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Whose side is Labour on? A vital new report into tackling economic inequality has been all but ignored by the Party

Meet the news boss. (Sort of) same as the old boss (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Meet the news boss. (Sort of) same as the old boss (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)


May 26, 2020   4 mins

When Labour was obliterated at the ballot box in December — an outcome that a handful of us within its ranks saw coming a mile off, but which left most dumbstruck — it should have represented a moment of profound realisation within the party. It should have been the catalyst for an immediate recalibration of thinking and priorities.

The Party’s offer of a cocktail of liberal globalism mixed with a generous dash of revolutionary student activism — an unappealing blend of Lennon and Lenin, if you will — had alienated its once-loyal working-class base. Millions of its former supporters voted, instead, for an old Etonian in charge of a party which had spent the past decade imposing austerity on them and their communities.

Working-class voters — particularly in England — emphatically rejected the destructive creeds of identity politics and class war into which Labour had become so immersed, throwing their lot in with a party that many had hitherto regarded as their traditional enemy. Labour’s values were no longer their values.

Yet, five months on, there is little sign that Labour has learned any real lessons from the rout. The post-mortem, such as it was, largely sought to pin the blame for the party’s worst general election result since 1935 on Brexit, or Jeremy Corbyn’s unpopularity, or on a hostile media. All these things unquestionably had an impact — but none tells the whole story.

And the refusal to examine the wider causes — principally that the Party’s ideology, priorities and shifting demographic have increasingly taken it away from its working-class roots — means there is little chance in the near future of the organisation undergoing the radical transformation necessary to regain electoral credibility. In the eyes of many activists, it was the electorate that failed Labour — not the other way round.

Thus, these foot soldiers continue to obsess about fringe issues, in which most voters have little more than a passing interest, while relegating to a sideshow the everyday concerns they see as relevant to their lives.

A telling example of the party’s misplaced priorities can be seen in the reaction (or, more pertinently, the lack of it) to the release last week of a report, Manufacturing a recovery from Coronavirus, on the dire state of British manufacturing and the measures necessary to revive it — and the wider economy — once the impending crash has done its worst.

The report, published by the Institute for Prosperity, a new think-tank headed up by veteran Labour economist, donor and businessman John Mills — one of the finest economic minds on the Left — charts the decline of our manufacturing base (in 1970, it accounted for nearly a third of our GDP; today less than 10%), pinpoints the reasons for it (chiefly a lack of competitiveness caused through a perennially over-valued pound), and provides a road map for reinvigorating it. By anyone’s standards, it is a thoughtful and analytical piece of work deserving of the widest debate.

In the report’s foreword, Caroline Flint — who lost her ‘Red Wall’ seat of Don Valley at the election — rightly articulates the case for tackling regional inequalities through a ‘muscular economic nationalism’. As we emerge from the straitjacket of the EU, and as the downsides of globalisation — not least our over-reliance on global supply chains — are laid bare by the pandemic, people are looking again to the protective state for economic security. The report could not, therefore, be more timely.

There was a time, of course, when this type of debate would be meat and drink to the Labour party, for it goes to the heart of what the party ought to be about, namely shielding working-class communities from economic turbulence, setting the conditions that allow for the creation of thousands of solid blue-collar jobs in thriving and sustainable industries, and rebalancing economic priorities away from finance capital and towards the real economy where goods are produced and wealth created.

What better way to show lost Labour voters in post-industrial and small-town England — who are, after all, among those most afflicted by the phenomenon of deindustrialisation — that Labour gets the message and is now on their side than to place issues like those raised in the Institute for Prosperity report at the centre of the party’s agenda and messaging?

Yet, on the day the report was released, just two Labour MPs — so far as I could see, at least — showed any public interest in it (bravo Stephen Kinnock and Stephanie Peacock). The rest of the wider labour movement — including trade union leaders — appeared indifferent, or oblivious, to it.

