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Careerists versus coalminers: welfare reforms and the substantive representation of social groups in the British Labour Party

O'Grady, TD; (2019) Careerists versus coalminers: welfare reforms and the substantive representation of social groups in the British Labour Party. Comparative Political Studies , 52 (4) pp. 544-578. 10.1177/0010414018784065. Green open access

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Abstract

Many parties have seen declines in working-class legislators and increases in professional career politicians. I argue that career politicians are more likely to adopt policies for strategic political reasons, whereas working-class politicians are more likely to represent the interests of working-class voters. Changes in the representation of these occupational groups matter substantively whenever legislators’ strategic concerns contradict the interests of working-class voters. Welfare reforms adopted in the 1990s and 2000s by the British Labour Party exhibit this divergence. The two types of politicians held very different policy positions, which I measure using a scaling method applied to all speeches made about welfare in the House of Commons from 1987 to 2007. The results carry over to voting behavior and are robust to alternative explanations, including other characteristics of both MPs and their voters. The changing representation of occupational groups has therefore had substantive policy effects, lowering the political influence of working-class voters.

Type: Article
Title: Careerists versus coalminers: welfare reforms and the substantive representation of social groups in the British Labour Party
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0010414018784065
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414018784065
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Political parties, representation and electoral systems, legislative studies, political economy
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10052651
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