UKIP’s voters – older, more male and more working class. But especially older.

YouGov have produced a wonderful composite of all their February 2013 polling to try and give a realistic picture of which bits of the electorate are behind UKIP’s polling surge into double figures , a trend which was clear well before the party pushed the Tories into third place in the Eastleigh by-election last week. There are reasons why one needs to be slightly cautious about polling composites, but with 28,944 total respondents and 2788 UKIP supporting respondents, this is a significant piece of opinion research.

I was alerted to it by a good analysis piece Jonathan Jones put on the Spectator blog yesterday. I don’t particularly disagree with anything that Jonathan wrote in that piece, although I think I come to a slightly different set of conclusions than he has.

The biggest variation from the general population characteristic of UKIP voters in YouGov’s surveys is that they are more likely than average – much more likely than average – to be old. While 38% of the electorate is aged between 18 and 40, only 15% of UKIP’s voters are young. On the other hand, UKIP voters are more than twice as likely as the general population to be over 60 (48% as opposed to 28%). YouGov hasn’t drilled down further into this oldest age cohort, and if they did I suspect we would find the concentration of UKIP voters got even higher among over 70s and then over 80s.

I think that explains something Jonathan Jones thought was significant, but I don’t think is – the high proportion of UKIP voters who left school before they turned 17. I think this can pretty much be entirely explained by the tendency for people to stay in education much longer in the past 30 years or so than in the past. While just 12% of the electorate left school at 15 or under, something that could only have happened before the school leaving age was raised in the 1970s, fully 22% of UKIP voters did. I think the older age profile also largely explains the fact that UKIP voters are more likely than average (59% as opposed to 50%) to identify with a particular religion.

Apart from age, the next most dramatic trend – although it is relatively tame in comparison to the age effect – is that around 57% of UKIP voters are men. This isn’t as dramatic as the gender bias of people who supported parties of the traditional far-right during their surges of support in the past, and to be honest it isn’t much of a surprise. Although in the good old days of mass trade union socialism, men tended to lean more to the left than women, this has reversed in most established democracies over the past generation as the basis of centre-left politics has changed, and Britain has been no exception.  In any case, it’s not an overwhelming lean – there are plenty of women currently intending to vote UKIP.

I was surprised to see that UKIP voters are slightly more likely to be working class than the population in general. I had expected to see some concentration of UKIP support in the C1 and C2 social classes. This isn’t a dramatic effect, with at most a 4% variation from the national average in any social class, but the gradient is a simple rise in support with falling social class.

Combined with the information on housing tenure, we start to get quite an interesting picture of which social groups are most likely to vote UKIP. There is a very high proportion of UKIP supporters who own their homes outright (11% above the national average) which again reflects the age profile of UKIP support, but the one thing that is interesting is that the proportion living in social housing is only average. Given the slight working-class lean of their support, we would expect that proportion to be at least a little higher than average, all other things being equal. UKIP’s voters, on average, are slightly lower earners than even Labour supporters, although again this probably reflects the fact that a much higher proportion than the overall population are living on a pension rather than earnings from work.

So what sort of portrait are we getting of the average UKIP supporter – older, probably not especially well off, probably not university educated, slightly more likely than average to be a working-class man, probably owning his home outright and living on a pension and some modest savings. Although YouGov didn’t produce figures for this demographic, he is almost certainly white.

60% of UKIP supporters voted Tory at the last general election, compared to only 22% who voted Labour or LibDem. In the main, these are classic, older, working-class or lower middle-class Tory voters, and probably very reliable voters given that older people in general are. This paints a worrying picture for Conservatives.

Cameron has already offered these voters an in-out referendum on EU membership if he wins the next General Election; he’s already taking a fairly abrasive line in EU summits as of now, despite being in a coalition with the Europhile LibDems. There probably isn’t much more he can offer them on Europe.

Undoubtedly, cultural alienation is a big part of these voters’ defection from the Tories. These voters grew up in a Britain that was, outside major metropolitan areas, entirely white and many of them are old enough to have grown up in an era when even core cities had not been touched by the Windrush generation of immigrants. Gay marriage is another issue – support for marriage equality, drops dramatically among older men, especially older men whose politics lean to the right. However, moving to the right on immigration and sexual politics could well alienate younger voters, who often had voted Labour pre-2010 and could easily defect back, or to the LibDems whose participation in the coalition might make them a soft option for younger centre-right voters. There is no easy answer for Tories being outflanked on both sides.

