Conservatism, it seems, is contagious. Moving to Tunbridge Wells, or a similar Tory heartland, will make you more rightwing, an academic study has found.
A study analysing the political beliefs of the 10% of Britons who move home each year has found that “movers to safe Conservative seats became more economically rightwing and more likely to vote Conservative after the move”, whatever their political views before. It also found that the longer someone lives in a Conservative constituency, the more likely an individual is to support the Conservatives. However, there is no equivalent effect on those moving to Labour seats and staying there.
“If you move to Tunbridge Wells from Salford, on average, people become a bit more rightwing over time,” said the study’s author, Professor Patrick Sturgis of the University of Southampton. “It is the move that is causing the change, because the comparison is with people who don’t move. Yet we don’t find the same with people moving to Labour areas. We think the reason is that people who move to Labour areas are already pretty leftwing, so there is no space for movement. People who move to Tory areas are more variable in their politics.”
You need to know why people are moving. And a move from Salford to Tunbridge Wells is likely to indicate a change in economic status: which is also likely to have an effect on one’s politics. Possibly from the soak the rich for my benefit class to the being rich who will be soaked class.
Which is why looking at those who move and those who do not doesn’t work. Because we already know there’s something different about those who move.
As to why it doesn’t work in reverse that’s also obvious. If you’re in the red heartlands you are told, endlessly, that they’re shite because the other areas stole all the money. If you move blue you find out that this isn’t true: views might therefore change. If you move from blue to red you still find out that this is true, red isn’t shite because others steal all the money. Thus your views don’t change.
That last bit of reasoning is at best arguable. But it’s still a terrible piece of reasoning from their research they’re offering us.