Our recent polling for BBC London’s Inside Out
finds particularly strong support among skilled working class (or "C2") Londoners for the Met taking a more robust approach in any future riots.
In particular, as many as two thirds of skilled working class (or “C2”) Londoners say the Police should use tear gas in future riots, compared with only half of Londoners as a whole. Similarly, Londoners generally don’t think the Police should use rubber bullets in future riots. But the skilled working class in London are narrowly in favour of their use. Around three quarters of Londoners say the Police should use water cannon or curfews in future riots. Among C2 Londoners support is even higher.
So far, this might not surprise you too much: it’s received wisdom that liberal approaches to criminal justice are a middle class preoccupation. But before rushing to characterise skilled working class Londoners as disillusioned with overly-liberal policing, it’s worth noting a couple more things.
Firstly, C2 Londoners’ appetite for a tougher approach isn’t being driven by negative views of the Met generally or the Met’s handling of the riots. In fact C2 Londoners are particularly positive about the Met: 84% say the Met does a good job generally and 60% say it did a good job in the riots – slightly better ratings than the Met gets from Londoners as a whole.
Secondly, although C2 Londoners want to see a tougher approach from the police, their support for local people taking action to protect property and community is the same as among Londoners as a whole.
Nationally, the skilled working class has shrunk over the last few decades. But their support is still important, as shown by Labour’s fate in the 2010 General Election when this group deserted them in droves
. Polling can unpick some of the complexities of their views, but it’s a harder task for politicians to deliver policies that appeal to them.