Theresa May thinks the ‘just about managing’ voted Leave – but the numbers say otherwise

An almost identical proportion of Jams voted Leave and Remain

Theresa May’s concern for the ‘just about managing’ is fundamentally tied to the EU referendum. She claims that the vote was ‘a quiet revolution’ in which millions of struggling people ‘stood up and said they were not prepared to be ignored anymore.’

The ‘Jams’ were angry and voted to leave, according to the May doctrine, while the privileged and comfortable voted remain.

Unfortunately, new YouGov data confounds that narrative, showing that an almost identical proportion of leave and remain voters see themselves as ‘just about managing.’


As YouGov’s Matthew Smith puts it ‘there is no Brexit dimension to Jam status’. Or to any other economic status either, it seems. Across all income categories, near-identical numbers voted Remain and Leave.

Where differences do start to appear is in the party affiliation category, where those who voted Conservative in 2015 are somewhat less likely to feel like they’re just about managing, significantly more likely to describe themselves as ‘relatively comfortable’ and less likely than Labour voters to say they’re ‘not really managing’ or ‘not managing at all’.

Nor are self-identified Jams more likely to vote Tory next time, despite the prime minister’s extensive (if mostly unfounded) rhetoric.

As Smith concludes:

“What is clear is that, just like all of the various terms that have come before it – “hard working families”, the “squeezed middle”, the “strivers” – with “just about managing” the Prime Minister has hit on a phrase that resonates across the political spectrum.

It is a relatable phrase that speaks to the majority of people who do not already consider themselves to be well off. Or in other words, the group of voters every main party for decades has needed to woo in order to win an election.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the government calls these voters: what will count is whether it is able to use the next three and a half years of this Parliament to help them do better than just about managing.”

So far, not so good.

See also: To meet the challenges facing workers, Theresa May needs more radical reforms

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