‘Out of touch and under threat’, Sunday People, 26 February, 2017.

LABOUR was founded to represent the interests of working people. But it was a lot simpler when those people had a lot in common with each other and many MPs came from ordinary backgrounds.

As the service sector overtook manufacturing, the welfare state grew, home ownership and the consumer society expanded, more women entered the labour market, the middle class grew and the traditional working class shrank in size, the party had to appeal to a broader mass of voters.

At the same time, Labour’s ranks at Westminster were filled by middle-class graduates, many with more liberal attitudes on issues like immigration and law than the working-class MPs they replaced. Over time, Labour’s traditional core vote saw a party that no longer looked and sounded like them and which seemed more interested in political correctness than fighting to give them a bigger share of the nation’s wealth.

This triggered a vicious circle – as working-class voters drifted away, the party drifted further from them.

Reversing that process will take a miracle – and certainly a very different leader from Jeremy Corbyn.


About tpbale

I teach politics at Queen Mary University of London.
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