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Political mindsets

Low-income voters, the 2019 General Election and the future of British politics

This report looks at the effect of low-income voters on the 2019 UK General Election, and how their motivations and concerns affected their choices.

Written by:
Matthew Goodwin and Oliver Heath
Date published:

It explains Labour’s defeat, the Conservative breakthrough in many traditional Labour areas, and what this reveals about British politics. Key to understanding this are the people struggling to stay afloat on lower than average incomes. Current economic and societal impacts of COVID-19 mean all political parties need to keep the focus of debate on this pivotal group.

Key points and recommendations

  • Low-income workers, central to driving recent political change, are being affected the hardest by the COVID-19 crisis. Different social groups will have fundamentally different experiences of this crisis, and that may have profound political effects.
  • The Conservatives are now more popular with people on low incomes than high incomes. Labour is as popular with the wealthy as with those on low incomes.
  • Labour urgently need to revive their offer, particularly in light of the effect COVID-19 is having on low-income voters. They should reconnect with these voters not only through economic policies, but also by tapping into concerns about Britain’s place in the world, immigration, law-and-order and rapid social change.
  • The Conservative call to ‘level-up’ the nation and redistribute resources away from London to the regions, combined with support for Brexit, won many traditional Labour voters; but they’ll need to work hard to retain that support.
Ballot papers being counted during an election.

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