That such a vital report seemed to pique the interest of so few inside the Labour Party is profoundly depressing — though it should really come as no surprise. It has over recent years become blindingly apparent that only a handful in the party ever venture to discuss these sorts of macroeconomic questions. Matters of employment, growth and prosperity can jolly well take their place behind the campaign for trans rights and Palestine in the queue of priorities.

As it happens, the publication of the report coincided with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. You can guess which took precedence on the Twitter feeds of Labour MPs during those 24 hours.

For all the responsibility he bears for December’s crushing defeat — he was, let us not forget, the architect of the disastrous second referendum policy — Sir Keir Starmer has at least offered some encouraging early indications that he understands what needs to be done to recover lost working-class Labour votes. The appointment of Claire Ainsley — a pro-family campaigner who has written positively of Brexit — as director of policy, and his own video call with voters in Bury, during which he emphasised the importance of patriotism, suggests Sir Keir recognises that there is no path back to power for Labour that does not pass through its old heartlands and win back the hearts and minds of the voters residing there

But if that is the mountain to be climbed — and it most certainly is — then the party itself remains stuck in the foothills. And until it throws itself wholeheartedly and full-throatedly into discussing the issues that matter to working-class England, it will stay there.


Paul Embery is a firefighter, trade union activist, pro-Brexit campaigner and ‘Blue Labour’ thinker

PaulEmbery

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Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

Not a hope in hell you can ever represent or understand us again.
Your party has not been the party of the working class for decades, it just took the EU referendum to clear away the fantasy that labour represent the working class.
You new leader is the architect of the Labour Brexit policy which wanted to over turn the largest democratic vote in this country’s history, we will never forget what you did about Brexit or what you said about us

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

Absolutely. The absolutely disgusting and undignified way in which Labour, the face of the Liberal Establishment, narrated and framed in the most dehumanising ways possible, the legitimate ‘ecological science’ concerns of the working class, whether population ecology, land ecology, social productivity and most importantly national resilience, was an absolute insult to the self educating working class.

Our ecological based intelligence outwitted these so called educated experts and professionals at every turn and at every stage of the Brexit debate and still, after 4 long years they still resist our knowledge, our expertise and our self education.

When these professional charlatans can actually articulate a concrete and comprehensive supranational or global framework by which they can assure us of our national resilience, including our population ecology concerns, then just maybe these human rights charlatans will actually understand that social productivity enhancements come with the happiness of having our fundamental basic needs met.

In other words, they have ignored the Institute of Prosperity report because it is a NATIONAL resilience framework and not a SUPRANATIONAL or GLOBAL one.

In the meantime, in order to drown out their acute knowledge deficiencies, their only agenda seems to be their puerile engagement with a politico-cultural-identity war with Conservative Establishment elites with their only discernible goal being, to ruin the country with their ongoing media propoganda war (Project Fear 3 inevitably being the next chapter) and then hope from the ruins they will prosper.

In other words, their deeply sociopathic and misanthropic ‘spoilt/liberal’ rage is the true face of their kinder, fairer and greener political agenda.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Good, solid, sensible stuff from Paul as always. But I don’t think Labour will ever again be on the side of normal, productive people – and certainly not those in the private sector. It simply goes against all the core beliefs they have adopted over the last 40 years. To represent such people the party would have to ditch everything it now believes in, almost with almost all its MPs, strategists and advisors etc.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
3 years ago

An excellent article. But why kid yourself Paul? The Labour Party that represented the working classes is gone for good.

Come vote Tory like the rest of us.

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago

Unfortunately Labour are tied in a similar knot to all the other parties and it is the “net zero” target for carbon emissions. To achieve that target we have to continue the exportation of carbon emission to other countries, primarily China but also India, Vietnam, etc. Therefore this report goes against that key (virtue signalling) policy.

If we are going to be realistic about our carbon emission we need to consider the total emission our economy requires and then look at how to reduce that number, not export and forget which is the current policy. A key element of that would be returning manufacturing to this country and to do that we need a policy to reduce energy prices. Most of Labour’s support is now drawn from the metropolitan middle class who have accept the whole “man made climate change” debate without question, just so long as they can still get their cheap flights to go skiing in Switzerland for a week in winter and two weeks in Italy in the summer every year.

