Assess the main factors which determine how voters discriminate between political parties at general elections
There are many factors that may affect voting behaviour; of which age, occupation, financial stability, gender, party records and place of residence are all important. However, the first, and possibly most important, is the party policies shown on the manifesto. Voters may often choose to vote instrumentally, to find the policies that suit them and their needs best. For example, an expansionary fiscal policy will often particularly appeal to those who are poorer, as they are more likely to want the Government to help create jobs and improve services so that they can gain a better grounding. Those unemployed would also find the appeal in these policies. (This would most likely be a Labour policy) ...view middle of the document...
The working class grew in affluence and they allied themselves less with Labour. New Labour responded to this by moving further right on the political spectrum, disassociating themselves with socialist, traditional Labour values. This was an ultimately successful attempt to win back people who used to support Labour; they overthrew a Conservative Government that had dominated for nearly 20 years.
The campaign prior to the election, general support, and leadership of a party can affect voting decisions. Gordon Brown in 2010 is a great example of this, as he was an unpopular Prime Minister before the election, shown by the opinion polls in which the Conservative Party dominated him for most of his term in office. He was also blamed for the economic crisis by some. During his campaign in 2010, he did start well, but after the ‘bigoted woman’ fiasco, this turned away many voters who might have voted Labour. As a result, Labour lost their position in Government to the coalition, although there were other factors to the loss. This shows how important the face of the party is before an election.
If a voter lived in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, there is the option to vote for the nationalist party. This would depend on the voters’ ideologies on the unification of Britain. However, due to the majority of British constituencies being in England, voters would know that by voting for their nationalist party in a general election, they would always be in a minority, and always have been. They would vote for their nationalist party (SNP, Plaid Cymru or Sinn Fein are the main examples) in order for their nationalism to have some sort of impact on Westminster. Place of residence also may affect voters in a different way; if a party is not being represented in a certain constituency, voters can’t vote for that party, even if that is their ideal party that matches with their personal ideologies.