Economic factors are often ignored in the defection of Tory voters to UKIP. This is a mistake in my view. As I noted, many of UKIP’s supporters will be living on a modest pension and modest savings. Inflation has been high in recent years and particularly concentrated in core items of household expenditure such as food, fuel, and heating, even as the price of electronic gizmos has fallen. Savings rates have been abysmal for years. The Tories are simply not delivering economically for many of these voters and as Labour did not better for them, the logic of their defection to UKIP is obvious.

Jonathan Jones noted that by three-to-one these voters still prefer a Tory-led government to a Labour one, and the Tories must hope they can put the tactical squeeze on them as the next General Election approaches. Buried in the report, however, are other figures that must be even more worrying for Conservatives: there has been little movement between the two main parties since the last General Election, but almost a quarter of current Labour supporters voted LibDem in 2010. That alone will deliver Labour dozens of gains, even without any swing away from the Tories, either to them or to UKIP.

YouGov didn’t, unfortunately, provide any regional breakdown of party support. If UKIP’s surge is heavily concentrated in the South and East, the potential gains for Labour are less, although far from non-existent. If, on the other hand, it is significant in the North and Midlands, coupled with defection from the LibDems and Labour, it could result in carnage for the Tories in the suburbs and large towns of Yorkshire and the Midlands, although it probably will see UKIP falling well short of gaining parliamentary seats.

On the other hand, if UKIP’s surge is concentrated in the South, there are potential gains for the party even at parliamentary level – there are many seats on the South and East coast with very high proportions of older voters, very culturally conservative, almost entirely white, and with few people in social housing but equally few people on high incomes. In most of these places, Labour is not a credible threat and the LibDems have been going backwards since the early 1990s, minimising any Tory appeal to tactical voting.

UKIP remains hampered by a lack of constituency level organisation or candidates selected and well dug in, buoyed almost entirely by Nigel Farage’s larger than life personality. As Eastleigh showed, however, they do have people who can learn how to be effective parliamentary candidates fast.

, , ,

  • Coll Ciotach

    Who vote?

  • BarneyT

    I’ll just jump in with the first question I had…I still have to read the remainder of your post…

    Why were surprised to see that UKIP voters are slightly more likely to be working class than the population in general?

  • BarneyT

    I may be a bit vague on general election matter in GB, as its been a while since I voted over there, but I dont recall
    any kind of transferrable vote or a submission of preference.

    Therefore how can this be true:
    60% of UKIP supporters voted Tory at the last general election, compared to only 22% who voted Labour or LibDem

    Presumably you mean, within consituencies not offering a UKIP candidate, this is how they would have voted. I this is the case, how can this be measured?

    Clearly I am missing something as a) a UKIP supporter would vote UKIP and b) if they didnt, how could they be determined to be a UKIP supporter.

    Maybe I need more sleep 🙂

  • Barney – This how people who say they currently would vote UKIP actually voted in the last general election (only 12% of UKIP’s current supporters voted for it in 2010).

    UKIP lean well to the right economically, as does a plurality of its voters (see the Spectator piece) and their best results have traditionally come in constituencies with heavy concentrations of C1 and C2s rather than DEs.

  • I wonder if in this particular case the statistics themselves do not reveal as much as intensive interviews with say one hundred UKIP voters.
    It would take the guesswork out.
    A declaration of interest…I am almost 61 and have voted in just 95% of all types of election since June 1970….voting almost 43 years and this means that many of the UKIP voters have been voting longer than I have. And I emphasise that these people tend to VOTE. As a general rule they don’t abstain…..they don’t just look on voting as a chore. They don’t see it merely as a right….they tend to see it as a civic duty.

    I wonder if there are any stats on tactical voting. Is there any evidence the old vote more honestly than the young. Do they vote FOR rather than AGAINST something? Again I can only speak for myself ….I have never voted tactically. I have never voted to keep someone out. And never vote beyond a Party/Parties I support in PR….choosing people I dislike least.
    Are older people less nuanced? Or more nuanced?
    Pqradoxically if I lived in England I’d probabably be tempted to vote UKIP.
    Possibly out of sheer awkwardness. UKIP strike me as “awkward” . Maybe older people are more awkward. UKIP strike me as being at war with the modern world and I think that resonates as much with working class as middle class. And with lefties as much as right wingers.
    An over 60 who can change the batteries in the TV remote control….is not liKely to vote for Nigel Farage. On the other hand those of us who refuse to read instruction manuals for our new TV are probably not very different from Nigel.
    Indeed a series of questions to UKIP voters might reveal more than their actual age?
    What do they think of online banking? Against it.
    Alcohol in supermarkets?
    Ban on smoking indoors?
    The Common Market….obviously.
    Migration…..obviously.
    The marginalization of Trade Unions?
    The exploitation of young people in temporary employment?
    Bankers?
    Health Service?
    Nursing Care for elderly?