I’m afraid Labour will not consider the old red wall seats or a policy on industrialisation because it’s new core supports will object.

Robert Flack
Robert Flack
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

And yet no word from environmentalists about Germany continuing to burn lignite or their new gas pipeline with Russia.

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Flack

Nope, because most of the environmentalists (like Caroline Lucas) are fanatically pro EU and like to ignore pollution in EU countries while beating up the UK

Simon Phillips
Simon Phillips
3 years ago

Looking at the calibre of many of the current Labour MPs, it’s likely they won’t even understand the document, let alone be able to mount a campaign based on its contents.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Phillips

The ‘calibre’ of current Labour MPs is an interesting one. Many of them are indeed undeniably ‘thick’, lacking all knowledge of history, economics, geography, science and,,,well, everything. I noticed this some years ago and it seems to signal a gradual inversions with respect to the two main parties.

A few decades ago it tended to the privately educated Tory MPs who were often rather dim and totally discounted from all knowledge or reality, while the Labour MPs were Grammar or state school educated and rather more intelligent and knowledgeable.

As you say, it is now the Labour MPs who are preternaturally dim, and often from quite privileged backgrounds, while the latest cohort of Tory MPs is somewhat smarter and often from relatively disadvantaged backgrounds.

David Waring
David Waring
3 years ago

Why Labour of course is now only on the side of the Human Rights Lawyers and their needy client base. The rest of us can go hang.

Robert Flack
Robert Flack
3 years ago

I totally agree with Paul’s position but I honestly just cannot see Labour doing it. If there were a political party that had a sensible energy policy, wanted Brexit, supported families and supported manufacturing I would join in a heartbeat.

D Alsop
D Alsop
3 years ago

Great article once again from Paul, if only there were more people like him in the Labour party, sadly i dont see it happening anytime soon. Its fully morphed into the party of the permanently offended that i dont see it coming back to being for the working man.

Both main parties are in theory dead and a long way from what they once were, sadly people vote for them still out of blind loyalty and by doing so nothing ever changes which is a real shame.

Take the Tories, most of the cabinet would walk straight into Bla*rs cabinet no problem at all and be happy with his policies, yet everyone that voted Tory would never think this as they just blindly vote blue.

Labour is the same, it is now so obsessed by issues which no one really cares to much about save for the comment section of the Guardian that it has forgotten what it was started for – the betterment of the working man in Britain

David Simpson
David Simpson
3 years ago
Reply to  D Alsop

No, not blindly. I like many others (and a former Corbyn supporter – voted for him twice ) voted for BoJo to get Brexit done. And by that point his economic policies were not that different from Corbyn’s. Corbyn and Labour were stuffed by remoaners and back stabbers like Starmer, who refused to accept the country had decided to leave the EU, and would do anything to undermine Corbyn.

mishfeinstein
mishfeinstein
3 years ago

It isn’t mentioned in this article, and it perhaps should be, that under Jeremy Corbyn a renaissance in manufacturing was put front and centre of Labour’s economic strategy, the first time had been even contemplated by any party for decades. Sadly this message was drowned out in 2019 by a staggeringly hostile media and a needless debate on a second referendum, a debate which wouldn’t have happened had it not been the relentless pressure of the second referendum campaign. It was these campaigners that were the primary saboteurs of Labour’s election hopes, not this mythical trans rights obsession in the party that Paul speaks of – trans issues only had one sentence in the 2019 manifesto!

Robert Flack
Robert Flack
3 years ago
Reply to  mishfeinstein

Misha I honestly don’t remember Labour’s manufacturing policy. If it had one then it certainly didn’t appear in the headlines during the election.

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Flack

I wonder why that was, large planks of solid serious bread and butter issues in the manifesto were either ignored of wronly described

Colin Sandford
Colin Sandford
3 years ago

I’m afraid Paul you are a lone voice in the Labour Party wilderness as others have said it no longer represents the workingman/woman.
The Labour Party’s huge envy chip has dragged it to the floor.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago

I really do like Paul Embery’s writing for Unherd.

