Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Different Class



I was loitering with intent to irritate in the far left Compass site and came across this quote
“Was it Tony Blair in 1998 or John Prescott the year before who declared "we're all middle class now"? Or both? I am not sure it matters much who it was, but in retrospect the statement seems pretty central to the New Labour “ Some thoughts about class and New Labour then...

Odd isn’t it that the Blair administration claimed to have moved beyond class. In fact this was a weak imposture ,of a piece with the entire New Labour advertising campaign designed to convey the impression that the Labour Party as was had left socialism behind . As we know, once in power the Party back benchers reasserted themselves behind Brown and over the next ten years government spending increased buy 30 % .
A large part of this went towards turning the post manufacturing regions into welfare wastelands where a new class , the underclass, was born. By bizarre logic infantilising hand outs were all the more necessary as many of the recipients were also paying more tax than ever directly and indirectly . These funded the pensions and sinecures of the “Public Sector Professional Class”.

The Working class structures that had sustained communities , already in trouble were shattered by the removal of fathers and floods of immigration . The calculation was that people once on the payroll could not escape and in any case would hardly vote for the Conservative Party. A little noticed fact was that 35% of Labour voters consistently put the BNP as their second choice. Since the Ealing result a succession of dog whistles have been blown at this ‘class’ but they have proved considerably less stupid than Labour had hoped and quite reasonable ignored the Damascene conversion of internationalist progressives to their communitarian culture .

So in one sense Blair was wrong , class is very much an issue and he has kept it that way. Class mobility as we know is now lower than in the seventies and has ground to all halt thanks to insane education welfare polices , marginal disincentives to work and the development of information industries.

In another sense the Blairites were right .The panic that created New Labour was that people were indeed becoming middleclass ,as the benefits of Capitalism freed by the Thatcher and Major years flowed into ever more pockets . As choice and independence spread people naturally had no further use for the Labour Party. This problem was papered over with witless jargon about social entrepreneur-ship .The real project was to expand the class of “Public Sector professionals “ , immigrants and the lower grade unionised public sector class , a vestigial remnant of the time when Labour had a purpose .This is the Labour Constituency. Without it they are extinct.

Thus class division remains essential to the left , it is recast and failing but class war is rarely far from the surface of their rhetoric . Conservatives must recognise that the way to beat labour is not by engaging in this war but by spreading opportunity .
The aim must be 'One Nation' at peace with itself .

13 comments:

Blue Eyes said...

Newmania for Prime Minister!

Newmania said...

Easy tiger..

electro-kevin said...

I don't feel limited by class so much as mindset.

An interesting subject discussed by Paul McKenna (hypnotist)

He went to a comprehensive and his maths studies involved calculating a weekly shop

His friend went to private school and his maths studies involved calculating business takeovers.

My own belief is that there are very different classes now.

Chav class (underclass)

Working class (unskilled, low paid)

Skilled class (sometimes extremely well paid trades up to 100k pa)

Middle class (sometimes lowly paid but upper end unlimited)

Aristocracy (Premiership footballers)

Has beens (Royalty)


But seriously - if only we could get the skilled and middle class united in a new 'productive' class - recognising that they have broadly the same aspirations and values.

Then it wouldn't be so easy for socialists to divide and conquer.

Newmania said...

I agree with you EK I call it 'Estates' of the mind but its not just the disadvantaged who do not look up.
I had absolutely no idea it was possible to aim for something more than being lucky enough to have a job..and we were quite middle-class...lower..ish.
There is a book called "estates " out whihc talks a lot about this you might like it.

The Dotterel said...

I don't think money has much to do with it any more - and I'd not count many in the Premiership 'aristocracy'. Class is about beliefs, and self-identity, rather than salary.

Newmania said...

. Class is about beliefs, and self-identity, rather than salary.

Theer is a classic distinction between status and class .The usual example was the vicar who impoverished though he might be was definitely middle class

Auntie Flo' said...

You're right, newmania, we need Supermac style one nation politics restored. Class war, even for Marx, was only ever the route to wealth and power for a small elite - just as it is for this Scots mafia destroying our country now.

The odd thing about Supermac, when he said, to paraphrase him, we're all middle class now, was he meant it.

Macmillan was quite radicalised by the extreme poverty he saw in his constituency. That, the huge sacrifice working people made during the war and I think his own background made him genuinely want to unite the nation.

Supermac's grandfather migrated with his parents and siblings from a Scottish croft to become a low paid clerk living a very seedy tenement block in London. He died quite young and Macmillan's father and his family depended on the charity of an older brother of the grandfather until Macmillan senior got work as a poor schoolmaster.

The family's fortunes only changed when Macmillan's father took over this uncle's shop - which initially did a bit of printing as a sideline - while his older brother knackered himself running around after a young bride.

I remember Macmillan saying that he loved reading Dickens, not surprising that as he was reading his own family's life story.

Philipa said...

Dear heart I didn't know you'd startd blogging again. I've missed you (and Auntie Flo *waves*)

Sadly I've been injured (again, yawn) so am removing myself from the blogosphere for a bit.

x

John M Ward said...

Well, "I know my place!"

Auntie Flo' said...

Philipa said... Sadly I've been injured (again, yawn) so am removing myself from the blogosphere for a bit.


Oh, no, poor you! I hope you get better soon, Philipa.

Newmania said...

How interesting Flo I must find out more about him, I need a good new book

P That is such a shame well I`m dabbling when I get the time.

John...I defer to you

Auntie Flo' said...

Woops, sorry, I should have said Macmillan's uncle knackered himself running around after his young bride

electro-kevin said...

The Dotterel,

When I said that footballers were the aristocracy I was alluding to the amount of princesses in the Premiership.

;-)

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