Although life-long allegiances to one political party undoubtedly exist, many voters change their voting behaviour throughout their lifetime, with their values and interests evolving just as parties’ do. Changes in party leadership and constituency candidates often play a critical role in altering voters’ minds, along with a plethora of other situational factors. In the latest research by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, we look at this topic by exploring which parties 2019 Conservative and Labour voters say they have voted for in the past and which ones they could see themselves voting for in the future.
We find that a quarter (25%) of 2019 Conservative voters say they have voted for the Labour Party in the past, whereas 15% of 2019 Labour voters say they have previously voted for the Conservative Party. These results reflect the Conservative Party’s significant seat gains in the 2019 General Election, many of which were lost at the expense of the Labour Party.
Conservative voters from two different generations—25-to-34-year-olds (35%) and 55-to-64-year-olds (34%)—are the most likely to have previously voted for the Labour Party, though the number of elections in which respondents have been eligible to vote of course varies with age. Meanwhile, 35-to-44-year-old Conservative voters appear to be the most consistent supporters of the Party, with 17% saying they have voted Labour, but a majority (58%) reporting having only ever voted Conservative. Overall, 42% of 2019 Conservative voters say they have only voted Conservative in elections.
A slightly greater proportion (48%) of 2019 Labour voters say they have only voted Labour in elections, including 57% of voters aged 45 to 54 and 51% of those aged 65 and over, showing a heightened loyalty to the Labour Party among its older voters.
A similar fifth of 2019 Conservative (20%) and Labour (21%) voters indicate that they have voted for the Liberal Democratic Party in the past, demonstrating this party’s history of gaining (and losing) the support of Britons from either side of the political spectrum. A further 17% of Labour voters say they have previously voted for the Green Party, including 31% of 55-to-64-year-olds, while 14% of Conservative voters identify UKIP as a party for which they have voted in the past.
Our research also seeks to measure 2019 Conservative and Labour voters’ current willingness to change their vote in future elections. When asked if they could see themselves voting for a party for which they did not vote in the 2019 Election in the next few years, 37% of Labour voters say they could only see themselves voting Labour and 48% of Conservative voters say they could only see themselves voting Conservative in future elections. Accordingly, it appears as though Conservative voters currently view themselves as somewhat more likely than Labour voters do to maintain an allegiance to their respective party. Alternatively, just 14% of Conservative voters could see themselves voting Labour and 11% of Labour voters could see themselves voting Conservative in the next few years.
A considerable 23% of Labour voters say they could see themselves voting for the Green Party in the next few years, a figure which again increases to 32% for 55-to-64-year-olds. Thus, as Green parties grow in prominence across Europe, similar developments in the UK could have an impact on the Labour Party’s support base in future elections. A fifth (21%) of Labour voters also say they could see themselves voting for a Liberal Democrat candidate, compared to 10% of Conservative voters who say the same. Lastly, 17% of Conservative voters and 13% of Labour voters say they don’t know if they could see themselves voting for any other party in the next few years.
Although our research shows some openness to voting for other parties in future elections, the large majority of 2019 Conservative (87%) and Labour (83%) voters say they are happy with the way they voted in the 2019 General Election and would not change their vote if given the chance. Only 8% of Conservative voters and 10% of Labour voters say they would change their vote if presented with the opportunity, demonstrating that for the time being, Britons hold few regrets about their voting behaviour in 2019. With the next General Election not scheduled until 2024, there remains plenty of time for voters to determine whether or not they will cast their vote differently next time around.