inFocus with David Coletto

inFocus on working class voters, the Red Wall seats in the UK, and how to communicate with people being displaced by economic change

inFocus with David Coletto
inFocus on working class voters, the Red Wall seats in the UK, and how to communicate with people being displaced by economic change
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In the 2019 UK General Election, a political earthquake occurred. The Conservative Party led by Boris Johnson gain 48 seats in England, many of them coming in the North and Midlands regions of England, two regions that had voted solidly for Labour for almost 100 years.

Now imagine if the Liberal Party of Canada won half or more seats in Alberta during a federal election – that’s the equivalent of what happened in the UK in 2019.

Now, this shocker didn’t come from nowhere. For years, Labour support in the region was deteriorating and in 2016, most who live in these consistencies voted to leave the EU in the Brexit referendum.

What happened in England that caused these safe Labour seats to switch to the Conservatives? How did the party of Margaret Thatcher convince these working-class constituencies to vote for a party that most would say didn’t represent their interests?

My guest on this episode of inFocus is UK pollster Deborah Mattinson, the founder of polling firm BritainThinks. Deborah was a pollster to former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. In 2010, she published Talking to a Brick Wall – the story of the New Labour years from the eyes of voters. Her latest book “Beyond the Red Wall” explores how British “left behind” communities created the electoral earthquake in 2019.

I just finished reading the book and am thrilled that Deborah agreed to talk with me. It’s a fascinating read and I believe her findings need to be read and understood for anyone interested in politics, public affairs, and the future of democracy in the UK, the US, and Canada.


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