Brexit Values Story Part 2.1

Research from surveys conducted before and after the 2017 General Election shows that Leave/ Remain voters split along values lines more than party lines, or indeed by age, class or sex.   Brexit Values Story Part 2.1 explores the data and implications, for example for the Labour party which has recently changed position on Brexit. It shows that the Labour ‘heartland’ is not now ‘traditional working class’ but far more defined by being Pioneer and like most of Britain, ‘middle class’. It argues that ‘on these data, Labour has the potential to gain majority support if it continues to reposition away from Brexit but only if now also attracts more Prospector support’.

This blog may be mainly of interest to UK and EU readers with an interest in ‘Brexit’ and values but the way a society can split along values lines has far wider significance for campaigners, as well as politicians and others concerned with social cohesion.  One lesson may even be campaigns themselves risk creating counter-productive values divides if they are values-projectors rather than behaviour-generators.  This will be discussed in a follow-up blog, Brexit Values Story Part 2.2.

[This blog is long – you can download it as a pdf here]

(one incorrectly placed chart replaced February 2019)


Brexit Values Story Part 1’ (February 2017) presented some evidence as to how an unprecedented values split divided British society over a major political issue – ‘Brexit’.   The underlying reasons for this have huge implications for campaigns in many countries (as it could happen elsewhere), and for cohesion or lack of in any society, especially given the bubble-making role of social media.  ‘Brexit Values Story Part 1’ had to rely on tangential evidence (although there was lots of it) as we had no before and after values survey.  That’s now changed as values-researchers CDSM have started publishing data from April and June 2017 surveys run before and after the UK General Election, in which they also asked about voting in the election and the 2016 EU Referendum.

Post-Referendum British Values Surveys

After the June 8th 2017 UK General Election, CSDM (‘Cultural Dynamics’) conducted a nationally representative survey of 2000 people aged 18 – 85, which asked questions including which parties they had voted for on 8th June 2017, and how they had voted in the June EU 2016 Referendum on membership of the EU (aka ‘Brexit’).  The survey was segmented by values, as well as class (Socio Economic Group), age, sex etc..

Pat Dade and Les Higgins from CDSM have been posting detailed articles at the CDSM website about this survey and a similarly segmented survey in March 2017, a week after the General Election was called.  This showed that the Registered Electorate (England, Wales and Scotland) has a different values profile from the population as a whole.  The Electorate is 40% Pioneer, 30% Prospector and 30% Settler whereas the population is 38% Pioneer, 37% Prospector and 25% Settler.  This is partly due to the greater representation of Settlers amongst older age groups, and that in turn will have made some difference to the results of both the General Election and the EU Referendum, for which the Electoral Roll was used to determine who could take part.

Serious followers of British politics or values may be interested in an article posted by Les Higgins in which he compares the values of those who were pleased or upset with the result of the General Election (a ‘hung Parliament’ in which Conservative Prime Minister Mrs May lost her majority) and the deal she then did with the Ulster (Northern Ireland) party the DUP, in order to form a government.

Since then Pat Dade has written a piece about the values profile of those registered and not registered to vote, the role of Kahneman’s ‘System 1’ and ‘System 2’ in political decision-making, the representativeness of the surveys, and other issues, as well as interesting articles on who voted Conservative and Labour, including the difference between actual voting and declared intention.  [Conservative support was strongly skewed to over 55, upmarket (AB), male, and ‘Settler with a fringe of Prospectors’ – a ‘voter profile’ says Dade, ‘that would seem to have a ‘sell-by date’ all over it’.  Labour base support was strongly skewed Pioneer and younger, having lost most of its traditional Settler base and failing, as Ed Miliband did, to capitalise on Prospector ‘intent’ to vote Labour, when it came to the actual vote].

Some of these results are summarised below, along with values maps for LibDems and UKIP which Dade has yet to publish on, plus also previously unpublished data on how voting Leave or Remain related to values, and voting at the 2017 General Election.

