‘Red Wall’ phenomenon at risk of being a red herring

24 May 22

‘Red Wall’ phenomenon at risk of being a red herring

In a report published on 24 May 2022, Nuffield Fellow and Director of the Nuffield Politics Research Centre Jane Green and co-author and former Research Fellow Roosmarijn de Geus (2019-2021) outline the electoral and policy significance of the growing economic divide between University graduates and non-graduates in the UK.

Using British Election Study data from 2018 to 2019, they show that the ‘Red Wall’ phenomenon may be misleading, and in fact may be creating blind spots about who is economically left behind, where they live and what policies might best serve them.

Those most at risk of becoming ‘won’t haves’ are younger non-graduates (under 40 for women and under 50 for men), in contrast to younger graduates. Older generations – including non-graduates – were, in 2018, more likely to be economically secure.

The report also shows that those parts of the population who are most concerned about immigration and are the most socially conservative are also the most economically secure.

Jane Green commented that:

“Politicians urgently need to consider who is least ready to withstand the cost of living crisis, and the implications for a future election. Such crises separate people and households according to whether they have buffers like savings, a home, a secure income, or the ability to borrow. Losing that economic security could have a major electoral impact.”

The report is being launched with an event at the Nuffield Foundation in London on Tuesday 24 May 2022. To download the report and accompanying graphics, visit the Nuffield Politics Research Centre’s web pages.

See also coverage in the Financial Times, The Independentand on Sky News.