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Conservative CenturyThe Conservative Party since 1900$
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Anthony Seldon and Stuart Ball

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202387

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202387.001.0001

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Conservative Electoral Support and Social Class

Conservative Electoral Support and Social Class

(p.579) 15 Conservative Electoral Support and Social Class
Conservative Century


Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the causes of the pattern of voting in Britain that has proved so beneficial to the Conservative Party, focusing on the entangled issues of electoral support and social class. It explains how the party has managed so consistently to secure the large number of working-class votes that it needs to be successful in a general election. The chapter conducts a survey on the 25 elections that have taken place since 1900 and challenges the Marxian equation of working-class identity with socialist or even labour political sympathies. It notes that, before 1914, religious denomination was the strongest single element to colour voting decisions, but that after the First World War and the extension of the franchise in 1918, occupational class came to the fore as the factor. The chapter provides a range of explanations for the continued loyalty of much of the working class to the Conservatives.

Keywords:   voting, Britain, Conservative Party, working class, general election, Marxian equation, occupational class

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