Basic Data*

Voted Conservative and voted Leave             21.4%

Voted Conservative and voted Remain          11.9%

Voted Labour and voted Leave                        12.2%

Voted Labour and voted Remain                    20.4%

Voted Lib Dem and voted Leave                      1.5%

Voted LibDem and voted Remain                   4.8%

Voted UKIP and voted Leave                            2.5%

Voted UKIP and voted Remain                        0.2%

Voted Leave                                                         44.2%

Voted Remain                                                     43.5%

Did not vote EU Referendum                           12.3%

[other parties not shown]

* Voted by party at General Election 2017 and Leave/Remain at UK EU Referendum 2016 (all data from June 2017 CDSM survey, base 2000)

Key to colours used in the main diagrams:

Index colour codes in the values tables only:

‘Skews’ or over and under-indexes are calculated for each values group, against each question option, so that the size differences of each values group are taken into account when assessing significance.  These are shown in the coloured cells of values tables.  100 indicates average (i.e. in line with the population as a whole, taking into account the size of the group in the population), and anything above 100 is an over index and anything under is an under index.

Skews are identified at three confidence levels.  Red, orange and pale orange mean the option is chosen more than would be expected by the number of Pioneers or prospectors or Settlers (or Values Modes) in the total sample.  Pale green, dark green or blue mean the option is chosen less than would be expected by the number of Pioneers or Prospectors or Settlers (or Values Modes) in the total sample.

Survey Results

The post-election June 2017 CDSM survey asked people how they voted at the Referendum.  The results (above) of 44.2% Leave and 43.5% Remain are similar to the actual Referendum result of 51.9% Leave and 48.1% Remain.

Here’s how the Referendum vote differed in terms of values:

The key data about values differences at the ‘Maslow Group’ level (Settlers, Prospectors and Pioneers) is all contained in this table.  The raw sample numbers are in the first row of each option. The second row shows the percentage within each values group taking that option (columns total 100% vertically).  The third row shows the % values make up of that option (sum to 100% horizontally).  The far right column indicates the total number of people and the percentage of the whole they represent, taking each option.

This 2000 person sample of the electoral roll population (England, Scotland and Wales) is 40.5% Pioneer, 28.7% Prospector and 30.8% Settler [bottom row].  As noted earlier, this is somewhat different from the wider national population because some people are not registered to vote.   The population is 38% Pioneer, 37% Prospector and 25% Settler, meaning that Settlers are significantly over-represented in the electoral population compared to the national population, and Prospectors are under-represented.   Prospectors are also more likely not to vote than Pioneers or Settlers even when registered to do so, and this will have made a small but possibly critical difference to the Referendum result.

The coloured indexes in the fourth row of each option show that, as was expected from previous studies reported in Brexit Values Story Part 1, Pioneers skewed strongly towards voting Remain, and Settlers even more strongly towards voting Leave, while Prospectors were more divided and over indexed on not voting.

The index figures show that Pioneers were 25% more likely and Prospectors 8% than the population average to vote Remain and Settlers 40% less likely than the average to do so.  In contrast Pioneers were 25% and Prospectors 14% less likely than the average to vote Leave whereas Settlers were 46% more likely than average to vote Leave.  Pioneers were average on not voting, Prospectors over-indexed on not voting by 21% and Settlers were 24% less likely than the average to not vote in the Referendum.

Above: ‘terrain map’ of the Leave vote by values.  (Top right segment: Settler, left segment, Prospector, bottom right, Pioneer).  It is very strongly matched to the Settler values group.  This is very similar to those previously measured as critical of the EU (see Brexit Values Story Part 1).  45.1% of the Leave vote was Settler whereas only 30.8% of the electorate were Settlers.  30.3% were Pioneers and 24.6% were Prospectors.  Golden Dreamer Prospectors (next to the Settlers upper left) more voted Leave than the Now People Prospectors (lower left).

Above: the Remain vote by values.  Strongly concentrated in Pioneers, with wide support amongst Prospectors but not many Settlers. [50.4% Pioneer,  31.1% Prospector,  18.4% Settler].