    These people have liveD long enough to see that their children and grandchildren in a world with lower living standards than they expected. THey are not likely to blame themselves for voting Tory or Labour….but rather blame the parties and punish “all of the above”.
    And I suspect that older voters have a fondness for real politicians….Attlee, Churchill, Eden, McMillan, Home, Wilson, Callaghan…..than they have for the army of professional cloned politicians like Blair, Brown, Callaghan and Milliband.

    We get the politicians we deserve.
    We get the voters we deserve.

  • Otto

    So was the cloned Callaghan actually cloned from the real Callaghan?

  • Seemingly the second Callaghan was cloned by Auto Correct. And should of course be Cameron.

  • BarneyT

    Only 12% of UKIP’s current supporters voted for it in 2010? Is that not similar to suggesting that Man Utd supporters follow Liverpool?

    Is there no such thing as a hardcore UKIP voter? Dyed in the wool Labourites stay put on principle and perhaps voted for them during the Foote and Blair years (which is a contradiction I know). Torys generally opt for their own party. Clearly there is a lot of middle ground and curiously many in GB can switch from conservative to labour and back again (I expect Blair again made this possible)

    I am not getting the reason behind the reluctance of the UKIP supports (88%) to vote UKIP. Cold feet? Perhaps as suggested above they indicated they would vote UKIP during an awkward moment and then reverted to type and safe ground when it mattered.

    This suggestst that is these would-be UKIPPERS developed a backbone, the Torys are in for a massive defeat…as they are most likely to be affected.

    I found living in England that those who immediately latch on to lines such as, “The foreigners are taking our jobs”, or “we’ve opened the flood gates”… without reason…. talk of voting UKIP. If the truth be told they would like to vote for the BNP and go full-facist rather than UKIP crypto-facist.

    I see the main migration to UKIP coming mostly from those that vote Tory as at time you can put a fag packet between them. They might draw some votes from the working class communities who traditionally have gone with Labour.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Victor Meldrew.

    PS. FJH you certainly threw me by saying you don’t transfer down, I’m the opposite, always think tactically and will normally go the whole way down.

  • DR,
    I was trying to avoid Victor Meldrew references.
    Mrs FJH refers to my 50s as being the Victor Meldrew years. And actually she’s right. I look on those as angry years. Certainly there’s a stage beyond Victor Meldrew….we all get to outlive our fears. If your mortgage is paid off, you can’t lose your house. If you’re retired, you can’t lose a job.
    And they will have to take my free bus pass out of cold dead hand.
    Indeed as a pensioner, I am the person politicians fear.

    And I’m surprised that you didn’t know I don’t vote thru the ballot paper. I have often said it. I’m a nationalist living in a constituency with a 2:4 split between nationalists and unionists. Therefore I simply vote 1SDLP ….2SF…..3SF….and stop.
    I don’t think I should influence the choice of unionists for their four.
    I’d really just be voting AGAINST people rather than FOR people.

  • Barry the Blender

    I’m a nationalist living in a constituency with a 2:4 split between nationalists and unionists. Therefore I simply vote 1SDLP ….2SF…..3SF….and stop.

    I would guess that means you vote in Upper Bann. Do you not chuck the Alliance a 4 (&5)?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Of course he doesn’t. FJH is a traditional nationalist.

  • Yes I live in Upper Bann.
    I’m a traditional nationalist/republican/socialist/civil righter.
    SDLP ticks all those boxes.
    SF ticks three.
    The others tick no boxes. I wouldn’t give Alliance any vote. Never have. Never will.

  • Only 12%of UKIP’s current supporters voted for it in 2010? Is that not similar to suggesting that Man Utd supporters follow Liverpool?

    Many people change how they vote between one election and another. Otherwise (think about it) every election would have the same result.

    This happens in football too. What proportion of current Man City supporters supported them in 2005? What proportion of Chelsea supporters did in 1995?

  • Otto

    “I wouldn’t give Alliance any vote. Never have. Never will”

    “The only people we hate more than the Romans are the fucking Judean People’s Front!”

  • DC

    I’m a traditional nationalist socialist /republican/civil righter.