In the eyes of many activists, it was the electorate that failed Labour ” not the other way round.

Nail, head.

I am convinced that these activists actually believed that the electorate thought and felt the same way that they did, which is why they think the electorate failed them.
Bubble dwelling activists capable of contorting external reality so it re-affirmed their own beliefs.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats have completely sold out and reneged on their previously electable core party political beliefs. Currently there is only one party making the right noises. And that’s what the electorate voted for (even if some did have to hold their noses whilst putting their cross in the box), something they recognised.

I wonder if it is going to take another absolute drubbing at the polls in 2024-25 before either party starts to accept that the electorate haven’t taken the media kool aid. The electorate can see what the media is doing, and they know that whatever is behind it is not going to be good for them.

Thinking forward, in 10 years the electorate will be a different demographic than it is now. In my humble opinion, Labour and the LD’s should be trying to figure out who the electorate is going to be, what will they want and how you can give them that.
Forget the working class, I think they’re a mythical thing from the past.

Hosias Kermode
Hosias Kermode
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

What the economy will be and therefore what the electorate of the future will look like have both been made more difficult to guess by the pandemic. Will we go back to normal? Or will we have to get used to the idea of a “new normal”? Will certain service industries become unprofitable, as a result of our continuing fears? Will we bring more manufacturing on shore again, as a result of both Covid and Brexit? Will the balance between service, finance and manufacturing change? Where and how will people live as a result of all this? It’s going to be interesting.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

It is gonna be interesting, just not good interesting I suspect.

angersbeagle
angersbeagle
3 years ago

I totally agree with the writer, this ought to be meat and drink for the Labour party, they should be all over this report.
Until those at the top or in positions of influence develop a spine and are prepared to take on the Twitter mob, it will be business as usual.
This writer’s little dig “Lennon and Lenin” very good…”Š”Š.

madeuop names
madeuop names
3 years ago

Whose side is Labour on? Labour’s and their liberal elite friends.

ruthengreg
ruthengreg
3 years ago

Paul has hit the nail square on. To be plain I voted Tory and have done for a number of years. However I do want a strong Labour Party to challenge the Tories. Now in Sir Keir Starker they have a chance but they must take it. I like many Tory voters are becoming alarmed at what is going on. I thought we voters voted for strong idealist? Now it seems this is not quite correct. Boris appears to be blindly back Mr Cummings. Whereas the “Jury” appears to very much against it. Now there’s infighting. Just like Labour. Confidence is drawing daily in the Government. Dominic has not done wrong by his family, he put them first no blame. But his version is not at all convincing. This is preventing us moving alone in other areas which to be honest are not making progress. Labour has not made the Political gains it could do and has behaved remarkable well. Full marks it’s sensibly left that to the Press, but they are screwing that up good and proper. So full marks labour keep that way. Learn from this little success let others be guided. Yes go for an enquiry. Why was the only task to save the NHS? We’re Were the Government worried previously made savage cuts a problem? That would win an election alone. Don’t dwell on what tactics were used but why. The other thing to avoid is being linked to leftwing activists. Yes you need Union support but not to be a mouth piece for them. Cut out the Union bosses talk to the people. This Boris did like no other Politician full marks. But his blind loyalty is like Caesar and the Ides of March. Labour needs to think a little outside of the box and ignore Momentum. Most voters are not paid up members.

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
3 years ago

I fear Paul that the appointment of Claire Ainsley is yet another Liberal Establishment charade and yet another example by which our democratic freedoms are exploited by Liberal Establishment sociopaths.

It is a clever double bind that they are using and one that could only be masterminded by highly intelligent sociopaths. The double bind being, exploit our democratic freedoms and then claim injustice when we seek to curtail their exploitation of our democratic freedoms.

It is the need to curtail their exploitation of our democratic freedoms that is at the heart of conservatism. Do we want to apply the strict hand of Conservatism and conserve our democratic institutions or do we want to apply the spoilt hand of Liberalism and allow them to run amok and destroy our democratic institutions.