Above: those (12.3% in total) who voted in the 2017 General Election but who did not vote in the EU Referendum: 41.8% are Pioneers.  These people are most concentrated in the ‘Transcender’ Pioneer Values Mode. This supports previous surveys which found that those who failed to vote in the Referendum would, had they voted, probably have voted Remain.  Only 9.3% of registered Settlers failed to vote.

Chart showing various surveys on how people who did not vote at the Referendum say they would have voted

A higher overall turnout would therefore most likely have resulted in a Remain decision, and goes some way to explain why ‘the country’ still feels divided over ‘Brexit’ and many see it as unfinished business.

Those who did not vote in the Referendum but who went on to vote in the General Election were three times as likely as the average to be young (18-20, index 330) while 35-44 year olds were also 61% more likely than average to do this.  Over 65s on the other hand were under-represented in this group by 63 points.

Turnout campaigns were aimed at young people before the Referendum and (more so) the General Election and this seems to have had an effect, although too late for those who wanted to avoid a vote for Brexit.

As Pat Dade’s annotation (above) says, it seems that complacent Transcenders (index 156) formed the core of this group, perhaps being so incredulous at the claims of the Leave side, so unexcited by the Remain camp and so fed up with the whole Referendum campaign, that they did not turn out.  Perhaps instead, they then turned out at the General Election, where they mostly voted Labour (see below).  These are the highest self-agency group of all the Values Modes, posing a potential problem for Jeremy Corbyn (see this recent blog), as well as for Brexit.

The Settlers however were gripped by the (Leave) Referendum Campaign, many seeing it as a ‘patriotic duty’ and an opportunity to reassert national identity against ‘foreigners’: as a ‘defence of us’ issue it was tailor made to activate the Brave New World Values Mode which (see above) under-indexed on failing to turn out by 90% (index 10).

Only 3.3% of the Leave voters did not go on to vote in the 2017 General Election. (above)  These are strongly concentrated in the ‘Roots’ Settler Values Mode (red area), the group with lowest self-agency and typically not very engaged in politics or civic issues.  It may be that having done their bit to turn back the clock on unwelcome change at the Referendum and having got a result, they saw little need to engage with the subsequent election.

Nobody knows what would happen if events turn out so as to create another ‘referendum’ on Brexit, formal or de facto but my guess is that these results suggest that the Leave vote would be both smaller and less solid than it was at the time of the Referendum.  The main risks for any ‘Remain’ campaign would again be distraction, disorganisation and complacency.

Failing more detailed qualitative work with those who voted Leave, we can’t say why 30.3% of the Leave vote came from Pioneers (made up of 33.1% of all Pioneers) but as suggested in Values Story of Brexit Part 1, this is probably a more fractured group than the Remainers and might include:

  • Anti-capitalist Leavers who (like Jeremy Corbyn in the past) saw the EU as a corporate pro-business club
  • Anti-TTIP campaigners with a similar outlook (identified as a mainly left-wing group available to Leave campaigns, by Arron Banks and Nigel Farage)
  • Libertarians opposed to the EU as a higher, extra level of governance
  • Intellectual free-marketeers
  • Contrarians

Values By Party at the 2017 General Election and Referendum

[Outside-edge Values Modes shown on LAB 13: RT = Roots, BNW = Brave New World, GD = Golden Dreamer, NP = Now People, TX = Transcender, CE = Concerned Ethical].

There is now a general tendency for Labour to pick up more votes from Pioneers and Prospectors, and for the Conservatives to pick up more from Settlers and Prospectors, but as the maps above show, these major party allegiances are quite labile.  (UKIP and the Liberal Democrats have much more stable and narrower areas of values support).  [The 2017 maps are for actual voting, the 2013 maps for affinity.  For a definitive case study of how Labour attracted, and then lost the Prospector vote in 2015, drawing on values surveys commissioned by John Cruddas MP, see this blog].

