Where are the working people in the PARTY of the workers?

Ed Miliband desperately needs to change Labour image away from being a bunch of middle-class lawyers, barely different from the Conservatives, and back to being the party of the workers[Image: Reuters].

Ed Miliband desperately needs to change Labour image away from being a bunch of middle-class lawyers, barely different from the Conservatives, and back to being the party of the workers[Image: Reuters].

Ed Miliband is talking the talk, but can he walk the walk?

According to the BBC, he’s saying Labour is still the party of working people – but that’s a claim that many may find hard to believe after Emily Thornberry’s incriminatingly insensitive tweet and the revelation that his leadership is likely to ‘parachute’ its preferred candidates into the constituencies of MPs who decide to retire from Parliament in the run-up to the next election.

It seems there may even be a rumour that a senior member of Labour’s health team is about to defect to UKIP.

Here’s Miliband’s problem:

Emily Thornberry, also known as Lady Nugee, now-former shadow attorney general, born in north Surrey to a Visiting Professor of War Studies at King’s College London and a teacher. Barrister. Has spoken on the need for more affordable housing – but her husband, Sir Christopher Nugee QC, had bought ex-social housing stock for over half a million pounds and receives rental income from the property. She’s clearly the wife of a millionaire and her only contact with the working class is professional. What does she know about how working people live?

Let’s look at Labour’s health team:

Liz Kendall, shadow minister for care and older people, attended Watford Grammar School for Girls and Queens’ College, Cambridge. Has worked for two charities and a thinktank before becoming a SPAD (special advisor) to two cabinet ministers. What does she know about working people?

Luciana Berger, shadow minister for public health, educated at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls, a private school in Elstree, Hertfordshire, the University of Birmingham, ICADE in Madrid and Birkbeck, University of London. Worked for management consultancy Accenture advising FTSE 100 companies including Barclays and BP, as well as the London Stock Exchange, Accenture’s Government Strategy Unit supporting government departments including the Treasury, and became Government and Parliamentary Manager for the National Health Service Confederation. Director of Labour Friends of Israel from 2007-2010. Labour was accused of ‘parachuting’ her in as a candidate for Liverpool Waverley in the 2010 elections. What does she know about working people?

And Labour is likely to ‘parachute’ even more “preferred” candidates into seats that become vacant between now and the election, it seems.

Will any of these “preferred” candidates have had a real job? Are there any ex-factory workers among them? Manual workers of any kind?

Dennis Skinner used to be a miner. His recent ousting from Labour’s National Executive Committee was met with outcry across the party.

Aneurin Bevan also used to be a miner. He went on to become the architect of the National Health Service that the Coalition government is busily breaking up and handing over to Conservative Party donor companies.

If Labour was really the party of working people, it would offer voters the chance to choose working people as their MPs. Instead we see an unending flow of lawyers, advisers and thinktank staffers who’ve never done an honest day’s work in their lives – while working people are sidelined.

That’s the dilemma facing Ed Miliband.

Where are the working people in the party of the workers?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. leatherbackebook November 22, 2014 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    Emily Thornberry was raised in a Guilford Council estate and became successful. And now wants the opportunities available for others to have the success they want. As does anyone who is in or votes Labour.

  2. Jim Round November 22, 2014 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    It is doubtful that we will ever have anyone “working class” in the main political parties.
    What is it with all this “class” business anyway,Britain is one of the.few countries with all that nonsense.

  3. Brian F Bridge November 22, 2014 at 11:04 pm - Reply

    It is true Jim. There is no longer a working class ‘cos there is no longer any work, just slaves serving Professionals. The WORK is now done abroad, and we have to sell off everything to keep up the pretence of being a productive country. So what are you jim lad slave or Professional?

    • Mike Sivier November 22, 2014 at 11:59 pm - Reply

      More work is done here than you might think! I live in a very small town but we have several factories here producing manufactured goods. In Newtown, just up the road, there are large factories too. We could have more! Don’t get me wrong. And we could manage these places in better ways – I’m all for co-operatives. So there remains a working class in the UK.
      That’s not to say that you’re wrong, though – I reckon there are slaves and professionals (if that’s what you want to call them) as well.

