This article was updated on 13 January 2015 to take into account more recent claimant count statistics from the DWP.

Working age claimants hold the balance of power in enough marginal seats to potentially decide who governs Britain at the next election, and yet they are treated by politicians with such contempt that you might imagine they had no vote at all.  Could that all be about to change?{jcomments on}

Amber Vally Conservative Majority vs Claimant CountAs the tables at the bottom of this article show, if just one in four more working age claimants had voted Labour at the last election, Labour would have been the largest party.

It would have taken an even smaller increase in support from claimants for the Conservatives to win outright victory.

And at the last election the Conservatives took 36.1% of the vote, whilst Labout took 29%.  If the polls are correct and this election is a much closer run race, then the votes of working age claimants could be even more crucial.

So why don’t politicians worry about deriding sick and disabled claimants or threatening huge cuts to working age benefits?

Most people believe that the reasons pensioners benefits remain untouched in the current austerity programme are because, firstly, there are a lot of pensioners and, secondly, their age group turns out to vote in large numbers.  

In fact, turnout at last general election by age was 44% for 18-24 year olds, whilst it was 76% for those aged 65 or over.

At May 2013 there were 12.9 million state pension claimants, so that’s a lot of very committed voters.

But there are also 5.2 million working age benefits claimants in Britain and many of these are sick or disabled. For example, 3.26 million receive DLA whilst 2.15 million get ESA, with some getting both benefits. Around 5 million claimants get housing benefit.

By comparison, there are around 6 million trades union members in Britain.

We have no idea how many working age claimants vote, particularly those who are sick and disabled, because nobody cares enough to find out.  But it seems likely that turnout at the last election was relatively low amongst sick and disabled voters simply because many saw themselves as having very little to choose between the three major parties.

At the 2015 general election the picture may be dramatically different, however.  

Many claimants will always despise Labour for their anti-claimant rhetoric, for creating the work capability assessment and for introducing private sector companies like Unum and Atos into the benefits system.  

But following 5 years of coalition savagery, hatred and impoverishment, and with chancellor George Osborne undertaking to cut a further £12 billion mainly from working age benefits, many may also believe that another five years of coalition or Tory rule will represent a virtual – or actual – death sentence for them.

Under those circumstances, if despair does not disenfranchise them entirely, claimants may turn out to vote Labour in unprecedented numbers, holding their noses whilst they do so.

If claimants and representative bodies work conspicuously and effectively to get the claimant vote out in marginal seats, the 2015 election could mark a turning point in the way that politicians regard them.  Jeers and mockery may turn to the same grudging fear with which pensioners are regarded by many politicians.
And after the next election, fear of newly assertive claimants might even be sufficient to force whichever party is in power to pass legislation giving disabled people the same protection against prejudice and hatred that members of ethnic minorities have.  

With the press and politicians finally forced to end the rabble rousing and hate campaigns, the world could look a very different place.

Or are we just dreaming?

Labour target seats

Labour needed 68 more seats to win an outright majority at the last election - these are the seats they came closest to winning.