The Prospector vote regularly swings and switches between parties and between voting and not voting at all, often dependent on what happens right up to ‘the day’ and in particular, whether there is a ‘right side’ to pick (ie to vote with and be part of the winning team).  Prospectors also like to vote for something with a bit of ‘star quality’, a property which was sorely lacking from the Remain campaign.  [These dynamics are discussed in much more detail in Pat Dade’s blogs at]

The maps below show the values of the 2017 Labour and Conservative voters in relation to the 2016 Referendum.

The core Conservative 2017 vote [top] and the core Conservative Leave vote [middle] are very similar: both Settler centred, although with less support from Conservative Golden Dreamer Prospectors for Leave.  The core Labour 2017 vote [top] and the core Labour Remain vote [bottom] are also very similar: Pioneer centred with some support from Prospectors, especially the Now People.

The Conservative Remain vote includes more Prospectors, some Pioneers and very few Settlers. Pat Dade’s annotations are shown below, matched against typical values-driven attitudes of these groups (ie same behaviour, different reasons):


The Labour Leave vote is split in two centres: Golden Dreamer/Brave New World and Roots.  Pat Dade shorthands these as ‘dark nationalism’ (power over others, rejection of foreigners), and ‘romanticised past’ respectively.

As other surveys have found, the Labour Remain vote was much bigger than the Labour leave vote, and for Conservatives it was the other way around [see table above].

The Shifting Position of Labour

The Labour vote is especially topical in the UK given the very recent change in Labour’s position, shifting from effective acceptance of Brexit in line with the Conservative Government’s position, to saying that it wants to remain in both the EU Single Market and Customs Union in a ‘transition period’ lasting up to four years, with an option for this to be a permanent arrangement.  As I noted in this July blog, the latter is in line with the official Labour position endorsed by it’s Conference.

That blog was entitled “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” – Will You Chose The Old or The Young” ?: it now seems that lots of internal wrangling and argument, Corbyn has chosen the young.  After I wrote that blog, a Labour insider from the Remain campaign told me to expect that Corbyn to manoeuvere into a position where he could criticise the government for failing to protect jobs (a ‘jobs-first-Brexit’) as the negotiations developed in the autumn (negotiations re-start this week).

Following the Labour re-positioning, which is slight but important as it detaches Labour from the Conservative position and opens the way for a new political divide over Brexit, numerous media commentators warned of a possible ‘backlash’ from pro-Leave Labour voters, against the officially new ‘softer’ position on Brexit.  The CDSM survey however suggests that at least in terms of the national vote, this risk may be relatively slight.

12.2% of the national sample (243) said they voted Labour at the 2017 General election and voted Leave at the Referendum but 20.4% (409) voted Remain and Labour.  In values terms the Labour 2017 + 2016 Leave vote over-indexed amongst the 44-54, female, DE (153), and the Values Mode Happy Followers (165) and Roots (147).   Happy Followers are an ‘inside’ VM on the values map, less ‘bothered’ by life in general than the ‘outside edge’ VMs and consistently less likely to play an active part in social issues of any kind.  Plus they are, as the name suggests, most likely to follow the lead of their ‘outside edge’ VM, in this case the Golden Dreamers who did not over-index on Leave or Remain.  Which way they go on ‘Brexit’ in future may depend very much on what others do and say, and for them, that will probably depend very much on self-interest, for example in terms of jobs and their personal economy.

The Roots VM is that with lowest self-agency, and the one which appears to have most tended to vote in the Referendum and then not vote in the Election.  It’s just an informed guess but it may be that this group will decide that they’ve made their point, and had their say, and now it’s up to others to ‘get on with it’.

In contrast, the much larger Remain+Labour vote is over-indexed to Transcender and 21-34 year olds and ABs.  These are the ‘campaign leaders’ on most social issues with the greatest self-agency.  There is no sign in this data of a solid Labour ‘working class’ or ‘Middle England’ pro-Brexit constituency although there is evidence of a split between what Pat Dade has called ‘True Labour’ (now, pro-Remain) and Blue Labour (more pro-Leave but smaller).  What is largely unknown and missing in terms of clarity is his ‘New Labour’ (mainly Prospectors).

