Scotland and North of England suffer as UK parties focus on “narrow group of voters” says academic

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By G.A.Ponsonby
 
A leading academic has claimed that both the Labour party and the Conservatives have been targeting a narrow group of so called swing voters when developing their policies.
 
Speaking on Newsweek Scotland, Richard Findlay, who is professor of Scottish history at the University of Strathclyde, said it has led to a situation that is seeing poverty become generational, geographic and even cultural.

“Crudely speaking what you see is a Tory south and a Labour north” he said and added: “If you are a Conservative Government then you tend to look after your own.”

Professor Findlay was responding to a report this week that showed four of the poorest areas of Britain are in and around the Labour stronghold of Glasgow.  The report showed a north south divide with those on least benefits living in the south east of England.

The academic said that the situation had gotten worse since the 1980s as successive Labour and Tory Westminster governments took a view that they could afford to ignore areas where they had traditional strong support.

He also claimed that parties tended not to want to invest resources in areas that would not provide a political dividend.

The academic claimed that the situation which has resulted in UK regional divides had evolved since the 20s and 30s and was completely different from mainland Europe which he said was in part due to the proportional electoral voting system prevalent particularly in the north of Europe.

He described the situation that has led to the south east being protected and the “depressed north” suffering as having “historically evolved” and claimed that this was in part caused by the British first past the post electoral system which had given rise to a political pragmatism as parties sought electoral advantage.

Hear the interview here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0195h5n/Newsweek_Scotland_07_01_2012/
(46 mins)