Some Labour supporters (myself included) have been rather critical of Ed's light touch Leadership. One of the sharpest pieces I've read comes from Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home - How-deep-is-Labours-support? An excellent analysis.
When researching the votes Labour has won and lost, by social class, I found some very interesting data from Ipsos MORI. A summary of UK voting by Social Class in General Elections 1979 - 2010 is below. I have also included the percentage of the UK Electorate by social class
(Please Click on the Image to Enlarge it)
Up to and including 1992 the ABC1 category was very strongly Conservative over Labour by 32%+. In 1997 Labour smashed this dominance. Tony Blair consciously re-aligned the party, successfully attracting this Electorate. Labour also improved the C2 and DE classes substantially.
Forward to 2010. While Labour lost some of the support from the ABC1 classification, the Conservatives were substantially below the levels of 1992 and earlier. This must concern them.
In the C2 group Labour were below the levels of support from any GE from 1979 to 2005, as is the DE class.
So what does this mean?
Due to the size of the ABC1 class, they cannot be ignored. Labour cannot win without keeping these voters happy and taking some back from the Conservatives. However, Labour must be delighted this group has stayed quite loyal.
The C2 and DE classes are critical for Labour to start winning General Elections again. Both swung alarmingly from Labour in 2010. However, the austerity measures the UK faces will hurt this group very hard, so should be easy to targets to get back.
The Labour Leader is therefore facing a dilemma that he must solve - how does he make Labour attractive to the working classes while keeping the middle class on board.
Answers on postcard (but don't mention Tony Blair or New Labour. He says he doesn't like that.)
Update - 22nd March 2011
I have put a calculator at the bottom of the page that predicts the overall result of a General Election based on the support for each party from each social class. It is based on the social class size that Polling companies weight to today.