  • aquifer

    So the Tories should increase the old age pension and buy a few votes in time for the next westminster election.

    Good news for the grumpy granddads?

  • When things go “belly-up” people think back to times that they (erroneously?) think were better and vote according. – “most of our people have never had it so good”. UKIP perhaps ties into that feeling.

  • Barry the Blender

    Of course he doesn’t. FJH is a traditional nationalist.

    Now now CS, you of all people should be feeding me the happy platitude that ‘Alliance is ‘for everyone’.

    I wouldn’t give Alliance any vote. Never have. Never will.

    That’s surely good advice for us all Fitzjameshorse.

  • terence patrick hewett
  • UKTaig

    Barney T-

    Over here on the mainland, a few of us refer to UKIP as the posh fascists.

  • terence patrick hewett

    In addition Barney you may understand why the English are so grouchy:

    It would be instructive to compare what has been done in this country to working class communities in the last 50 years, with what was done in South Africa under the Group Areas Act; and to compare the sense of loss and grief displayed by the victims at the trashing of their respective communities.

    Great outrage was displayed in the 1960’s, at the District Six removals in Capetown, South Africa. On 11 February 1966, the South African Government declared District Six a whites-only area under the Group Areas Act, with removals starting in 1968. By 1982, more than 60,000 people had been relocated to the bleak Cape Flats Township some 25 kilometres away. Everything in District Six was bulldozed except a couple of churches. The people that were removed suffered incredible cultural and identity loss and were subject to the appalling violence of the Cape Flats criminal gangs.

    The working classes in this country after 1950 saw their families dispersed, their towns and close knit communities destroyed and turned into murderous, vice ridden slums infinitely worse than anything they replaced, a thing that even the Luftwaffe did not achieve. Their family oriented culture came under constant and consistent attack. The abolition of capital and corporal punishment was something they never wanted because they knew what it would mean for them. They could not control their children; the usual robust methods being made illegal. The legalisation of abortion destroyed traditional morality and family structure, a eugenic attempt to kill off the next generation; the butcher’s bill since the 1967 Abortion Act stands at 6.7 million and counting. The schools which offered a way out of poverty were debauched and an anti-learning culture fostered from within them. They were called “chavs” and made to feel that their culture and love of country was inferior and even the traditional recreations of pub smoking with a drink outlawed.

    The responses to both of these events were very different. The one elicited outrage; but protests against the other were regarded with incomprehension and contempt. It was as if society regarded the working classes in Britain to be of a lower order that was unable to experience emotion and loss; a brute order of humanity with a debased culture of no value. The enormity of what the liberal elites have done to British society in the name of social engineering is now beginning to sink in. We get calls to fix our broken society by the very people who broke it in the first place. Like post Apartheid South Africa, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be set up, where the enforcers are encouraged to admit that everything they have implemented in the name of social engineering in the last fifty years has been a giant, tragic, cruel, wicked and traumatic social experiment inspired by some very base motives. Those who do not come from these communities do not even begin to understand the depth of the contempt and anger. People justly feel betrayed and marginalised by the very organizations that should have protected them.

    I was born in the East End of London and I saw it happen; it was my aunts, my uncles, my family and my community that was smashed. Like the Jewish poet Emanuel Litvinoff; when I return to the East End all I see are ghosts. I was also in Capetown when the removals from District Six took place; the same rejection and the same betrayal. The difference is that the Afrikaner, unlike the English, have repented and welcomed the family members back into the fold, and I am happy to say that I still have good friends there. So I retain the right to make these comments no matter how unwelcome they may be; there is a world of difference between being there and experiencing it, and just reading about it in books.

    The society and communities in Britain that were displaced were not perfect by any means, but in comparison to the violent and dysfunctional chaos that has been brought about by the activities of the liberal elites and their enforcers, it was a heaven of tolerance. That society was no accident; it was brought about after a 100 years of social reform by the Victorians and Edwardians. And our murderous and vice ridden society is no accident either; it was brought about in 50 short years by agents of a force bent on our destruction. They have managed to achieve the almost impossible; they have dragged us back into the horrors of the 18th century. Our unwritten constitution worked very well until recently, but it afforded us no protection from an internal enemy, not based on Plato’s Will to Good, but based on Nietzsche’s Will to Power. And God help us, we let it happen. What has been done is wrong in Christian terms, in philosophical terms, in human terms and in terms of self interest. Normal
    human relations are rooted in mutual respect not in the hatreds of domination by intolerance.

