The Left’s Loathing of the Working Class – Conservative Article
In light of Sir Keir Starmer’s recent visit to The Raven in Bath, now seems like a good time to discuss a perpetual issue of politics. Why does Labour despise the working class?
A major schism between the working class and Labour is its leader. Sir Keir Starmer’s election as leader of the Labour Party caused a great deal of upset for their working-class voters. A knighted lawyer from London becoming the leader of supposedly the largest organisation of the British working class; madness.
This disenfranchisement, however, started before Sir Keir Starmer’s rise to the top. As shown by the 2019 election results, not only did the Conservatives win an 80 seat majority, but they managed to destroy the ‘red wall’. A measured individual would be critical and ask the question, why did Boris Johnson do so well in this election? It appears the top brass at Labour have not.
Going back to The Raven in Bath, it is obvious that Sir Keir dealt with the situation badly. But he really shot himself in the foot with his concluding comment to the landlord in which he said, “I really don’t need lectures from you about this pandemic.”
The Labour leadership look down on the working class. From watching the video, it is clear Sir Keir is talking down to the landlord, Rod Humphris. Rod, however, is a lifelong Labour voter and clearly, he is exactly the kind of person Sir Keir should be listening to. Pushing aside one’s stance on the pandemic, Rod is clearly distressed by Labour’s failure to act as an opposition party, something I have commented on previously.
Dislike for the working class is actually quite an inherent feature of the middle and upper-class Left. George Orwell delves into this topic many times throughout his career. Most prominently in his book ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’, as well as some of his essays; ‘Inside the Whale’, ‘My Country Right or Left’, ‘Antisemitism in Britain’ etc. His use of “English plain style” appealed to the working class as his writings were accessible, unlike his condescending contemporaries.
Orwell is a self-described social democrat. Despite coming from a relatively privileged background, he has a strong sensitivity towards the working class in his writings. Frequently being polemical about the left-wing Labour intelligentsia, whom he nicknamed the “pansy-left circles”, for their undeserved self-righteousness and sense of superiority over others. Champagne socialism as it were.
Orwell’s criticisms of the Left are apparently still as true today as they were in the 1940s. Paul Embery’s recent book, ‘Despised: Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class’ is equally eye-opening. Embery’s book has been championed all across the political spectrum; from Douglas Murray and Nick Timothy to Jon Cruddas and Gloria De Piero.
Embery argues that “Labour has become radically out of step with the culture and values of working-class Britain.”
Orwell was sensing this in the early 20th century, Embery is simply highlighting it in the present day. The pan-political support of his book is a testament to this. Even the CPBML praise the book and criticise the Labour Party. If communists think you are doing a bad job of something, you really should be worried.
Overall, Labour has failed the working class. Even traditional Labour institutions such as trade unions are now dominated by the middle and upper classes. The nonsense that is ‘wonkiness has certainly done a great deal to disenfranchise the working class. Moreover, Labour’s failure to acknowledge the debunking of Britain being institutionally racist has further alienated itself from the average person.
I am not saying the Conservatives are head over heels for the working class, but the 2019 vote shift proves Conservative popularity with the working class. The despise is even present at universities, I have seen and felt it from self-described Labour voters. The Exeter 93% Club is trying to combat this by aiding social mobility and fighting snobbery.
I do not believe that the working class need Labour; organisations like the 93% club are doing the jobs Labour forfeited a long time ago. Labour are pulling up the ladders behind them… If they even had to climb the ladder in the first place.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Peter Pearce
Point of Information
Shallow and Misses the Bigger Picture – A Labour Response
Common to many conservatives these days, my colleague takes an incredibly nuanced subject and with little understanding boils it down to “woke” lefties ruining everything. We are in changing times and Labour needs to find a new way. What wisdom did we learn from our past defeats?
George Orwell wrote about the working class of his time, just as any socialist thinker will do. We will not get anywhere applying the material conditions for the world he wrote about to our world today. The working class has advanced too far.
Jeremy Corbyn’s loss in 2019 was not predetermined; many seem quick to forget, some of whom are a part of this party, that in 2017 Corbyn got the biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945 as well as seeing party membership triple in size.
So why didn’t we win in 2019? The most important reason is Brexit; it was the most important issue of the election by far. There is a clear overlap between the red wall and the majority leave areas in the North. This is shown by the Conservatives having a 74% share of the leave vote and being the only large party to outright support leaving immediately. The remain vote was split between Labour and the other parties, as shown by Labour only retaining 49% of the remain vote. A split vote leads to the other guy winning. Shocking I know.
