IN HIS recent book Despised: Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class, Labour activist Paul Embery writes: ‘The modern Left and the working class currently inhabit separate worlds and are motivated by conflicting priorities.’
The Leftist attack on the working class has been seen most recently in the attacks on English football fans who booed the taking of the knee by their national team. While it was Gareth Southgate and his players who adopted this racially divisive gesture it was the fans who booed who were inevitably branded ‘racists’.
While the Left claims to champion the cause of working-class people, in recent decades the working class has proved a huge disappointment to those who dominate the Left. It has retained a patriotism that is distasteful to the globalist ideologues of the modern Left and it has been reluctant to embrace multiculturalism and socially liberal ideas. The Left is today dominated by middle-class liberals, students, and social activists. Modern Leftists are invariably university-educated and call those who disagree with them ‘uneducated’. The inability of the working-class to live up to the modern Left’s requirements has led the Left to ditch them and embrace a new proletariat made up of radical feminists, racial and sexual minorities.
One major issue on which the Left and the working class have been at odds in the last few years is Brexit. Working-class areas of the North and Midlands voted strongly in favour of leaving the European Union. Those at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum were more likely to vote leave, while those at the higher end tended to vote remain. A study by the Centre for Social Justice found:
‘At every level of earning there is a direct correlation between household income and your likelihood to vote for leaving the EU – 62 per cent of those with income of less than £20,000 voted to leave, but that percentage falls in steady increments until, by an income of £60,000, that percentage was just 35 per cent.’
Yet most of the Left fiercely supported Remain and spoke with unbridled contempt about those who favoured leaving. One Left-wing commentator stated that Brexit was an idea that had ‘bubbled away in Right-wing fringe groups until Farage made it the central idea of a party which won millions of votes and pulled the Tories along with them’. Was this commentator not aware that for several decades the Labour Party had been the ‘Eurosceptic’ party while the Conservatives had favoured greater European integration? Was he not aware that some of the strongest proponents of withdrawal from the EU were Left-wing stalwarts such as Tony Benn and George Galloway?
A principal reason why so many working-class people voted for Brexit was their rejection of the open-borders ideology promoted by the EU. Immigration is an issue that has long divided the left from the working class. Ever since London dock workers marched in support of Enoch Powell, much of the working class has shown an intense dislike of the transformation of their country by mass immigration. But the Left has adopted the ideology of open borders and multi-culturalism as an article of faith and even the mildest criticisms of immigration are branded racist, fascist, xenophobic etc. The irony of this is that those who most benefit from liberal immigration policies are the very wealthy, big business and corporations who benefit from cheap labour while those who lose most are low-wage workers, people the Left has traditionally claimed to care about.
Much of the working class has also never signed on to the Left’s most elitist projects: LGBT rights and transgenderism. These are articles of faith to the modern Left and it brooks no opposition to those who differ. This was seen during the last general election when both Britain’s Left-wing parties deselected candidates who dissented on these issues. Labour MP Roger Godsiff was deselected for expressing reservations about LGBT teaching in primary school, while Liberal Democrat Robert Flello was deselected for his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.
The massive gulf that now exists between the left and many working-class people helps to explain the collapse of Labour’s ‘Red Wall’ seats in the 2019 election, many of which were captured by the Conservatives. The same tendency was seen again in the Hartlepool by-election in May this year. But only time will tell whether the patriotic and socially conservative values held by much of the working-class can be successfully harnessed in a more permanent rightward direction. The Conservatives have everything to gain from fighting the culture war.