Are Tories leading because rich folks live longer?
There are two UK polls out today showing that the Tory lead over Labour has been cut – YouGov and IpsosMori. I would love to do some analysis of the Green vote from this, but national polls are fairly irrelevant for us – what happens in about 10 constituencies is what makes the difference. You can get the UK Polling Report coverage here.
The YouGov data isn’t out yet, but you can download the data from Mori. This shows another interesting trend I’ve been trying to keep an eye on for a while – how my age group is voting, and also leads me to ask the question in the title. In most age groups, Labour and the Tories are roughly equal. In the broad category of 18 – 34, Labour lead, 37% to 30%. For those who are 35-54, the Tories are on 36%, Labour on 35%: well within the margin of error. And among those who are 55 and over, the Tories are ahead by 46% to 29% – giving them their overall lead.
So far, so normal. Older people tend to be wealthier, and tend to be more socially conservative. They are more likely to vote Conservative. But Mori also give data in narrower age brackets. If we drill down a little further, the trend is mostly the same, but we find two differences I’ll look at.
At the top end, we see that, in fact, the lead among older people is only really pensioners: among the 55-64 year olds, the two parties are notionally tied (Labour, 37%, Tories 36%). The biggest Tory lead is the 75+ group – (53%-20%). This does lead to a slightly morbid conclusion: Tories are leading partly because rich people live longer. For example, professional class males can expect to live to 80, unskilled male workers to 72.7, according to ONS data released in 2007 (pdf). Labour lead the Tories among the ‘DE’ social class by 36-33%, and are only 2 points behind in the C2 grouping. But, on average, these people are not alive to be around in the 75+ category. Their Tory voting bosses are. Of course, this does not explain the whole trend, but it’s a scary thought.
The other worrying trend is the age bracket I (still, just) fall into. Tories are winning among 18-24 year olds. Although he, overwhelmingly, doesn’t get the votes of the 25-35 year olds, (Lab, 42%, Con, 25%), newer voters are stumping for Cameron by 38% to 30%. Interestingly, Lib Dems are also failing to storm ahead among my peers, with 16% of a vote they like to pretend they do well in.
There is one obvious reason for Tory success here. I’m at the top of this age bracket, and I wasn’t yet 13 in 1997. My generation don’t remember the last Tory government. I have been told by some school leavers, for example, that they are voting Tory because they are good on the environment(!!!).
But it also shows discontent with Labour. Students starting this year can expect to graduate with £23,000 of debt. Many felt victimised by the ‘respect agenda’ & ASBOs. While Labour has funded a massive increase in university education, people don’t see this. They see how much it has cost them. These, and many more, material concerns combine with the loss of the values war. We don’t remember the homophobia & downright racism of the Tories of old (and I might argue, some still today). But I left school with Rageh Omaar’s reports from shocked & awed Baghdad emblazoned in my mind. The war on terror was never the fight our generation would have chosen. And this May, millions of young people will choose to cast their vote for something – anything – that is different from a government which has saddled us with debts we can’t pay and wars we didn’t want.