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Don't Forget The Middle

Don't Forget The Middle

Patrick Diamond and Charlie Cadywould

03 July 2017


This paper argues that Labour can win the next general election whenever it comes. However, to secure a decisive parliamentary majority that will sustain a Labour government in office for at least two terms, the Labour party will have to significantly expand its electoral support. Our analysis, based on an exclusive public opinion survey by Populus, indicates there are two political and electoral strategies available to Labour. The first strategy is termed the ‘Bernie Sanders’ approach of continuing to expand Labour’s vote among the professional middle-class; economically precarious younger voters; and the poorest groups on the very lowest incomes. These voters comprised the core of the 2017 Corbyn coalition.

The alternative approach we have labelled the ‘Clem Attlee’ strategy: this approach entails building support for Labour in all social grades and classes, and across the nation. The Attlee strategy means the party has to gain support among the lower and middle income voters who tend to populate ‘Communitarian Britain’, and who are less convinced about Labour’s programme and policy agenda. This voter group is defined by their struggle to ‘make ends meet’: they live on low to middle incomes and make just enough to get by through careful management of their household budget. The 64 parliamentary seats that Labour has to win next time to secure an outright majority are disproportionately populated by these voters, in the C2 social grades, who tend to earn approximately £21,000-34,000 a year. The aim should be not just to sneak past the winning post with ‘one more heave’, but to achieve a significant mandate through which Labour can transform the country for the benefit of the many not the few.

This short paper is being published in tandem with a second Policy Network paper: The Broad Church. Taken together, the papers help to frame the thinking behind our new Policy Network work stream: the Next Progressive Project for Britain, chaired by Professor Andrew Gamble. The aim of the project is to be the focal point for working towards a popular and credible platform to enable Labour and the broader centre left to build on the 2017 result and deliver a new progressive majority for Britain.



About the authors:

Patrick Diamond is co-chair of Policy Network. He is lecturer in Public Policy at Queen Mary, University of London, Gwilym Gibbon fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, and a visiting fellow in the Department of Politics at the University of Oxford.

Charlie Cadywould is a researcher at Policy Network, leading its work on the future of the left. Prior to joining, he was a researcher at Demos, authoring numerous reports on social and economic policy, as well as various analyses of public opinion and voting behaviour. He holds a BA in social and political sciences from the University of Cambridge and an MSc in public policy from University College London.

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