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The Rise of New LabourParty Policies and Voter Choices$
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Anthony F. Heath, Roger M. Jowell, and John K. Curtice

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199245116

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199245118.001.0001

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Were Traditional Labour Voters Disillusioned with New Labour?

Were Traditional Labour Voters Disillusioned with New Labour?

(p.147) 8 Were Traditional Labour Voters Disillusioned with New Labour?
The Rise of New Labour

Anthony F. Heath (Contributor Webpage)

Roger M. Jowell (Contributor Webpage)

John K. Curtice (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The central hypothesis tested in this chapter is that Labour's traditional constituency in the working class did not respond with enthusiasm to New Labour's apparent lack of concern with their interests and may have shown some reluctance to turn out and vote for the party. The authors emphasize the smallness of the changes that occurred in the patterns of abstention and strength of partisanship in 1997, but nevertheless, they find some strong hints from the data presented in the chapter that New Labour's move to the centre was, albeit in a rather modest way, responsible for muted enthusiasm among the party's traditional supporters. The analysis also suggests that the changes were specific to Labour and were not part of a general trend towards civic disengagement or political cynicism. The authors discuss the short‐term and the long‐term electoral consequences of these changes—the loss of Labour votes that this muted enthusiasm entailed would have been more than compensated by the extra votes won from the new recruits to Labour in the middle classes. In the longer term, however, this could lead to increased apathy and disengagement among the disadvantaged sectors of society and to a gradual rise in class non‐voting.

Keywords:   Abstention, apathy, civic disengagement, class non‐voting, middle classes, New Labour, strength of partisanship, the working class, Traditional Labour voters

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