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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > November 2017 > The reforging of Labour’s union link

The reforging of Labour’s union link

Daniel Tomlinson, the Resolution Foundation Theresa May wasted no time in ditching George Osborne—but she clung on to his provocative rhetoric about turning the Conservatives into the party of “working people.” In the event, in June’s vote the Tories proved to be the party of pensioners, with Labour having the edge amongst those of working age.

Definitions of class are complex and contested. But analysis of the British Election Study (BES), published here for the first time, affirms that Labour remains the party of workers, or at least those workers in unions. As the chart shows, its vote share among union members is up seven points on 2015, and 10 on 2010—climbing from 40 to 50 per cent since Gordon Brown lost power. Meanwhile the Tories have stagnated with around 30 per cent of the union vote in each recent election. Labour’s performance among union members is its best in 20 years, since its 1997 landslide. Its anti-austerity and pro-union manifesto may explain why; it included pledges to repeal the Trade Union Act and extend collective bargaining.

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In Prospect’s November issue: Joris Luyendijk and Stuart Ward try to uncover the way Britain is perceived by Europe and the rest of the world. Luyendijk—who lived in Britain for six years before recently moving back to his native Netherlands—explains that the Brexit vote has shown Europe that Britain needs time alone to find its identity again, while Ward—a native Australian—argues that its Britain’s imperial backstory that stops it from truly understanding what the world thinks of it. Elsewhere in the issue Jeffrey Lewis argues that US foreign policy has helped North Korea develop the nuclear bomb and we explore the effect that the Palestinian museum near Ramallah is having on the creation of a national identity. Also in this issue: Sameer Rahim profiles Armando Iannucci, Joseph Stiglitz on Britain’s tricky political situation.