Evaluate the factors that influenced the result of the 2010 UK general Election.
For the purpose of this essay, I will be evaluating the factors that influenced the result of the 2010 UK general election. The general election was held on Thursday 6th May 2010 and was the first election since 1974 to result in a hung parliament, as no party achieved the 326 seats needed to for an overall majority. The three main parties were the Conservatives, whose party leader was and still is David Cameron, Labour, whose party leader was Gordon Brown and the Liberal Democrats, whose party leader was and still is Nick Clegg. The party with the highest share of seats were the Conservatives, who achieved 307 seats out of a possible 650. The party with the next highest share was Labour who achieved 258 seats, and although opinion polls such as Ipsos MORI and YouGov predicted a much higher share, the Liberal Democrats actually dropped five seats and only ended up with a total of 57 seats. The other smaller parties made up the remaining 28 seats and the election produced a turnout of 65% which was a 4% rise from the previous general election held in 2005. Although the general election produced no party with an overall majority, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were able to make a deal and form a coalition government. There are many factors which influenced the results of the 2010 UK general election which can be put into three different categories: long term factors, short term factors and other factors which do not fit into the two above categories, such as the type of election. This essay will now look at which factors played the biggest influence in the 2010 general election and which factors (if any), had little or no influence. It will determine whether long term factors, such as social class, still play a role in influencing the result, or whether these factors have now in fact diminished and it is now short term factors which play the larger role in determining the outcome. This essay will start by looking at how big a role long term factors played in influencing the result of the 2010 general election. One could argue the most important long term factor was and still is social class, the Labour party being known for supporting the working class and the Conservatives being the party of the middle class. But how big a role has class de-alignment played in reducing the influence that social class now has on determining the outcome of the general election? Budge, Newton, McKay and Bartle (1998) note that social class was the biggest influence on voting behaviour between 1945 and 1970, with two-thirds of all voters supporting their supposed class party, but from 1970 onwards there has been a steady decline in this trend, and by the 2005 general election only 41% of voters voted for their supposed class party. This would suggest that although social class is still a major factor in determining voting behaviour (as a large percentage of the electorate still vote on these grounds), it is no longer the force it once was when it was ‘arguably’ the biggest factor in determining voting behaviour. Paul Richards, who was a former special advisor for the Labour party, further backs this claim as he notes in his blog that Populus found C2 (skilled workers) dramatically deserted their supposed class party of Labour in the 2010 general election, with only 22% of C2 voters voting Labour and 39% voting Conservative. This was not so much the case with DE voters (working, unemployed and benefits) though, as they did not stray to the same degree as C2 voters did, with 44% of DE voters sticking with Labour and only 28% voting for Conservatives. This would conclude that social class still plays a factor in determining voting behaviour, albeit not as much as it once did. One could argue another factor which highly influenced the result of the 2010 general election would be partisanship or party identification. Prior to 1970 a large percentage of the...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document