smaller parties sits alongside a clear consensus, reflected across supporters of different parties, for the sort of radical change which will be at the heart of Labour’s future programme.  So the changing terrain may threaten the way we’ve done politics over the last 60 years, but it provides real opportunities for a Labour Party looking for radical change.

In response to this challenge, a number of us from across the party have set up “Labour4Democracy”, to promote a more pluralist approach to the way we do politics.


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