Lens Blog

Psychological insight on current affairs


posted on 28th February 2018

In Brief

Politics is changing. The growing Open/Closed divide splits the generations and increasingly trumps the old Left/Right divide in defining voting behaviour. The political axis is rotating. This analysis not only helps to explain the 2017 General Election result but points strategists towards a battle for the growing Open ground where elections will be won.

Part One: Open versus Closed – Analysing the Data

Open versus Closed There is a growing divide in British politics. Open voters are positive about multiculturalism and diversity, comfortable with immigration, and in favour of Britain taking an internationalist, outward-looking approach to the world. Their views contrast with those of Closed voters, who are more likely to be sceptical of these things.

Younger voters are more likely to be Open On a range of issues our polling identified a stark divide between those aged 18-44 and those aged over 45 in attitudes to touchstone issues such as multiculturalism, anti-discrimination measures and nationalism.

This divide is generational, and Open is growing. As those who have grown up comfortable with a diverse, multicultural Britain get older, we can expect to see Open voters becoming the majority in older and older age groups.

The political axis is rotating Crucially, in the UK and across the world this divide increasingly predicts voting behaviour. Over the last 20 years the political axis has been rotating: from one which is based on economic interests to one increasingly based on values.

Part Two: Political strategists from both major parties respond to the analysis

Conservative peer Lord Andrew Cooper writes that the 2017 general election results showed a significant acceleration in this rotation of the political axis. He argues that a continuation of this pattern will see further seats change hands, and concludes that while the gulf in values will continue, the age when Open voters are outnumbered by Closed voters – currently around 45 – will rise as the ‘Open Generation’ gets older and the ‘Closed Generation’ dies out, with profound strategic consequences for the Conservative Party.

Labour’s Lord Spencer Livermore argues that the Global Future analysis provides the best frame for understanding the 2017 General Election. He concludes that the only viable strategy now available to Labour is one in which it is the unambiguous party of Open.

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