Friday, May 23, 2008

Telegraph Column: Hanging on to the C2 Vote

My Telegraph column today looks at how the C2 vote is turning to the Conservatives and why. Here's how it starts...

"I've always voted Labour, but..." is a phrase I hadn't heard from voters on the doorstep for more than 20 years. But these words have been heard increasingly in recent weeks, especially on the doorsteps of Crewe and Nantwich.

When I lost my political virginity as a canvasser in the early 1980s, I heard it a lot, mostly from those living in council houses which Margaret Thatcher had enabled them to buy. Lifelong Labour supporters were realising that the Tories were giving them a chance to fulfil their aspirations.

Come 1997, Tony Blair appeared to be doing the same and so the same large group of voters - often referred to as C2s by sociologists - transferred their affections to him.

The fact that the Tories are now enjoying a 15 to 20 point lead in the opinion polls suggests that the C2s are returning to them in droves. If they weren't, it would be more or less impossible for David Cameron to attain the 43-45 per cent support that he now enjoys.

That's the good news. But where there is good news, a few clouds of bad are never far away.

The reasons for the shift of so-called Essex Man's and Worcester Woman's affections seem to reflect a growing anti-Labour feeling rather than a positive enthusiasm for the Tories. Does this matter? Well, yes: this support can evaporate just as soon as it arrived. The electorate is volatile and less tribal - and will transfer its affections at the drop of a hat.

The lesson for the Tories is that once you have attracted extra support, you must fight hard to retain it.

The boost in party fortunes is at least 80 per cent due to the lamentable performance of the Prime Minister and his government. What Mr Cameron needs to do over the next six months is fight to the political death to entrench the support of the C2s.

His speech earlier this week on "good housekeeping" and lower taxes sounded like a first salvo in the ground war.

His words reflected the anger out there over the rising cost of living, rising taxation and government waste. He used pseudo-Thatcherite language about "living within your means" to address voters directly who didn't realise he spoke their kind of language.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

12 comments:

Stuart said...

I'm afraid I disagree somewhat with your sentiment - giving voters a positive reason to vote Conservative is a good and valid thing to do, but as you say yourself: Moving over to the other side will only ever be a matter of faith for the electorate, up until the Conservatives are in power and actually helping people. Those people you talk about in the 80s were moving to Thatcher because she had already done things to help them

You can't woo people over with policy wordings, you have to win them on faith. It's only once you are in government and able to start acting on your promises and showing that you are worthy of that trust that the next group of supporters will appear. So, no. I think Worcester Woman and Essex Man will be perfectly fine where they are, at least until after David Cameron can win an election and start showing them why he's better than the other guys, instead of just telling them and hoping they believe him.

wonderfulforhisage said...

Spot on Iain.

And......I've always voted Tory but it will be UKIP next time.

Cameron is just a socialised Brown and Brown a Socialised Cameron.

C&N Say Cobblers To Labour said...

The brand muddying perpetrated by the BBC and others from mid 1996 onwards is wearing off.It's taken 10 years but the perpetual failure of Labour tax-and-spend is laid bare once more.WHERE HAS ALL THE MONEY GONE!? All Liebour had to offer was name-calling.Sort of gives the lie to the 'respect agenda'?? Socialism is dead but those of us ever vigilant by the grave side keep a firm grasp on our stakes.How many £billions have been stolen from our children?

Chris Paul said...

I'm with Stuart. Do you even know what C2 means Iain? "Often referred to as C2s by sociologists" Eh? This very broad classification includes all sorts of people and is by no means the lumpen mass that you seem to feel.

Have you looked at say the MRS handbook or other source book on occupations?

But whatever there is NO EVIDENCE. What you have is a SUGGESTION that this may be the case.

From my point of view there is reason to believe (but not know) that this hopefully temporary mid-term protest shift to Tories is across the whole ABC1C2DE gamut in a fairly even way.

Which is more fundamental, more interesting, and importantly for socialists within the Labour party, far less susceptible to triangulation than you would have it.

You're welcome to triangulation by the way. It has run its course for Labour. Wrung dry.

One cannot even say that the Ds or Es can be discounted as these do include groups that DO turn out in good numbers.

