​Labour's election result driven by “tsunami” of professional, middle-class voters says polling expert John Curtice

Mark Sands
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Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn Heads To Labour Party HQ
The Conservatives lost 13 seats at the election earlier this month (Source: Getty)

The Labour party's surprise election night triumphs were driven by recruiting supporters far from its traditional power-base, one of the UK's senior polling experts has revealed.

Jeremy Corbyn's party gained 30 seats at the General Election earlier this month, although it was not enough for Corbyn to become Prime Minister.

It came despite the party trailing by more than 20 points in early pre-election polling.

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Polling expert John Curtice, a professor at Strathclyde University, said today that the party was boosted by a swing to Labour from professional and managerial level voters, far from the party's historical backers.

Speaking at a Social Market Foundation event, Curtice said the party had seen a “tsunami of support” from young, middle-class, pro-Remain voices, which he credited to a combination of policies on student debt, housing and a more measured tone on Brexit.

This, he said, counteracted Tory successes with working-class voters, former Ukip supporters and Brexiteers.

“This is an election at which social class becomes less important as a base of Conservative and Labour support than we have seen in the whole of the post-war period,” Curtice said.

“The Conservative vote, in particular, becomes much more clearly a Leave vote than it had been in 2015,” he added.

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Curtice also claimed that the shock election result, which also saw Theresa May's Conservatives drop 13 seats, should have been more widely anticipated, despite sterling plunging immediately after the exit poll was released.

The psephologist noted that the Conservatives held an estimated seven point lead going in to the 2015 election, and notched a majority of 12, and went into polling day earlier this month on a similar lead.

“The truth is the polls only needed to be a little bit in error in terms of the Conservative lead and we were almost undoubtedly in hung parliament territory.

“Nobody should have been surprised by the time that we got to polling day that it was possible at least that the Conservatives would lose their majority,” he added, noting that limited options in Scotland and fewer swing seats in England have made winning a majority more difficult.

And pressed on who would be Prime Minister if an election was held again this year, the polling expert had only one answer: “Not Theresa May”.

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