Above: Labour by Values Modes, Leave and Remain, 2016-2017 (raw nos from sample)

In short, if the pro-Remain Labour campaign now energises the Prospectors, there may be a politically critical surge to keep Britain in the Single Market and EU, and that could carry Corbyn to a staying-in-the-(reformed/adjusted)-EU.  If not, Labour could watch from the sidelines as the Conservative Government, also divided, slides to wherever it ends up, taking the country with it.  There is probably little electoral risk to Labour from this, as most ex-UKIP and older voters already went Conservative.

On these data, Labour has the potential to gain majority support if it continues to reposition away from Brexit but only if now also attracts more Prospector support.   For Corbyn the dilemma is probably less between party and country (the Conservative problem) as choosing between doing what is best for the country, and either certainty of being able to totally blame the Conservatives for doing what is worst, or, having a real say in the outcome.

Some more charts:

Above: proportions of Maslow Groups within Referendum options.

Above: distribution of options within Maslow Groups (same as raw nos).

Above: Indexes only showing the departures from average – the only option where there was no significant values effect was for Pioneers not voting, which they did in line with the population as a whole, although as we have seen there was a strong tendency for this to be younger and Transcender Pioneers. [This takes into account the different sizes of the groups in the population].

Above: make up of the three main values groups within the Referendum options.

What about Other Factors ?

As many other surveys have showed, age played a part but especially among those voting Leave and not voting.  This is large part down to the values distribution across age groups in the UK (values-age effects are not universal but result from past social effects, so this is not necessarily a model for other countries).

The table above shows that the age group 25-34 over indexed on Remain, while four other age classes were average, and over 55 were below average.  So not all the remain voters were ‘young’.  These data show 50.8% of the Remain voters were 18-44.   The Leave vote was much more skewed, with only 33.9% of under 44s voting Leave, and those over 65 being 33% more likely than the average to vote Leave.  Non-voters showed the opposite effect: 51% were under 34, and 18-20 year olds indexed 269 on not voting, or more than two and a half times as likely as the average person in the electorate.

Sex on the other hand played effectively no part in the Referendum.

No significant differences with respect to sex.

There is some correlation between class as defined by occupation (Socio Economic Group) and values in the UK (below).  The Remain vote was proportionately highest in AB, followed by C1, with C2 and DE under indexing.  Leave was under indexed among ABs and over indexed in C2s but not DEs.  Not-voting was over indexed amongst C2 and DE.  As many psephologists and pollsters have said since the Referendum, this type of class segmentation no longer provides a good yardstick for social issues such as politics and ‘Brexit’.

Above: UK Population, SEG and values

Data at Values Modes Level

As students of motivational values will know, the CDSM model breaks out the three big values groups of Settler, Prospector and Pioneer into twelve smaller Values Modes which are more distinctive, and with practice, more recognizable as ‘real people’.  For those interested, here are the VM (Values Mode) results on the Referendum (in values transition order – explanation and more on VMs here).

Below I have extracted just the significant skew indexes:

All the Settler VMs (four left) under index on Remain, and all over index on Leave.  The highest single over-index on Leave is BNW or Brave New World, the VM with the strongest unmet need to assert group identity.  At its simplest, many BNWs may see the EU as ‘us’ being controlled by ‘them’.

The strongest proponents of Remain in contrast, are the Transcenders (TX), the highest agency VM and typically the leaders of change, both socially and individually.  Transcenders will tend to see the EU as valuable for all its faults, as a rare working example of inter-government cooperation, and the best bet in tackling major global problems like climate change, while also upholding freedoms and fostering innovation.

The only Pioneer VM to under-index on Remain and over index on Leave is the Transitionals (TS), the VM which has just transitioned from Prospector World.  TS tend not to have very strong political views but are very sure that they, and thus ‘everyone’, need to “live differently”.  Leaving the EU might be just such an adventure.