Peter Kelner's analysis on Sky this morning has been far more reasonable, balanced and informative. Even Nick bloody Robinson's analysis is. There has been a history of bad by-election results for incumbents down the years. Some much worse than this. Some leading to GE victory for insurgents. Some not.

You really have nothing to base this piece on. It's basically just made up speculation isn't it?

Chris Paul said...

PS In fact this piece is a load of old cobblers Iain (C2s by the way, unless they own the firm)

disgusted said...

Great article. The Labour slogan "on your side" didn't work in Crewe & Nantwich. If it needs any encouragement, just run some profiles on the personal finances on those on our side.

Four legs good, two legs better

Auntie Flo' said...

"The reasons for the shift of so-called Essex Man's and Worcester Woman's affections seem to reflect a growing anti-Labour feeling rather than a positive enthusiasm for the Tories. Does this matter? Well, yes: this support can evaporate just as soon as it arrived." (Telegraph)


Wake up, Telegraph, it's the 21st century. Shell suits and wicker baskets are no more.

21st century women has been forced out of the home by nulab to join the workforce en masse. We come home exhausted to house husband and collapse in front of our PC and TV just as the blokes do. And we love Cameron's charismatic presence and easy going confidence.

Now its Worcester man and Essex woman who are the political force to reckon with.

Yes, our allegiance is more volatile and can evaporate, Telegraph got that right. However, what they've failed to grasp is that our support already has - reluctantly - evaporated, some months back, when Cameron became painfully and icily managerial and arrogant and horribly nulabesque.

However, Cameron, like the 21st century man he is, learned his lesson sharpish, shrank his newly enlarged head, began to drop the PC apparatchik-speak and distinguished himself from the nulab dictatorship we detest.

He signalled the change to his Essex woman fans when he dropped that over-sculptured, apparatchiked hairstyle hair and reverted back to his initial, easy going style.

That's why Essex woman and disaffected Lib dems, myself included, flocked back to Cameron in droves.

Auntie Flo' said...

Essex woman, Cheshire woman and Worcester man will not flock back to nulab or the Lib Dems as long as Cameron stays on 21st century message and nulab stays off it.

Broon and nulab are off message for the quarter century.

Nulab are a dead parrot because the sort of changes the majority of us want - a sound economy and healthy communties, freedom and democracy, politicians who listen and respond to our views as opposed to cementing themselves, and us, inside their own hegemonic, 1984 world of totalitarian control - is politically, constitutionally and psychologically beyond them.

Anonymous said...

"He signalled the change to his Essex woman fans when he dropped that over-sculptured, apparatchiked hairstyle hair and reverted back to his initial, easy going style"

That was a bit of luck for him then. I heard he'd become more 'pleasant' because he was warned that his punch/judy was repelling the public, and he'd changed his hairstyle because he's goung bald.
I've heard of that thoughtful constituency called the 'don't knows', but to be convinced by a hairstyle sinks to a new low. Talk about being suckered.

Auntie Flo' said...

Anon 4.23PM said,

"to be convinced by a hairstyle sinks to a new low. Talk about being suckered"


Read what I wrote again, there's a good little person.
To help you, here it is:

However, Cameron, like the 21st century man he is, learned his lesson sharpish, shrank his newly enlarged head, began to drop the PC apparatchik-speak and distinguished himself from the nulab dictatorship we detest.

He signalled the change to his Essex woman fans when he dropped that over-sculptured, apparatchiked hairstyle


Nothing there to suggest that I'm claiming anyone votes for Cameron because of his reversion to a more laid back hair style. What I am suggesting is that the the hair style change "signalled" the other changes.

You're the one who has been sucker, anon.

Anonymous said...

I've got a degree in sociology and I've never once heard a sociologist use the term C2. The term is working class.

Auntie Flo' said...

Anonymous said...
I've got a degree in sociology and I've never once heard a sociologist use the term C2. The term is working class.


Ah, well, that's because, like me, you're a much reviled sociologist.

Before I sat my politics exam I was warned to avoid cross referencing sociological data and concepts at all costs. First because sociology is deemed so damn useless and, second, because everyone except sociologists themselves hates sociology and its analytical tools.