Until Conservative government in the 1980s heightened the
Until the 1970s, people allowed their voting behaviour to be heavily influenced by the class in which they belonged. Working class people who earned a living from manual labour usually voted Labour as it was closely linked to the Trade Unions and generally reflected the interests and protected those working in traditional heavy industry. Business people, white-collar and non-manual workers and property owners; all members of the middle class were more inclined to vote for the Conservative party. Class voting is the practice of voting for a particular party that best suits, serves and protects the interests of a specific social class. In the later part of the 20th century, signs of class dealignment were apparent, particularly with the victory of Blair’s New Labour government in 1997. Though class dealignment had existed previously, with many members of the middle class who worked in the state sector (teachers, social workers etc.) and many university intellectuals voting for the Labour party and many patriotic and deferential members of the working class voting for the Conservatives, the late-1970s to the 1990s was when class dealignment became more common and the class traditional class system began to decay. Over the years, society in general has become more prosperous; working-class people began to strive for the middle-class way of life. The sale of council houses to their tenants under Thatcher’s Conservative government in the 1980s heightened the number of property owners and Conservative voters in the United Kingdom, one of the reasons why Thatcher’s government lasted for a whopping eleven years. The decline of heavy industry and increasing privatisation reduced trade union power and the size of the public sector and in turn, support for the Labour party. The Labour only came back into government in 1997 under Tony Blair.There is debate regarding the extent to which social class is the most significant factor that influences voting behaviour and although evidence suggests that social class as a factor is becoming less important, social class is either closely related or is an underlying factor in relation to other major factors like; ethnicity, region etc. Though one may argue that class devolution has hindered the influence of one’s class over the individual, class is important when determining the overall voting patterns.