  • terence patrick hewett

    And finally try some stats on for size: how would this go down if translated to Eire:

    Percentage of white British in London boroughs 2001 and 2011 taken from the 2001 and 2011 census
    Barking and Dagenham 80.9% (2001) – > 49.5% (2011)
    Barnet 59.9% (2001) – > 45.5% (2011)
    Bexley 88.0% (2001) – > 77.3% (2011)
    Brent 29.2.% (2001) – > 18.0% (2011)
    Bromley 86.5% (2001) – > 77.4% (2011)
    Camden 52.7% (2001) – > 44.0% (2011)
    City of London 68.3% (2001) – > 57.5% (2011)
    Croydon 63.7% (2001) – > 47.3% (2011)
    Ealing 44.9% (2001) – > 30.4% (2011)
    Enfield 61.2% (2001) – > 40.5% (2011)
    Greenwich 70.6% (2001) – > 52.3% (2011)
    Hackney 44.1% (2001) – > 36.2% (2011)
    Hammersmith & Fulham 58.0% (2001) – > 44.9% (2011)
    Haringey 45.3% (2001) – > 34.7% (2011)
    Harrow 49.9% (2001) – > 30.9% (2011)
    Havering 92.0% (2001) – > 83.3% (2011)
    Hillingdon 72.5% (2001) – > 52.2% (2011)
    Hounslow 55.8% (2001) – > 37.9% (2011)
    Islington 56.8% (2001) – > 47.7% (2011)
    Kensington & Chelsea 50.1% (2001) – > 39.3% (2011)
    Kingston upon Thames 75.9% (2001) – > 63.1% (2011)
    Lambeth 49.6% (2001) – > 39.0% (2011)
    Lewisham 57.0% (2001) – > 41.5% (2011)
    Merton 64.0% (2001) – > 48.4% (2011)
    Newham 33.8% (2001) – > 16.7% (2011)
    Redbridge 57.5% (2001) – > 34.5% (2011)
    Richmond upon Thames 78.7% (2001) – > 71.4% (2011)
    Southwark 52.2% (2001) – > 39.7% (2011)
    Sutton 83.7% (2001) – > 70.9% (2011)
    Tower Hamlets 42.9% (2001) – > 31.2% (2011)
    Waltham Forest 55.7% (2001) – > 36.0% (2011)
    Wandsworth 64.8% (2001) – > 53.3% (2011)
    Westminster 48.5% (2001) – > 35.2% (2011)

    Percentage of white British in selected urban authorities in 2001 and 2011

    Bedford 80.8% (2001) – > 71.5% (2011)
    Birmingham 65.6% (2001) – > 53.1% (2011)
    Blackburn 76.1% (2001) – > 66.5% (2011)
    Bristol 88.0% (2001) – > 77.9% (2011)
    Bradford 76.1% (2001) – > 63.9% (2011)
    Brighton 88.0% (2001) – > 80.5% (2011)
    Bournemouth 92.5% (2001) – > 83.8% (2011)
    Cardiff 88.3% (2001) – > 80.3% (2011)
    Cambridge 78.5% (2001) – > 66.0% (2011)
    Coventry 78.3% (2001) – > 66.6% (2011)
    Crawley 84.5% (2001) – > 72.1% (2011)
    Derby 84.4% (2001) – > 75.3% (2011)
    Gravesham 87.2% (2001) – > 77.1% (2011)
    Ipswich 90.8% (2001) – > 82.9% (2011)
    Kirklees 83.7% (2001) – > 76.7% (2011)
    Leeds 89.2% (2001) – > 81.1% (2011)
    Leicester 60.5% (2001) – > 45.1% (2011)
    Liverpool 91.8% (2001) – > 84.8 (2011)
    Luton 65.0% (2001) – > 44.6% (2011)
    Manchester 74.5% (2001) – > 59.3% (2011)
    Milton Keynes 86.8% (2001) – > 73.9% (2011)
    Newcastle 90.7% (2001) – > 81.9% (2011)
    Northampton 87.7% (2001) – > 76.6% (2011)
    Norwich 93.5% (2001) – > 84.7% (2011)
    Nottingham 81.1% (2001) – > 65.4% (2011)
    Oxford 76.8% (2001) – > 63.6% (2011)
    Peterborough 85.7% (2001) – > 70.9% (2011)
    Portsmouth 91.9% (2001) – > 84.0% (2011)
    Preston 83.1% (2001) – > 75.8% (2011)
    Reading 80.6% (2001) – > 65.3% (2011)
    Sandwell 78.0% (2001) – > 65.8% (2011)
    Sheffield 89.2% (2001) – > 80.8% (2011)
    Slough 58.3% (2001) – > 34.5% (2011)
    Southampton 88.7% (2001) – > 77.7% (2011)
    Swansea 95.7% (2001) – > 91.5% (2011)
    Walsall 85.2% (2001) – > 76.9% (2011)
    Wolverhampton 75.4% (2001) – > 64.5% (2011)
    Wycombe 83.6% (2001) – > 75.9% (2011)

  • With the age profile, you’d expect UKIP voters to be more female than average (women live longer), so discovering that they are 57% male is a considerably stronger effect than it seems at first glance.