Consitutency Party Votes needed Working age claimants
 North Warwickshire  Con  54  6640
 Thurrock  Con  92  10270
 Hendon  Con  106  8710
 Cardiff North  Con  194  5540
 Sherwood  Con  214  8210
 Norwich South  Lib Dem  310  9260
 Stockton South  Con  332  8140
 Lancaster & Fleetwood  Con  333  6840
 Bradford East  Lib Dem  365  14860
 Broxtowe  Con  389  6010
 Amber Valley  Con  536  7360
 Woverhampton South West  Con  691  8910
 Waveney  Con  769  9730
 Carlisle  Con  853  7690
 Morecambe & Lunesdale  Con  866  8650
 Weaver Vale  Con  991  7780
 Lincoln  Con  1058  10440
 Plymouth Sutton & Devonport  Con  1149  13060
 Brighton, Pavilion  Green  1252  7490
 Stroud  Con  1299  5370
 Brighton, Kemptown  Con  1328  9390
 Brent Central  Lib Dem  1345  14650
 Bedford  Con  1353  9330
 Watford  Con  1425  6990
 Arfon  Plaid  1455  4940
 Dewsbury  Con  1526  9750
 Warrington South  Con  1553  6650
 Pudsey  Con  1569  4890
 Enfield North  Con  1692  10010
 Burnley  Lib Dem  1818  10490
 Dundee East  SNP  1821  8530
 Hove  Con  1868  7700
 Manchester, Withington  Lib Dem  1894  7970
 Corby  Con  1895  8730
 Northampton North  Con  1936  7060
 Brentford & Isleworth  Con  1958  8320
 Hastings & Rye  Con  1993  12190
 Halesowen & Rowley Regis  Con  2023  8050
 Nuneaton  Con  2069  8290
 Ipswich  Con  2079  10210
 Blackpool North & Cleveleys  Con  2150  10200
 East Dunbartonshire  Lib Dem  2184  4180
 Bury North  Con  2243  7960
 Gloucester  Con  2420  10300
 Wirral West  Con  2436  5090
 Kingswood  Con  2445  5090
 Erewash  Con  2501  8030
 City of Chester  Con  2583  6930
 Croydon Central  Con  2879  10220
 Keighley  Con  2940  7770
 Worcester  Con  2982  7640
 Birmingham, Yardley  Lib Dem  3002  13780
 Cannock Chase  Con  3195  8500
 Harrow East  Con  3403  6240
 Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire  Con  3243  6710
 Argyll & Bute  Lib Dem  3431  6660
 Carmarthen East & Dinefwr  Plaid  3481  6370
 Warwick & Leamington  Con  3513  5510
 South Swindon  Con  3544  8000
 Stevenage  Con  3578  7340
 Pendle  Con  3585  8750
 Ealing Central & Acton  Con  3716  8460
 Loughborough  Con  3744  6080
 Edinburgh West  Lib Dem  3803  6140
 Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale  Con  4194  6350
 Vale of Glamorgan  Con  4307  8880
 Elmet & Rothwell  Con  4521  5190
 Norwich North  Con  4677  7330






























































Conservative target seats

The Conservatives needed an extra 20 seats to win outright at the last election.

Constituency Party Votes needed Working age claimants
 Hampstead & Kilburn  Labour  42  9730
 Bolton West  Labour  92  7960
 Solihull Lib Dem  175  5110
 Southampton, Itchen  Labour  192  9110
 Mid Dorset & North Poole  Lib Dem  269  3750
 Wirral South  Labour  531  5200
 Derby North  Labour  613  8440
 Dudley North  Labour  649  9500
 Great Grimsby  Labour  714  11700
Wells Lib Dem 800  6710
 Telford  Labour  978  10450
 Walsall North  Labour  990  12510
Morley & Outwood Labour 1101  6780
Birmingham, Edgbaston Labour 1274  10470
 St Austell & Newquay  Lib Dem  1312  9020
 Halifax  Labour  1472  11550
 Newcastle-under-Lyme  Labour  1552  7290
Sutton & Cheam Lib Dem 1608  4780
Wakefield Labour 1613  9290
 Middlesborough South & East Cleveland  Labour  1677  9930
Somerton & Frome Lib Dem 1817  5590

Lib Dem target seats

Below is a selection of seats the Lib Dems came close to winning at the last election.

Constituency Party Votes needed Working age claimants
 Camborne & Redruth  Con  66 8210
 Oldham East & Saddleworth  Labour  103 10100
Sheffield Central Labour 165 9920
 Oxford West & Abingdon  Con  176 4110
 Ashfield  Labour  192 10870
 Edinburgh South  Labour  316 5120
 Truro & Falmouth  Con  435 6230
Swansea West Labour 504 8590
 Newton Abbot  Con  523 5910
 Chesterfield  Labour  549 9620
 Kingston-upon-Hull North  Labour  641 12140
 Rochdale  Labour  889 13740
 Harrogate & Knaresborough  Con  1039 4580
Montgomeryshire Con 1184 4290
 Watford  Labour  1425 6990
 Newport East Labour  1650 8800
 Edinburgh North & Leith  Labour  1724 8600
 St Albans  Con  2305 4600
Hereford & South Herefordshire  Con 2481 6460
 Weston-Super-Mare  Con  2691 9630
 Torridge & West Devon  Con  2957 6700




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