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Summary

Why Labour lost, how the Conservatives won and what will happen next.

The last general election saw the Conservatives win their highest vote share in 40 years, while Labour slumped to their lowest seat total since 1935. At the heart of this electoral earthquake was the so-called Red Wall, some 60 seats stretching from the Midlands up to the North of England. 

Working-class voters in these old coal, steel and manufacturing constituencies had been the bedrock of past Labour victories, but all that changed on 12th December 2019 when Boris Johnson turned the Red Wall blue. 

Who are the Red Wall voters, and why did they forgo their long-standing party loyalties? Did they simply lend their votes to Johnson to get Brexit done, or will he be able to win them over more permanently? And as the Labour Party licks its wounds, how were those votes thrown away, and what, if anything, can be done to win them back? And how will the pandemic and the government’s reaction to it change the voter's outlook on party politics in the future? Will everything be the same after it has passed?

This book sets out to answer those questions by putting them to the people who will decide the next election. Deborah Mattinson, pollster and strategist, veteran of nine elections, uses a programme of focus groups and in-home ethnographic interviews in seats such as Workington, Don Valley and Redcar to build a vivid portrait of Red Wall voters. She identifies their likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, values and attitudes, where politics fits into their lives and what kind of Britain they want for themselves and their families.

©2020 Deborah Mattinson (P)2020 W. F. Howes Ltd

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Seems reasonable

As someone who lives in so called red wall, in a house with 2 ex labour voters, this books seems about right summing up the way people feel in this part of the world regards the Labour party.

Ive found people here to be socially conservative and patriotic who value their heritage. And more than anything have a deep rooted desire for fairness. Contrast this with Labour, a liberal party, obsessed by political correctness and ashamed by Britains past, and who advocate positive discrimination. (my views not the authors).
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So I do sympathise with the author when she wrote that she was suprised many people here voted for Labour for so long, i have often wondered this myself.

In anycase its not great fun listening to the woes of poor folk, most of whome actually live better than any of our ancestors, even the old kings, but I think its an accurate account of how people percieve Labour.
Any party that focused on restoring the industrial heritage of these towns would be on to a winner, because they would restore their pride.

The author seems to been doing these focus groups a long time and knows her business. I do wonder if she would get an even more accurate account how people feel in the pubs and in kitchens rather than in nice offices with the mentioned custard creams? After covid perhaps. In any case a good effort and the narration is good aswell.

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Very interesting 2 hear these personal experiences

A very tough listen for a die hard Labour supporter like me. Hopefully we can win many of these people back in 2024!

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What those ex Labour voters really think

This is a vital book for anyone who wants to understand why the red wall fell in 2019 and why so many in Labour’s heartlands voted to leave the EU. The truth of the neglect in some of these areas is shocking it takes 75 mins to travel by train 20 miles in some parts of the North. People don’t leave their areas and have a nostalgic view of the past. Labour took these people for granted and that is why we are in the mess we are now.

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Miserable listen

I understand that "liberal elites" are probably out of touch with working class voters but I was hoping for more analysis, I had to abandon this half way through. It is just painful and boring reporting of focus groups. Imagine parking yourself in a Wetherspoons and listening to ill-informed people all day, or a family Christmas listening to your bigoted uncle - that's the book. I'm sure the content is useful for the Labour Party in shifting to the right but it's not a pleasurable listen I'm afraid. Oh and it's narrated by a woman with a northern English accent for added authenticity.

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Excellent analysis

Well presented analysis of the current political situation in the north. Excellent narration too, very easy on the ears. Chapter lengths were good and not too long so ideal for natural breaks.

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brings better understanding.

labour left these towns to de indutrilzation and austerity, and left the news to the Dailymail and the bbc. no wonder these voters are confused and angry.

maybe thats a bit unfair, i can understand and relate tonmany things that are said by interview participants, but other things they said and attitudes expressed annoyed me.

They have placed a lot of hope in a project sold with lies and in a man who cant even be faithful in marriage. 🙁

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-01-21

A truth for labour to contend with

I have worked with the author of this book for more than a decade and no one is better at simply listening to people and giving you the unvarnished truth. This book makes very uncomfortable listening for Labour but fully grasping the way the people in these areas of Britain think and feel is essential if they are going to be able to find a sensible strategy to take power at any point in the future. Beyond that this book paints a vivid, engaging and balanced picture of a much ignored section of our society.