General election 2017: Will education be the key factor?

The BBC reports that class used to be an accurate indicator of voting habits – but that’s no longer the case. In the first of a three-part Divided Kingdom series for BBC Newsnight, Katie Razzall reports on one of the new key political divides – education.

“Whether you look at the vote for Brexit, the vote for Trump or for Marine Le Pen,” says Prof Matthew Goodwin of the Chatham House think tank and Kent University, “education was the biggest predictor of whether somebody would vote against the mainstream centre option.”

Prof Goodwin says education is now arguably “the most important divide” in Western elections. And whether someone has a degree or not is now a key marker of how somebody might vote. But why?

“We’re not entirely sure – but what is clear is education does have a really strong effect on making people more predisposed to liberal political outlooks,” says Prof Goodwin.

YouGov polling at the start of the general election campaign suggests 53% of people with no qualifications plan to vote Conservative, 17% UKIP, 18% Labour and 5% Liberal Democrat.

The Conservative vote share appears to decrease for every extra qualification a voter has, according to this poll. Conservative popularity right now means they do lead amongst all educational groupings. But among those with a degree, the Tory lead falls to 8%.

The plans for a hard Brexit will play a “massive role” at this election, argues Prof Goodwin. “If there is a realignment on the British right, it will allow us to identify areas where the UKIP-Conservative alliance will do well.”

Read more General election 2017: Will education be the key factor?

Do you think class is still an accurate indicator of voting habits or do you think education has taken over ? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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