The first section of the article establishes the political salience of macroeconomic issues to the British electorate, reviews the distributional consequences of macroeconomic outcomes, and suggests that unemployment outcomes in particular have strong class-related distributional effects.
The second part presents a dynamic model of how rational voters evaluate the governing party, based on the idea that voters evaluate the cumulative performance of the governing party relative to the prior performance of the current opposition. Since the present relevance of prior outcomes decays over time, voters weight current performance more heavily than past performance informing contemporaneous political judgments.
The empirical analyses in the third section include measures of nominal economic performance (inflation and exchange rate movements) and real economic performance (unemployment and real income fluctuations). The regression results indicate that the responses of political support among the occupational classes to macroeconomic changes are sizeable, and that the cross-class variations are consistent with the distributional consequences reviewed at the beginning of the article.
The concluding section develops the electoral implications of the empirical results and presents a novel interpretation of trends in class-related political support for the parties. The evidence shows that the argument that there has been a persistent decline of class-based political alignments in Britain is erroneous.