34% of the Public Don’t Identify With the Main Political Parties

“A report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation examined the links between public attitudes to poverty, welfare and the state of the economy using data collected as part of the British Social Attitudes survey.”

According to an article based on this report published in the Guardian today, “Just 27% of the country’s leading left-wing party voters cite social injustice as the main cause of poverty, down from 41% during the height of Thatcherism back in 1986. During the same time Labour supporters blaming the individual rose from 13% to 22%.”

As presented by the Guardian, this sounds like glum news indeed.

But while the Labour Party are the official left-wing opposition to the Tories, most normal people would hardly characterize them as being a left-wing party. In fact, as far as the working class are concerned, there is now very little political difference between the three main political parties.

This would explain why the number of people surveyed who identified with no political party increased from 8% in 1987 to 19% in 2011: a significant fact that remained unexplored by the Guardian. Moreover, even these high numbers exclude the 10% of people in 1987, and 15% of people in 2011, who stated a preference for an unnamed alternative political party other than the big three.

Could it be that some of the former left-wing supporters of the Labour Party no longer refer to themselves as supporters of this right-wing party? Might this explain some of the rightward trend apparently exhibited by Labour voters?

If the Joseph Rowntree Foundation authors or the Guardian had more progressive priorities, they would have attempted to explain these critical trends. As no doubt many left-wing voters are so disillusioned with the right-wing Labour Party that they have stopped identifying with all three of the biggest bourgeois parties.

Combined with the fact that public identification with the Conservatives dropped from 38% in 1987 to 27% in 2011, while support for the Lib Dems and Labour remained fairly stable; the suggestion seems to be that the public are searching for something new, and if given the chance may move leftwards in their politics, not towards the right as the Guardian hastily concludes.

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