Winning the middle class vote has long been seen to be the key to winning a General Election, yet both politically and economically, that demographic is in decline.
A new Pew Research study released today found the middle class in America,
“after more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority”, is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it.
The study found that the share of American adults living in middle-income houses has fallen by 11 per cent between 1971 and 2015, while the share of people in the upper-income tier rose seven per cent and the share in the lower-income tier increased six per cent from 25 per cent to 29 per cent.
This is a trend reflected across the Atlantic in Britain and Europe. Earlier this year analysis of census data by Benjamin Hennig and Danny Dorling revealed there has been a 60 per cent increase in poor households and a 33 per cent increase in wealthy households in England at a time – 1980 to 2010 – when the number of middle-income households went down by 27 per cent.
Politically that was reflected in a 2015 General Election which saw the Liberal’s middle ground being slashed as parties such as the SNP and Greens from the far left and UKIP on the right saw a surge in popularity. The resulting political hotpot has rendered the ‘middle ground’ mantra near irrelevant, and it’s high time we stop speaking of politics as if it was 1997.
Under Tony Blair Labour became a middle-class machine winning three consecutive general elections for the first time in its history. But times have changed. The economic decisions made under his stewardship have created a fractured political landscape unrecognisable to the one 20 years ago.
Would Blairite policies today win back the Scottish vote? Would it unite voters who feel alienated by the big two? Would it win over the surge of anti capitalism voters which have led to wins for Podemos in Spain and Syriza in Greece?
To all those who say Corbyn is too left to win a General Election, I say take another look at the political landscape. The times are changing.