50 years ago 66% of our population was considered working class while today only 2% consider themselves working class. Where have they gone? They are now the Aspiring Class and it is the Conservatives, rather than Labour, who have the policies that reflect their aspiration.
13.7 million people voted Labour in 1997 and this was down to 8.6 million in 2010. Some, who thought Gordon Brown was too left wing, will have voted LibDem. Now Labour is led by someone promoted by the trade unions who has to look to them for direction of his Party. We have seen it lately in the campaign against the ‘bedroom tax’ (spare room subsidy). How many of the Aspiring Class are engaged with this scuffle over reduction in Housing Benefit over a spare room? Not that many if the number of those who were (not) marching against it in Brighton last weekend is anything to go by.
The recent‘ bedroom tax’ protest can be seen as a social contest between those who aspire to have a home, or enough rooms for their family, versus those who have state subsidised extra rooms. It doesn’t resonate with aspirant worker.
The typical Sun or Daily Mail reader, those voters Labour should court, wouldn’t feel comfortable voting for the current stance of left leaning parties. They are put off by the redistributive ideology, class and social division. Many Tory voters have come from the previous working classes and are therefore aspirational. Only 21% of of the total population believe in redistribution. Most have worked hard, often doing without, to provide for their families. Why rely on the Government to redistribute /waste their hard earned money?
An average voter mainly looks to same things to serve their needs:
- Lower taxes,
- Good state schools
- Well run NHS
- Benefits given to most in need
- Helping people to help themselves
- Reasonable immigration
- Effective policing
Many immigrant families want the same things. They are not used to relying on state hand-outs and have a strong work ethic. They are part of the new Aspiring Class and are the natural Tory voter. Some used to live in previous totalitarian Communist countries and appreciate the value of self-determination.
Younger voters under 30 are put off by the old class wars and are not bothered about immigration or equal marriage. They are more egalitarian, liberal and take these things for granted. In fact, many Tory Party new recruits are under 20. Sussex University, that hotbed of left leaning activism, has many new members in the Sussex Uni Tory Society and they are quite open about it. They have commented that there was some opposition to their views, but the fact is they feel comfortable having their right leaning views and it’s not unfashionable. This would never have happened 10 years ago. They saw the tail end of the Labour years and understand aspiration.
George Osborne reflected the needs of this Aspirant Class in the recent budget. He has appealed to the hard worker and those that want to get on under their own steam, from whatever background. The papers and media have been very positive about this budget, because they understand that we can’t change course and pay our way out of debt, we need to work for it.
Chairman, Brighton & Hove Conservatives