Introduction: British Politics in Turbulent Times

  • Jonathan WheatleyEmail author


The chapter compares British politics today with the early 1970s. I argue that politics is very different today both because the main political parties are now much less rooted in social class than previously and because of a radical change in the party system in Scotland. The chapter also suggests that in 2017 the Conservatives drew from older, less well-educated voters who voted to leave the European Union, while Labour gained support from younger, better-educated, “remain” voters, bucking the earlier trend whereby Labour drew from the working classes and the Conservatives won the vote of most educated middle class professionals. I suggest that political competition is developing into a struggle between “open” and “closed” political viewpoints rather than one between “left” and “right” in the economic sense. I point to changing patterns of political competition in continental Europe, which also reveals this new trend.


Elections EU referendum Class voting Scotland 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesOxford Brookes UniversityOxfordUK

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