We can dive further in-depth to explain the blue shift in the north. The former industrial heartlands that make up the red wall are getting older and simply, the older you are the more likely you are to vote Conservative.
Another key factor could be trade union membership declining due to decades of systematically dismantling union power as well as the service sector replacing manufacturing work.
Unions are, of course, very progressive institutions and Labour has a long history of collaboration with them. The brutal anti-worker policies of Thatcher started this decline. However, successive Labour governments failed to fix the roof while the sun was shining; assuming these seats would be ours forever.
Conservatives claiming the moral majority, and reducing the interests of northerners as solely being “anti woke”, reaffirms views that northerners are more inherently prejudiced than southerners, which isn’t true. It’s much more complex. There is a social shift towards conservative values for sure. But at the core, it’s much more likely that many of these voters still hold economically and socially populist views; reaffirmed by how hard COVID has hit their areas.
Our friend who kicked Starmer out of his pub even shows this, asking why “we just accepted the loss of all our freedoms?”
Now while “letting the bodies pile high” as Johnson suggests is not a great move, it speaks to the disconnect people feel to the Westminster system.
Onto Paul Embery. I cannot think of a man less equipped to lead a leftist movement. His entire Twitter feed is engaged in a useless cultural war against anyone even slightly progressive. You are not going to win elections and gain popular support by sneering at nurses on Twitter. And by the way, it’s hardly surprising that a Marxist-Leninist fringe party is going to criticize mainstream politicians, especially one as reactionary as the CPBML.
While Paul Embery is clearly an irrelevant figure, he does represent a broader problem in leftist circles. The idea that the working class is divided by race/gender/sexuality/etc. and any appeal to minority workers will somehow alienate white working-class voters is wrong, intolerable and fundamentally goes against the ideals of leftism. Throwing away 64% of the BAME vote is absurd in practical terms but it also shows cowardice that we are not prepared to stand in solidarity of our comrades.
The working class is black, brown, gay and female just as much as it is white, straight and male. This is shown by how diverse union membership is. Furthermore, my colleague shamefully lies that the upper class somehow “dominates unions”, when the report cited says that middle-income workers are more likely to be a part of unions due to the fact that unions provide workers with higher wages.
My colleague also makes the widely unfounded claim that Labour’s basic condemnation of the Sewel report is actively alienating itself from voters. The report itself and everything it misses deserves its own article. However, it is undeniable that minority workers have faced less secure low paying jobs with higher unemployment to boot. We can’t leave these people behind.
We must aim to build worker solidarity; to show that all workers in the UK – no matter your creed – are united and equal. We will never win by simply flying more Union Jacks and being more patriotic. We will never win if people do not know what we stand for. Starmer will never win if he keeps going down this road.
Written by Junior Labour Writer, Joseph McLaughlin
Labour is Not the ‘Push’, Conservatism is the ‘Pull’ – A Liberal Response
My Labour colleague has covered in great depth the holes, discrepancies and flagrant assumptions Peter has made about both the left and the working class.
Therefore, in my response, I would like to talk about how the growth of ‘Blue Collar Conservatism’ has offered an alternative lens through which to view the Conservative Party. Moreover, show how this has behaved as a pull factor for Labour voters rather than the party itself being a push factor.
It is no secret the white working class are a more socially conservative group (I am generalising but based on fact) holding values of family, nation and tradition. Yet, I think this is endemic to the political and economic voicelessness of being the consistently bottom rung (in terms of class) in this country. Values are obviously going to be about retention and ‘conserving’ what you’ve always known. As Labour stray further away from this, it has enabled this wave of blue-collar conservatism to empower the social values that they already hold through populist politics.
What has been most illuminating in writing this response, is the volume of discourse written about this by white working-class people about their disenfranchisement for the Labour Party in news outlets such as the Express, Daily Mail and the Sun. As the readership for these newspapers is predominantly white working-class adults, there is already this notion of you are what you read. Crime, terrorism and immigration when covered in the news have the largest effect on a voter’s decision.
I do not think the Labour Party, per se, has failed the working class. It is just the Conservatives are now more in tune with this particular demographic. But we shall have to see if the Conservatives materialise on their impossible promises to the working class.
Written by Junior Liberal Writer, Lucy Severn
I am going into my second year at the University of Exeter studying a flexible combined honour in Geography and Politics. My interest in politics and geography stems from an interest in current events and the wider world, with geography being the study of all world processes.