I know where I lie as a working class person and without our own political party then the frugality of the Tories to remain within EU excessive deficit protocols was and is a much better prospect than the anti Brexit, anti-national, anti-conservative, anti-democratic Liberal Establishment.

Hence the recent orchestrated attack on Dominic Cummings, a true representative of the working class. An attack that was an attempt to shift working class opinion against our main representative. There are highly intelligent sociopaths driving their agenda and they need to be identified.

However, for the time being, Brexit means we hold the balance of power which neither the Liberal Establishment or the Conservative Establishment can take away from us unless of course the Liberal Establishment joins forces with the Conservative Establishment.

This means our strategy still needs thinking through which needs a meeting of working class minds.

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
3 years ago

This is very much Paul Embery territory. The Narrative goes, “once upon a time the working class all voted for the Labour Party because it was a Union-based working-class political party of largely conservative, patriotic views which has been over-run by a cadre of middle-class liberals obsessed with “Identity Politics” (whatever that is) leaving the working-class with no-where to go but the Tories. As some have already said on this thread, trans rights, which seem to cause Embery so many sleepless nights was but a single line in the Labour 2019 manifesto, most of which was concerned with issues to get the productive economy working better and reducing the level of rampant inequality between the many and the few.

It is worth doing a bit closer analysis, incidentally, of the so-called “red wall”. Some of those seats (Workington, Bolsover) have been moving away from Labour for years, just in the same way as seats in suburban London have been moving towards Labour for two decades. In a lot of the Red-wall seats Labour in 2017 got its best share of the poll for 20 years (although the Labour Party no longer speaks of this election); in 2019 the labour vote substantially went to the Brexit Party not the Tories but the shift gave the Tories the seat.

Embery could do with a short history lesson on the Party. It came together with a combination of the Trade Unions’s desire for political representation (and for a while they were happy for the Liberals to provide this) and people of a more theoretical socialist and even Marxist background It has always been a volatile but ultimately creative mixture. There were public school and Oxbridge members of Attlee’s 1945 Cabinet (including Attlee). Even in the 1950s when class politics was probably at its strongest, probably about 35-40% of working class voters supported the Conservatives (apart from in mining constituencies).

Unfortunately Embery (like many and this is not an accusation of racism) seems to feel words “working-class” need to be preceded by the word “white”. It conjures up a man in flat cap and overalls setting off to work with his tin sandwiches and flask of tea. This has ceased to be true for some while now. Covid19 has shown us who now are those at the sharp end, doing the dangerous jobs for lowest reward and as we have seen the BAME communities have been badly hit by the virus for that reason. I have no doubt that an energetic policy such as John Mills advocates could and should be pursued with the aim of reviving the “red wall” regions, indeed merely the idea of a regional policy would be an improvement, however the struggles over the next few years will be as much concerned with how the world of work changes and how the Labour Party positions itself in these.

Neil John
Neil John
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

“Covid19 has shown us who now are those at the sharp end, doing the dangerous jobs for lowest reward and as we have seen the BAME communities have been badly hit by the virus for that reason.”
No, BAME ‘communities’ have a number of issues, not least is the inability to social distance especially where they live in multigenerational households, combined with poor Vitamin D levels due to dark skin and genetic endothelial differences, none of which play well in the labour PC bubble.
But lets get down to brass tacks, Labour has hung it’s hat on bringing in as many potential voters as possible, making them dependent on the state and expecting them to be grateful and vote Labour, much like the Demonrats in the USA, whilst playing the PC identity politics divide and conquer game against those who WERE their traditional voter base. The situation in many cities where they actively attempted to hide the industrial scale abuse and rape of predominately white children by their chosen imported potential voters has not helped their case.
These comparatively simple things have taught the established voter base Labour cannot be trusted to support them, the Brexit referendum was as much a protest vote as a desire to bring legislation back to our ‘mother of parliarments’, when it became clear the now middle class Labour party wasn’t listening and seeking to overturn the result, voting Tory was the only way to go.

