Experts have devised a revolutionary new system for classifying voters that could hand political parties the key to unlocking victory at the next general election, The Independent can reveal.
The project headed by BMG Research drives a horse and carriage through traditional class-based views of how voters act and instead divides them into 10 electoral “clans”.
After interviewing almost 30,000 people over a year, researchers identified the distinct values of each clan and the issues on which they overlap – with parties able to politically position themselves on these sweet spots, standing to gain the backing of multiple groups.
BMG have launched a new online tool exclusively with The Independent, which allows anyone to discover which clan they belong to and to access data pointing to how groups may vote come 2022.
The study, a collaboration with academics in Bristol and Manchester, also offers a valuable insight into the politics of Brexit, which have cleaved through the traditional voting coalitions relied on by the major parties.
Find out which clan you belong to here
Dr Michael Turner, BMG’s research director and the report’s lead author, said: “All political parties are coalitions of voters with different priorities, and these coalitions are changing.
“The old way of looking at the world, through demographic factors such as social class, age, education, and where we live – all have much smaller influences on the way we vote compared to values and identity politics.
“The research team have also created an incredibly powerful and engaging tool, so the public can understand for themselves, what these clans are and how they differ, revealing the siloed and fractured nature of our politics at this time.”
The study interviewed 27,000 people to identify the “like-minded values groups”, and then devised 27 “golden questions” which if answered by any voter allows them to be categorised into one of the clans.
Identified groups include those such as the “Bastions of Tradition and the Individual” clan, the “Strength, Agreeable and Respect” clan, the “Modern Working Life” group and the “Notting Hill Society”.
The biggest single clan is the “Proud and Patriotic State”, making up some 15 per cent of the voting public and tending to favour redistribution of wealth, nationalisation of key industries and with a strong dislike of multiculturalism and freedom of movement.
Next biggest is the “Common Sense Solidarity” clan, which are also strong supporters of renationalisation and trade unions and believe firmly in the redistribution of wealth via taxation.
But while these two groups share a desire for left-wing economic policy, they are fundamentally divided over multiculturalism, with “Common Sense Solidarity” members far more at ease with immigration – the two groups were on opposite sides of the Brexit debate.
At the 2015 election 31 per cent of the “Proud and Patriotic State” clan backed Labour, 35 per cent backed the Tories and 22 per cent backed Ukip.
But two years later in 2017, 50 per cent of the group swung behind Theresa May’s Conservatives, despite their desire for the redistributive and nationalisation policies more commonly connected to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.
Paula Surridge, senior lecturer at the University of Bristol, said: “The research reveals how these clans might interact with each other, where conflict between different groups is more likely, and which groups might form broader coalitions to achieve their desired outcomes.
“The ‘clans’ presented here offer a new and more powerful way of understanding these choices and their roots. Understanding the ‘clans’ offers valuable insights into who might want what from Brexit and how this might affect future elections, or indeed referendum outcomes.”
Between the 2015 and 2017 election both Labour and the Tories increased their share in many of the groups, squeezing out smaller parties.
But the most noticeable change between the two elections was the growth in turnout from liberal, left-of-centre groups, the “Global Green Community”, up by almost 8 per cent, and “Common Sense Solidarity”, up by more than 4 per cent – with both groups overwhelmingly falling in behind Mr Corbyn’s Labour.
Overall the Conservatives were ahead across a greater range of groups – in seven of the 10 clans three years ago, down to six last year.
The only group that changed allegiance was the “Orange Book” clan – connected to Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats – which tipped from overall support for the Tories in 2015, to marginal backing for Labour in 2017.
It is these findings that led researchers behind the report to conclude the key factor in the 2017 result was not a “youthquake” – a spike in turnout among young people inspired by Mr Corbyn – but a “liberal tremor”, those with liberal views turning out in greater numbers and switching to backing the Labour leader.
The tool, useable on this page, allows anyone to answer the 27 “golden questions” themselves and find out which clan they are a part of.
They can also then go on to BMG’s comparison website where they will be able to access more detail on their own and other clans, and if they wish give some details that will allow their anonymous profile to go into a huge electoral map of the UK being created by the researchers.