Two VMs over index on not voting, and probably for very different reasons.  The stand-out is NP, the Now People.  These are the most socially influential (with other Prospectors in particular) Prospector VM, and the party-people and fashionistas of the values worlds, as well as being more confident aspiring achievers than other Prospectors.  They want politics like the rest of life to be fun and to give definite choices.  As was anticipated in a previous blog before the Referendum, the failure to get the NPs out is probably one reason (along with some Pioneers not voting) why Remain scraped a loss (the campaign lacked stars, positivity, fun and a positive vision about how the EU gave them a better life).

The other VM over indexing on not voting is the Flexible Individualists or FIs, Pioneers lying to the inside of the TX on the map, and the most out-there, anti-traditionalist and reflexive of all Pioneers.  Fis frequently adopt iconoclastic positions and may challenge every received wisdom.  Their watchword is ‘do you own thing’.  Quite possibly, the Referendum with its simplistic binary format, did not appeal.  (Reinventing the EU however might have appealed a lot, although they would have all wanted to take part individually).

The only VM to score as average across the options was the Golden Dreamers (GD), identified by Pat Dade before the Referendum as the likely swing group or bellwether.  Like the country, they were split down the middle.

Only detailed qualitative work could confirm this but the GDs, constantly on the look-out for a rapid route to success (especially Material Wealth – see a detailed explanation here), probably found the claims of the two camps hard to reconcile, or chose between.

Like BNWs, GDs are also sensitive to the concern that others might be exerting ‘power over us’.  In this case these two factors could have been in conflict.  On balance the EU may have looked a better bet economically (Kahneman’s System 2), whereas an offer to ‘take back control’ by leaving the EU (more System 1) might also have felt attractive in the GD way of looking at things.  GDs can often be seen in Brexit vox-ops on UK TV, expressing two mutually contradictory views about immigrants, with the dividing line between good and bad immigration being drawn according to economic necessity (and possible competition), though not necessarily decided by analysis so much as intuition.

Above, raw numbers from the sample showing the huge pile of Settler Leave votes.

Above: raw numbers from the sample showing the dominance of the TX vote and low Settler support (note different scales).


Above: raw numbers from the sample showing relatively high numbers of NP and GD who, along with many Fis and TXs did not vote, for different reasons discussed in the text.

UKIP and the Liberal Democrats

Both UKIP and the LibDems were squeezed, along with the Greens, at the General Election.  Numerous other analyses have discussed why this happened (eg YouGov).  Essentially the UKIP vote went mostly to the Conservatives (although some RT voters seem to have not bothered, above), while Labour attracted many Pioneers, some of whom might otherwise have voted for the LibDems.  This general picture of course fails to represent the political significance of local voting, for example where I live, Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb MP was re-elected despite being in an area which mainly voted Leave.

Very few LibDems voted to leave the EU: it is a staunchly pro-EU party.

The LibDem Remain vote reflects the general Pioneer orientation of the party – currently reduced to a fringe of less than 10%, and very concentrated in the TX and CE (Concerned Ethical) Pioneer VMs.  The LibDems have a new leader (Vince Cable) and past experience suggests that this could increase their appeal but the same track record suggests it is unlikely to reach much beyond 20% without a significant change in policies, or a change in the electoral system in the UK (it reached 23% in 2010).

Above: the UKIP Leave vote.  UKIP is the party which launched the Brexit campaign, and as its leaders have said, it can claim to credit for the ‘Brexit’ result, albeit thanks to a series of miscalculations by others, particularly the Conservatives.  It’s vote however collapsed at the 2017 election.

The remaining 2017 UKIP vote is centred in the BNWs VM but at 2.5% (this survey) and 1.8% (national result) is much reduced from its high point of 13% at the 2015 UK General election.  (The UKIP Remain vote was infinitesimal – 0.2% in this survey).

Above: share of vote at UK General Elections showing squeeze of other parties vote by Labour and Conservative at the 2017 election.







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