by Sean Kearns
It appears that even in Britain, where a lot of unions remain affiliated to Labour, the working class itself is less attached to Labour. The bureaucratic leaderships keep unions chained to Labour, the workers are just not so keen at all.
Also, most of the left remain auto-Labourites. They call on workers to vote Labour instead of encouraging workers to break with British capital’s mid-week team. Many also ‘talk up’ the level of working class support for the Labour Party.
However, a recent important study by the Resolution Foundation has found that while in the 1970s working class voters were three times as likely to vote Labour as to vote Tory today they are as likely to vote Tory as Labour.
The big difference seems to be centred on age group, rather than class. For instance, a 30-year-old is almost twice as likely to vote Labour as a 70-year-old.
However, support for Labour on the part of the younger demographic also needs treating with care. As the Foundation’s Torsten Bell notes, there was simply no ‘youthquake’ for Labour in the 2017 British general election. The really significant trend is “a huge gradual shift in the tectonic plates of who votes Labour”. A massively smaller percentage of the working class than in 1974, when class rather than age was the key determinant in who voted Labour.
In Scotland, a sizeable section of workers now vote for the Scottish Nationalist Party. And Labour, which for decades was the dominant political party there, is currently only the third party.
Moreover, what is the significance of the age division between Labour and Conservative Party voters across Britain? Well, people with the most experience of Labour governments are a lot less likely to vote Labour! It seems that a lot of workers just don’t have the romantic illusions – or delusions – about Labour that most of the British left entertain.