17th October 2017

Last month we were delighted to welcome Professor John Curtice, Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde, and Senior Research Fellow at NatCen Social Research, for the latest in our series of #LutherNetwork events.

John started proceedings by looking at how attitudes towards Brexit were reflected in how people voted in the 2017 General Election, an election that Prime Minister Theresa May precipitated in order to secure a mandate for her vision of the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

John took the guests through a feast of fascinating data showing how divisions between Remain and Leave voters intensified during the election campaign, and translated into a hung parliament. Although the Conservatives gained support amongst Leave voters, they lost ground amongst Remain supporters. Labour, in contrast, advanced disproportionately amongst those who voted Remain.  Equally, the Conservatives won votes amongst those who prioritised controlling immigration over access to the single market and those most concerned about the cultural consequences of immigration, while Labour did rather better amongst those of the opposite view.


These trends were a key reason, along with attitudes towards grammar schools and tuition fees, why younger voters swung towards Labour while older voters moved towards the Conservatives. Age is now bigger electoral divide in Britain than social class. At the same time the debate about Brexit also helped ensure that the Conservatives lost the graduate vote in the recent election.

John finished by suggesting that Labour’s central problem at the moment is how to balance the votes of its young, metropolitan, university educated and liberal electorate (the main reason for Labour’s electoral gain) and its more traditional, working-class vote, who largely voted to ‘leave.’ The Conservatives, on the other hand, have a tension between their traditional paymasters in business who want to see a ‘soft’ Brexit, retaining as much single market access as possible, and their voters, who are primarily interested in controlling immigration. John finished by saying that, intriguingly, the Labour party now seems in many respects to reflect the views of big-business more closely than do the Conservatives.

Our thanks go to John and our guests for joining us.

The next #LutherNetwork event will be with Ian King, Business Presenter, Sky News, on the 29th November 2017.

If you would like to find out more about Luther Network events, including information on how to attend, please email events@luther.co.uk