  • terence patrick hewett

    In response to the article in the Independent newspaper dated Monday, 12 April 2010:

    Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: If we close our borders, we close our minds.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/yasmin-alibhai-brown/yasmin-alibhaibrown-if-we-close-our-borders-we-close-our-minds-1942134.html

    It is the triumphalism of Yasmin at the ethnic cleansing of Southall that is significant: and I doubt that the former residents of Southall who were so brutally driven from their community would relish themselves being described as “racist skunks.” It was a cultural destruction, more complete than the Blitz, more complete than the bombing of Dresden; more complete than the nuking of Hiroshima. In those cities their shattered cultures at least arose from the ashes; Southall’s never will this side of Armageddon; so vindictive, so contemptuous and so petty.

    Before the destruction of the 1950’s began and the reduction to the vice ridden Bidonville it is today, Southall had a proud civic culture and history. They suffered grievously during WW2 as the two links below amply demonstrate: and their reward for bravery was cultural annihilation.

    A Four-year-old’s Memory of Mother’s Death
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/70/a1951670.shtml

    Under Attack: Living with the Bombs
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/04/a3695204.shtml

    It was as if society regarded Southall’s working classes to be of a lower order of humanity that was unable to experience emotion and loss; a brute order with a debased culture of no value. The enormity of what the liberal elites have done to British society in the name of social engineering is now beginning to sink in. We get calls to fix our broken society by the very people who broke it in the first place. Like post Apartheid South Africa, we want a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where the enforcers are encouraged to admit that everything they have implemented in the name of social engineering in the last fifty years has been a giant, tragic, cruel, wicked and traumatic social experiment inspired by some very base motives. Those who do not come from those smashed communities do not even begin to understand the depth of the loss, the contempt and the anger. People justly feel betrayed and marginalised by the very organizations that should have protected them.

    But it is the re-writing of history that is so vile: as John le Carre so memorably asserted “all over the world beastly people are making our time into nothing.”

    So just remember Yasmin, when you are tempted to malign the good vanished people of Southall; if it wasn’t for their bravery and their sacrifice you wouldn’t have a country to live in: for truly they gave their tomorrow for your today.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Oh Seamus: do you really think that the Limey’s are made out of wood? The piece that you have modded twice wont make us any less angry.

  • terence patrick hewett

    There is a direct correlation Seamus, between the attitudes of Wells and Stopes to the social attitudes displayed today. Early 20th century intellectuals imagined the masses as semi-human swarms ripe for extermination. If you take the trouble to read writers such as George Bernard Shaw, Ezra Pound, D H Lawrence, E M Forster, Virginia Woolf, H G Wells, Aldous Huxley and W B Yeats you will detect their revulsion of common humanity, which found its ultimate Neitzschean home in the horrors of the Third Reich.

    Many of the politicians who inspired the 1967 Abortion Act grew up with these writers and knew some of them personally. The Labour Party was based on a combination of middle-class radicalism and working-class social conservatism. The middle class radicals regarded working class morality with unconcealed contempt; so amply illustrated in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. The first half of the 20th century was a very dangerous place indeed for the lower middle and working classes; it was a society in which the word “ruination” meant exactly that; a destruction complete and total. The much sneered at working class morality, strong family and individual self control may be seen as a defence mechanism for survival in a dangerous world. That sneering of course always emanated from a position of middle class financial security; as indeed it does today.

    Middle class radicalism had more than a tendency to regard the working classes as merely an abstraction to be used up and disposed of at will; or as the Spanish liberal philosopher Ortega y Gasset put it; “the inert matter of the historical process.” After 1945 this radicalism triumphed within the party and they embarked upon a programme of social engineering which many in the working classes regard as a cruel betrayal of their sacrifice in two world wars. For the origins of this betrayal I can recommend the book “The Intellectuals and the Masses” by John Carey.