Saturday, August 09, 2014

Labour without its traditional voters

This article by John Clarke on the LabourList website is fascinating:

Labour have taken the white working class for granted for so long that they no longer know how to woo them.

And this is at a time when the squeeze on living standards (caused by Labour's economic mismanagement in 2008 of course) has caused large sections of the population to re-evaluate their "class" with many redefining themselves from middle class to working class.

Class is of course a cultural construct.  Households may self-identify as middle-class if they feel relatively well-off and optimistic about the future (even if their discretionary income is not all that great).  The same households when experiencing sustained difficulties will shed their middle-class pretensions (foreign holidays, kumquats from Sainsbury's, clothes with designer labels) and assert they are plain working class.

Just as Gordon Brown sold off the gold reserves just before the price of gold shot up, so Labour jettisoned the white working class just as that class resumed a position of key importance in national elections.

"Labour without its traditional voters is the SDP – and look what happened to them" says John Clarke.

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