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

“Covid19 has shown us who now are those at the sharp end, doing the dangerous jobs for lowest reward and as we have seen the BAME communities have been badly hit by the virus for that reason.”

“has been over-run by a cadre of middle-class liberals obsessed with “Identity Politics” (whatever that is)”.

The question here is why you choose to differentiate between the British working class and BAME communities.

Your segregationist perspective is the epitome of identity politics yet you seem completely ignorant that you are actively engaging in identity politics.

Your divide and conquer mentality that seeks to fragment the working class is part of a deeper Liberal Establishment agenda to discriminate between metropolitan immigrants and the provincial indigenous with equality coupled with multicultural balkanisation, the means by which to temper working class collectivity. The aim of the Liberal Establishment is to disorientate the working class and to swamp out working class power with accusations of racism, xenophobia and nativism.

It seems you hold the Liberal Establishment line well

JOE MACVEIGH
JOE MACVEIGH
3 years ago

A good article Paul and a well presented piece.
The GE result whilst not a complete surprise was still shocking in its scale of victory to the Tories.
Being from the North East and seeing former mining communities voting for a Conservative MP both saddened and nauseated me however I was not surprised as the Labour vote had been steadily declining for years.

I have lived in London for many years and can say the Labour Party’s concerns differ from my home area in Durham.
Whilst the common thread of a Labour victory is the goal, there’s definitely different messages of how to get it.

Robert Cannon
Robert Cannon
3 years ago

“Working-class voters ” particularly in England ” emphatically rejected the destructive creeds of identity politics and class war into which Labour had become so immersed, throwing their lot in with a party that many had hitherto regarded as their traditional enemy.”

This is, simply, a lie. It is not only untrue, but Paul Embery knows it is untrue. White English working class voters EMBRACED identity politics and voted for the Conserative Party because of that, just as they had voted for Brexit.

There are many people like me – immigrant, City lawyer, London – who despair at the demise of British manufacturing capability and how conditions are across much of the north of England – I have been to Doncaster; I have been to Hull; I have been to Barrow-in-Furness.

However, Paul Embery won’t do the honest thing and tell the white English working class that they have themselves to blame for their predicament. They wanted more pay than the value of their work so their trades unions destroyed manufacturing companies. They don’t want to look after their own children, so there is a high level of family breakdown, single parent families and children in care. They don’t bother to work in school so even though university degree places are weighted towards the north of England relative to school age population they are filed by people from the south. And, as Caroline Flint has done for years, all of these is everyone else’s fault rather than theirs.

The white English working class are failures in education and failures in life. Surely, it’s enough that those of us who pay £100,000s in tax every year are expected to subsidise the self-employed “beauticians” with their top up tax credits. After four years of anti-migrant hate don’t expect us to give any more care for them.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Cannon

Crikey – you are right about many things but I find your post a little strong. In particular, the English working classes may have embraced identity politics to some extent, but many decades after the left and the media had embraced it and rammed it down their throats. Essentially, they were forced to say ‘OK, if you’re going to play that game…’

All the failures in terms of education and work ethic that you refer to do indeed exist, particularly in terms of education. But this is a consequence of 50 or 60 years of progressive, left-wing education and welfare policies that actively undermined and discouraged work. And I agree with you that it was indeed the unions who ddi more to destroy British industry than bad management or globalism, although of course all three played a role.

Finally, it is bit rich for someone from the City to complain about the death of British industry when it was often rapacious City firms who did a great deal to destroy some of those industries.

Robert Cannon
Robert Cannon
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The anti-City argument rings a bit hollow when over the past 25 years the City of London has been the financial centre for all of Europe. 80% of my work comes from Europe – France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands. Are they in the same state as the north of England.

Yes, private equity ownership of UK companies, loading them up with debt and leaving them to go into administration, is a problem. However, that’s a function of the UK’s tax and insolvency laws. Ask yourself why those laws don’t change.

