Iraq war and asylum stance could be cue for staff to switch to Lib Dems

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.

The poll finds that just over 34 per cent of social workers plan to
vote Labour, compared with over 60 per cent in 2001.

The Liberal Democrats have been the main beneficiaries of the
shift, with 30 per cent support, up from 17 per cent in 2001, while
the Green Party’s share has risen from 3 per cent to 7 per

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

However, there has even been an increase in support for the
Conservatives, who look set to pick up 7 per cent of the social
work vote, up from 5 per cent last time.

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

However, the shift 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

British Association of Social Workers director Ian Johnston said:
“Labour needs to re-establish its concern for the under-privileged
and try to tackle inequality rather than promote self-interest.” He
added: “We think it’s simply not good enough that asylum is being
treated as a political football when there are people in our midst
who need our help.”

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 far 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

Community Care surveyed 1,096 social care professionals.

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