We want our party back!

One of the myths of recent times is that social class is less significant. The original idea of embourgeoisement was rightly derided, the echoes of it appear in arguments about the way the Working-class are blamed for Brexit and portrayed as ignorant oafs flocking to Brexit.

In fact as the recent evidence shows the reason for working-class voters moving away from Labour is because Labour in the guise of both Kinnock and Blair moved away from them seeking ever more adaptations to the middle class to try to create a winning electoral alliance. A key effect of this in the 21st century was the decline of working-class support for Labour. Since 1997 the proportion of working-class people voting Labour has gone down from 64% to 32%. Why? Because Labour did not endorse or support working-class candidates anymore. This rather than the Blue Labour preoccupation with the reactionary working-class is the real reason. Thus class and economic policy rather than migration and populism is the real reason.

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This should make it clear that the radical change in direction under Corbyn will enable those working-class voters to be regained for Labour and there is some evidence that this occurred in 2017. Where there was a large Ukip vote in 2015 and a Ukip candidate this time, the Conservatives gained on Labour, but where Ukip was not on the ballot the Tories and Labour fared about equally – a pattern first identified by BBC Newsnight’s Chris Cook. (FT 14.6.17)

So to further increase the Labour vote we need to further increase the likelihood of working class voters returning to it. This requires a particular approach and a refutation of the patronising middle-class view of the working class as all reactionary UKIP bigots.

There must be a clear attempt to increase the proportion of elected representatives from the working class. The current situation makes dire reading. Cairney et al (2016) show that 36.8% of Labour MPs were from a Professional background in 2010, only 8.7% were from a blue or white collar background.. Shamefully however it is amongst MEPs that we find the greatest problem. In 2014 amongst its 20 MEPS not 1 came from a blue or white collar background and 5% came from a business background.

Ipsos Mori showed (https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/how-britain-voted-2017-election) that not many of those who did not vote in 2015 and 2016 voted in 2017. However of those that did, 60% of them voted for Labour. The emphasis on inequality and injustice in the Manifesto must contribute to this

However to follow this up we need to ensure we seek to get as many people registered as possible and identify those wards where there seems to be a marked difference between the electoral register and the population and then secondly to create an appeal to those who still resist voting Labour to explain that the Labour party is now safe for working-class people. This does however mean constantly challenging ignorant middle class stereotypes found even amongst Labour members about the working class being right-wing and reactionary. We must think carefully about our message and our candidates.

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published this page in Members Blog 2018-03-15 16:18:03 +0000

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