Social class in the 2024 UK general election

UK election results by social class

One of my obsessions is the social-class inversion that has been visible in several countries in the 21st century, in which parties of the left draw their strongest support from highly educated, “professional” voters and those on the right appeal best to the working class. Under those circumstances, left parties will block bold economic initiatives (which would cost their voters), and right parties may offer ethno-nationalism and authoritarianism, since libertarian economic policies have little relevance to workers. This is potentially a road to fascism.

The full exit polls from yesterday's UK election do not seem to be available yet (I assume they are still embargoed for the media companies that subscribe to Ipsos' service), so I have used Ipsos' final pre-election survey as a rough substitute. The interactive graphic above lets you see each party's support by social class.

The image above this post simplifies matters by grouping the Tories and Reform as "all right," and Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, and the Scottish and Welsh nationalists as "all left."

You can see evidence here of a class inversion, but it is not as dramatic as in some 21st century elections. The Reform and Green parties illustrate the pattern best, drawing their support (respectively) from the bottom and the top of the social class structure. The Conservatives perform best at the bottom, but only by a bit. In all, the right does considerably better among semi-skilled and unskilled workers than among managers and professionals, but Labour holds its own across all categories, blurring the pattern.

I would argue that Labour must pursue policies that benefit the lowest social class category, not only for social justice but also to reverse the class inversion that threatens democracy itself.

See also: social class inversion in the 2022 US elections;  class inversion as an alternative to the polarization thesissocial class in the French election.