It isn’t a lack of working-class MPs that has put off Labour voters, but a lack of sympathy

The study says leaders such as Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock (above) made a concerted effort to select ‘more and more middle-class candidates’ [Image: John Curtis/Rex Shutterstock].

The study says leaders such as Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock (above) made a concerted effort to select ‘more and more middle-class candidates’ [Image: John Curtis/Rex Shutterstock].

This research is mistaken in its conclusion, I reckon.

It isn’t that people are turned off by middle-class MPs; it’s that MPs have chosen to concentrate on middle-class issues and abandoned the working-class.

I was reading an article by another blogger earlier today, stating that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is embarrassed to admit his own background is middle-class. That’s not a reflection of his own behaviour but of others’.

Mr Corbyn is a centre-left politician who wants to increase equality of opportunity among the population of the UK; he has no reason to be embarrassed.

But the fact is that other middle-class MPs in the Labour Party couldn’t give a fig for working-class people. Mr Corbyn would be right to be concerned that he could be lumped in with them if he acknowledges his own class background.

Labour did make a mistake in recruiting middle-class candidates under Kinnock, Blair and the leaders since.

The solution isn’t to exclude anybody, though; it is simply to trust each constituency to put forward its own candidates and not to impose ‘party-approved’ choices who cannot do the job.

The sharp decline in the number of working-class Labour MPs has caused a slump in support among voters with similar backgrounds, according to research that seeks to explain why support has dwindled in the party’s heartlands.

The study says previous leaders such as Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair made a concerted effort to select “more and more middle-class candidates to run for office during the 1980s and 1990s as part of an effort to rebrand,” resulting in success at the ballot box.

But it claims that the “conscious electoral strategy” stored up intractable problems for Labour, as working-class voters, who initially simply didn’t vote in response, are now seeking an alternative.

Source: Lack of working-class Labour MPs has ‘alienated voters’ | Politics | The Guardian


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12 thoughts on “It isn’t a lack of working-class MPs that has put off Labour voters, but a lack of sympathy

  1. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl)

    I dislike the use of the adjective “class”. Class really refers to the way a person comports rather than circumstances of birth. Many people born of humble birth turn out to be so very vastly superior to some of those born from parents of vast wealth and luxurious homes. . I am sure with Jeremy Corbyn we have a potential leader who will concern himself with a fair and responsible attitude for everyone.

  2. hopsail

    When Bob Crow died unexpectedly, and far too early, my heart sank. Then Tony Benn died. To me, it was like the end of the world. “Who’s left?”. Thank Goodness for Jeremy Corbyn. I don’t care if he was brought up in a crystal mansion. He sees and speaks of real, ordinary people, and that’s all that matters.

    1. Leo

      Tony Benn was born a noble and renounced it to become a Labour MP. Just being working class is meaningless in itself unless the person has integrity and honour.

  3. Roy Beiley

    Political leaders increasingly want to run a “tight ship’ with everyone obeying the Party whip. Not really achievable in any Party but the Labour Party seems haunted by the the image of cloth capped working class MP’s getting elected and then rocking the boat.Hence they reverted to sort of “selection by social status” thinking that a Party of “middle classcuniform thinking” MP’s would attract votersxaway from the Tories. Kinnock was the original advocate of this and Blair made it a reality.
    What they misunderstood and still do is that a Party which resents having to represent the oft quoted “broad church” of Labour supporters is eventually going to be challenged on its values and that is what is happening now with JC. How can an Opposition Party which shares most of the Tory Party’s radical agenda realistically be termed an ‘Opposition ‘ Party? Politics has become an Oligopoly offering no real choices only variations on a theme. Real butter or Utterly Butterly as the only alternative?

  4. mohandeer

    Not sure about the logic applied here. Working class myself I thought Neil Kinnock was an arrogant egotistical prig and I was right. I thought the same of Blair and I was right. But one could hardly call Wedgy Benn – working class, but class he had in spades and I would have voted for him. John Smith wasn’t working class either but I would have voted for Labour had he lived. The truth is that you can be a toff or a toe nail and it doesn’t matter as long as you have people’s respect and faith. I didn’t know JC’s class when I read his manifesto or Corbynomics, I just liked the way he engaged with people and understood their situation. Andy Burnham purports to be working class and for as long as he remains loyal to JC’s vision and ethics, despite not agreeing with all that Corbyn envisages, he gets my vote and I don’t really care what class he belongs in. Too many “working class” MP’s have proven that class signifies very little, the sins of greed and power lust don’t discriminate between class, you’re either a greedy self serving b*****d or you are not.

    1. Zippi

      Not that those of the Middle Classes don’t work but that those of the “£ower Classes” have lost their representation in Parliament. We are all entitled to representation but what do you do when your representatives no longer represent you? Who is there to speak for you? Who is there to make known your plight? The lower classes have been demonised, scapegoated, ridiculed, pilloried, exploited, misrepresented. What we must not forget is that behind the label “Class” are real people with real problems, who feel real pain, hardship, anguish, torment, fear and hurt, just like everybody else. These things are human and shouldn’t come with a price tag.

  5. NMac

    Middle Class MPs don’t have to abandon the majority. Clement Attlee was very much a middle class person, but he stood up for working class people.

  6. Leo

    Being working class doesn’t mean you’re good or that you care about the people in the class you originally were as a part of. Liam Byrne and John Prescott are examples of two men with humble origins, one clever and amoral the other as thinks as two short planks and immoral, who prove my point.

    What Labour needs are GOOD MEN AND GOOD WOMEN wherever they come form.

    Being working class is not surety of quality or steadfastness.

Comments are closed.