Fire-fighter, Trade Unionist and Labour party activist Paul Emery discusses the existential plight of Labour following Friday's disastrous by-election result in Hartlepool. In a devastating analysis he traces the roots of the current crisis and identifies the fault-lines which now threaten to destroy Labour's historic coalition for good.
"The schism between the party and the working class began to materialise as long as three decades ago." he agues. "The historical coalition in which Hartlepool had for generations rubbed along contentedly with Hampstead — blue collar and white collar united in the struggle for social and economic justice — started to fall apart as Labour began to be dominated by the latter, transforming itself into a party of the managerial and professional classes, graduates and urban liberals.
Not only was the party abandoning those in provincial and post-industrial Britain, it started to privately — and sometimes publicly — scorn them. The inevitable result was the steady flow of working-class votes away from Labour. Some were swept up by the likes of Ukip and even the BNP; millions more from that point simply went uncast."
He suggests that the concessions wrought by New Labour from its traditional base to make it more electorally appealing to Middle England in the 1990's now need to be repaid. Among other things it means "understanding the small-“c” conservatism and proclivity for social solidarity and cultural attachment that exists across large parts of provincial and post-industrial Britain.
It also means being prepared to put front and centre the doorstep issues — law and order, immigration, national security — which Labour activists are usually uncomfortable discussing. If that means that topics such as LGBT rights, climate change, gender identity, Palestine and the next woke cause that comes along must take more of a back seat, so be it. The party must begin to look and sound again like those who have abandoned it and reflect their priorities. Until that happens, it will be relegated to the status of a middle-class pressure group."
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