Writing in today’s Telegraph, Ed West points to some important voting trends which have been developing over decades.
Hard though it is to believe, London was once a Conservative stronghold from 1979 until 1992, its economic boom underpinning Tory support even as the rest of the country reeled from recession.
Since then the rise of social as well as economic liberalism has dealt a devastating blow to small as well as large ‘c’ conservative-inclined voters in London.
The story rings true in the larger cities more generally and according to the writer may well be down to the nature of urbanisation itself:
“It is associated with traits adapted to city living: higher levels of trust and a wider circle of trust towards strangers and outgroup members, greater innovation and invention, helped by the agglomeration effect, more sexual adventurousness and promiscuous behaviour, lower religiosity, lower fertility, and also higher levels of mental illness (liberals and city dwellers are both more likely to suffer psychological problems).”
By contrast, one of the defining traits of Conservative voters is whether or not they own a car – championed historically as a symbol of autonomy and self-sufficiency – but of little relevance to millions of city dwellers entirely reliant upon public transport. Many who vote Conservative have either left or deliberately choose to live outside the main conurbations.
“But just as liberalism is a product of urbanisation, perhaps modern progressivism, including its often abrasive intolerance for other opinions, is also a result of extreme urbanisation. While 27 per cent of Americans in 1976 lived in counties with at least a 20-point margin of victory for one candidate, in 2016 a full 60 per cent did. In Britain the percentage of safe seats increased by 50 per cent from 2015 to 2017. More safe seats means more extreme politicians, but also more intolerant populations.
It may also explain the lop-sided nature of the news coverage by our national media,
"with outlets overwhelmingly staffed and based in big cities. The density issue is partly why so many people were shocked by the Brexit result – because half a million voters live in postcodes where 90 per cent of people voted Remain (and a large number of those will be in the media).”
The full article can be read here with a link to the original beneath it:
Labour celebrates in Wandsworth (REUTERS)