    • Jim Round November 23, 2014 at 2:17 am - Reply

      I am neither Brian. As I said, I have never subscribed to this “class” nonsense, what makes any member of the so called “ruling classes” better than me or you?
      I just strive to provide for myself and my family whilst trying to help others along the way.

      • Ian Duncan November 23, 2014 at 3:10 am - Reply

        Nothing makes the ruling class better than anyone here but the fact you acknowledge they exist means you do, in a way, subscribe to this class nonsense.

        You might not think of yourself as a particular class but you can be very sure many people will judge you as one class or another. Your accent, background, wage, education amongst many other things will be the tells people use. Whether they see you as an inferior, superior or an equal because of it is another matter but that in turn will tell you a lot about them

        I don’t think anyone could argue Dennis Skinner and Tony Blair were of the same class, for instance. Though, conversely, the lower class one actually has more class (in the other sense of the word) than the middle class one could ever dream of having.

  4. Jane Hartley Jacques November 23, 2014 at 12:20 am - Reply

    I would point to the recent election of Liz Mckinnes, MP for Heywood and Middleton. Liz worked in the Pathology labs at North Manchester General Hospital and was also a Union Rep in her job. I have even seen her on the bus at times!!

    • Mike Sivier November 23, 2014 at 12:37 am - Reply

      She’s certainly better – comprehensive school education but clearly good enough to get to Oxford and go on to become a biochemist, working for the National Health Service (a real career).

      • Jane Hartley Jacques November 23, 2014 at 10:33 pm - Reply

        I don’t know why having a career in Pathology in the NHS or having a degree after going to a comprehensive scholl in the seventies/early eighties is negative for being an MP for the Labour party. Many jobs in the NHS are degree entry. Having a degree and an NHS career hardly makes you a closet Tory. Liz is just the kind of person Labour needs to get as MPs’, with real life experience and NHS, Union experience, and also having been a local Councellor in recent years.

        • Mike Sivier November 23, 2014 at 11:39 pm - Reply

          It’s not – I was saying that this is better. Rightly or wrongly, my belief is that people from comprehensives had to work harder, especially to get into the top universities, and then she went on to a career putting what she had learnt to good use in the NHS. She’s had a job and worked in it for many years. That’s a million miles better than the public-school-educated, never-had-a-real-job, party animals that I was trying to highlight in the article.

  5. Mike Sivier November 23, 2014 at 12:27 am - Reply

    Ian Duncan sent this reply. Unfortunately another commenter has complained about an offensive word in his avatar. Rather than continue causing offense, I’ve decided to repeat his words in a comment of my own. I won’t keep doing this forever though, Ian, so if you want to continue being seen here, please change your avatar to one that won’t cause offence!

    Ian Duncan writes: Remember the hoo-haa over the candidacy of Georgia Gould? Her daddy was a party high-up she got a run at a safe seat when she was barely out of her mother’s birth canal.

    Working class potential candidates must be getting disheartened by the hypocrisy and futility at their faces – well, accents – not fitting.

  6. Techno November 23, 2014 at 8:13 am - Reply

    Take my MP, Rachel Reeves. Did PPE at Oxford, which is the same university and subject as David Cameron. Worked as banker at Bank of England and HBOS. Married to a director in the civil service.

    Labour used to be the party that represented those who were being screwed by the establishment. Now Labour ARE the establishment.

    We need a new political party that represents the interests of those who feel excluded and exploited by the powerful. At the moment only UKIP is getting anywhere close, as far as I’m concerned.

    • Mike Sivier November 23, 2014 at 12:51 pm - Reply

      No, we need to take back the party that used to represent those being exploited by the powerful. UKIP is just another party for the very, very rich. I’m surprised you haven’t realised that yet.

    • Ian Duncan November 23, 2014 at 8:15 pm - Reply

      The UKIP that wants a flat tax that will leave the average person worse off? The UKIP that wants to privatise the NHS? The UKIP that is chock full of right wing headcases?

      Man, have you ever been suckered…

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