I don’t see Paul Embery writing about that. Given his job, he might be better served to focus on why a London fire service stuffed with low education, low work ethic white English people (less than 15% ethnic minority compared with 60% ethnic minority population in London) resulted in 72 almost all non-white English people dying in the Grenfell fire. Watching the embarrasment that was Danny Cotton, London fire commissioner, before she resigned, my wife said to me, these white English in the london fire service don’t give a damn about us, do they? And she’s right. People like Paul Embery are the reason that 72 people died in Grenfell. He shouldn’t be in public life.

AJ Spetzari
AJ Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Cannon

You make some valid points (about unions in 70s/80s) etc but they’re lost in the hyperbole and lack of any nuance – i.e. the distinction between immigrant and migrant workers for a start.

Indigenous working class people do not have themselves to blame for their job market being saturated in the past 15-25 years with migrant/immigrant workers. Furthermore the increased health and safety, working standards and living standards cost increases that result in making large tranches of the manufacturing industry in a “first world” country virtually untenable.

On migration/immigration – to be clear – this most certainly isn’t a criticism of migrant/immigrant workers themselves. We have seen unprecedented numbers of motivated and capable people coming from overseas to compete with the indigenous workforce. By nature these are likely to on average be quite capable individuals (they had the motivation to leave home and seek life and work elsewhere, often not in their first language).

But what does that mean for British workers? Probably not much directly for the most capable, but in real and literal terms across industries you see a stagnation and even a reduction in wages as the workforce is saturated. For the less motivated and capable – they cannot compete with sharp and efficient migrant workers. Even for those not less motivated – responsibilities that indigenous families have (higher costs of living etc, time away from family) make working at high levels that much harder when compared to workers who have travelled here with little to no dependencies, can work longer hours for less (because back home the wages are worth 3x or more). There is naturally much more motivation there.

British workers can and will travel when the motivation and incentive is there (see the 1970s). But there is nowhere a British worker can currently go to to earn the equivalent high reward benefits that other nations coming here get. This isn’t a nationality thing mostly – it’s people and motivation.

Education is another whole aspect that literally takes academics’ careers in analysing, but a lot of the dejection and lack of prospects in too many working class families across the country will be heavily influenced by the above factors.

So saying the English working class is lazy and stupid is ironically, just that I am afraid. It’s not a simple issue

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Cannon

Identity politics has been a fixture of the UK left since forever. What you mean is the working class rejected the Left Wing identity politics

Derek Hurton
Derek Hurton
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Cannon

I find this an astonishingly ignorant and offensive post. I’ll use just one example to counter it: Clive, who works a 60 hour minimum wage week as a security guard, dresses smartly and encourages his daughter in her work at the local Grammar school while working constantly about money.
Don’t pontificate about subjects of which you are clear ignorant.
But perhaps the Clives of this world are put there precisely to serve those of you who are more fortunate than they are… because fortune or luck is the biggest factor in determining your success in life.

Robert Cannon
Robert Cannon
3 years ago
Reply to  Derek Hurton

“I find this an astonishingly ignorant and offensive post.”

Snowflakes are not only on the left of the field, they are on the right also.

Why is Clive not able to command more for his labour than minimum wage? Does he have a trade or skill? How did he perform in education? Did he work as hard as he could have?

I think the worst thing to be in this country is white English working class. and my biggest fear is that my (as yet unborn) grandchildren might end up there. Ethnic minorities succeed because of closer family ties and support, which includes children being raised by two parents, i.e. fewer feckless fathers, but also includes financial support after children turn 18 (I’m revolted about how many white English children are one way or another kicked out by their parents at that age), and encouraging their children to stick at careers and jobs. Even in the 1990s white English working class used to look at Afro-Caribbean underachievement and feel good about themselves. Now even Afro-Caribbean children are higher achieving.

It breaks my heart to see what this country has become. Trust me. However, the refusal of the media to speak hard truths on white English working class underachievement is just as big an issue here as it is on racially-based gang crime. Be glad that people like me even bother to engage on this. Trust me, most of my colleagues and their families are happy with the current situation – white English working class underachievement means more opportunities for their children.