Does the fact that more men are voting UKIP reveal a masculine tendency towards right-wing politics, asks Glen Poole?
Last week a stark gender divide in the nation’s political beliefs was revealed when a poll taken prior to the Heywood and Middleton by-election found that 20% more men would vote UKIP than Labour (41% v 21%) while 20% more women would vote Labour than UKIP (58% v 38%). As a result, the female electorate won the seat for the Labour Party.
This wasn’t a one off result. Men and women in the U.S.A have been voting for the “masculine” Republicans and the “feminine” Democrats along gender lines for 50 years now. Obama won the 2008 election by one percentage point amongst men and 12 points amongst women, while Clinton’s lead amongst women in 1996 was event bigger at 18 per cent.
Women in the UK have been slower to make the leftward shift, with 20% more women voting for Margaret Thatcher than Michael Foot in 1983 and 10% more women voting for John Major than Neil Kinnock in 1992. It wasn’t until as recently as the 2005 election that a “women to the left, men to the right” gap began to open up in the UK, with more men than women deciding to vote for Michael Howard.
By 2010, Labour was haemorrhaging male voters, with only 28% voting for Gordon Brown. Meanwhile, women’s combined centre-left vote (Labour and Liberal Democrat) was 57% compared to 50% for men.
Looking at the combined right-wing vote, 38% of men and 36% of women voted Conservative in 2010 and men were 50% more likely to vote for one of the “other” parties, with UKIP and the BNP on the right collecting most of those votes. More recently, a 2013 YouGov found that 52% of Conservative voters and 57% of UKIP voters are men.
VOTING BY GENDER AT UK GENERAL ELECTIONS 1974 TO 2010
|Con (m)||Con (f)||Lab (m)||Lab (f)||*Lib (m)||*Lib (f)|
*Includes Liberals/Alliance and Lib Dems
Source: Ipsos MORI
IT’S RAINING MEN
Much has been made of the Conservative’s apparent woman trouble since the last general election, particularly by Labour whose deputy leader, Harriet Harman, famously claimed “it’s raining men in the Tory Party”.
There is some evidence for such claims, with one Guardian/ICM poll revealing that Labour had a 7-point lead over the Tories (36%-29%) among men and 26 point lead (51%-25%) among women. What the media didn’t report was that those figures also showed that while the Conversatives had a 4% male-female gender gap (29%-25%) the Labour Party recorded a 15% female-male gender gap (51%-36%). Based on these figures, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to claim that “Sisters are doing it for themselves” in the Labour Party.
Several analysts (see Kellner, Ashcroft and Wells) have challenged the theory that the polls reveal a significant gender issue for the Conservatives, pointing out that the small polling samples have large margins of error; though this didn’t stop Cameron appointing an adviser on women’s issues.
So what does this tell us about gender and politics? One thing is clear, men and women consistently vote for all of the main parties, as YouGov’s analysis of men’s and women’s voting intentions over a 5 month period shows (see below), the gender differences are often unremarkable.
VOTING INTENTIONS BY GENDER (SEPT 2013 TO JAN 2014)
|Con (m)||Con (f)||ukip(m)||ukip (f)||Lab (m)||Lab (f)||Lib (m)||Lib (f)|
Irrespective of their voting intentions, there is evidence to suggest that even on the right of politics, female Conservatives tend to be more left wing than male Conservatives. So why is it that women tend to be more left wing than men? We explore this question in our companion article: Eight reasons why British women are more left wing than men.
Article by Glen Poole author of the book Equality For Men
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