Social workers to desert Labour in general election

Social workers will desert Labour in their droves in next
week’s general election in revolt against its policy on
asylum seekers and the Iraq war, a Community Care survey has
revealed, writes Mithran Samuel

The poll finds that just over one-third of social workers plan
to vote Labour, compared to over 60 per cent in 2001.

The Liberal Democrats have been the main beneficiaries of the
shift, with 28.9 per cent support, up from 16.8 per cent in 2001,
while the Green Party’s share has risen from 2.7 per cent to
6.6 per cent.

There has even been an increase in support for the
Conservatives, who look set to pick up 7.4 per cent of the social
work vote, up from 5.2 per cent last time.

The change reflects disillusionment across the profession with
the government’s social policy, with particular opposition to
Labour’s asylum stance.

Sixty nine per cent of respondents thought the
government’s asylum and immigration policies were poor, with
61 per cent taking the same view of Labour’s mental health
and homelessness programmes.

However, it also represents a protest against the war in Iraq.
Of those who voted Labour in 2001 and will not next week,
two-thirds cited foreign policy as a reason for their change of

Of those planning to stick with Labour, 62 per cent said this
was because the party was “the best of a bad lot”, with
just one-third saying this would be a decision based on the
government’s social policy record.

Social workers remain significantly more politically engaged
than the general population, with just under 90 per cent planning
to vote, a similar figure to 2001, and well above the 59 per cent
turnout at the last election.

Community Care surveyed 1096 social care professionals.

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