Working-class voters desert Labour as 'red wall' crumbles

Party shaken by possibly terminal decline of tribal loyalty in Welsh and northern England heartlandsOn 9 September 1981, the Norwegian football commentator Bjørge Lillelien famously celebrated his national team’s 2-1 victory over England in...

Working-class voters desert Labour as 'red wall' crumbles

Party shaken by possibly terminal decline of tribal loyalty in Welsh and northern England heartlands

On 9 September 1981, the Norwegian football commentator Bjørge Lillelien famously celebrated his national team’s 2-1 victory over England in a World Cup qualifier. Alternating between English and his first language, he lost himself in a list of English notables and icons: “Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana … vi har slått dem alle sammen, vi har slått dem alle sammen.” The latter words roughly translate as: “We have beaten them all.”

At Manor sports complex in Fenton, one of the six towns that make up the city of Stoke-on-Trent, the early hours of Friday morning presented a similar spectacle. As the counting of ballot papers went on, local Conservative activists gazed in awe at TV screens filled with the names of once-solid Labour seats that were falling to the Tories.

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