What’ll slashing 500,000 public sector jobs do to the Tory vote?

What’ll slashing 500,000 public sector jobs do to the Tory vote?

Populus poll All voters Public Sector Private Sector Retired voters
CON 37 23 45 44
LAB 38 50 30 37
LD 15 17 15 10

Do people vote according to their current situation?

The above table has been produced from data from this week’s Populus poll for the Times and shows the voting intention shares broken down in terms of respondents employment sector or whether or not they are retired.

As can be seen there’s a massive gap between private and public sector workers with Labour doing particularly well and the Tories does correspondingly badly in the latter group. Other pollsters have found a similar trend but not quite on this scale.

The fieldwork took place over the weekend when the details of George Osborne’s CSR statement were still dominating the news and public sector workers were, of course, singled out.

This is not a new phenomenon. At the general election in May the Tories performed significantly less well in those seats where there was a higher proportion of public sector workers.

2010 election Change in Tory vote
Seats < 22% public sector +5.1%
Seats > 28% public sector +3.1%

This table is based on data from Denis Kavanagh’s and Philip Cowley’s The British General Election of 2010 which was published at the end of last month. The numbers are featured in a lengthy appendix by John Curtice, Stephen Fisher and Robert Ford.

So what will happen to the electoral prospects of the blues with the planned reduction of 500,000 in public sector jobs? Will their chances increase if fewer voters are on the state payroll or will there be ongoing resentment by those no longer employed.

And what about the remaining public sector workers who will see their pay curtailed and their pensions costing more – are they going to be even more anti-Tory? Quite simply what’s going to be the electoral impact of such a big change in the work-force.

My view is that people’s votes can be influenced by current self interest – so someone who has made a transition from the public to the private sector, or to retirement, might possibly be less inclined to vote Labour. If that theory is correct then lopping half a million jobs off the state pay-roll might help the blues.

Mike Smithson

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