By Julian Ware-Lane
Does it matter that our principle opposition has a fair smattering of Old Etonians at its helm? Is it at all relevant, especially when politics is meant to be a battle of ideas?
Despite the occasional protestations to the contrary, it is undeniable that mentions of Eton, Harrow, the Bullingdon Club, etc, do resonate on the doors. This weekend will see me try out “millionaires’ manifesto” and if I were a gambling man I would wager a positive response.
Although we all have our views about individual policies it is unusual for party support to be based around a stance on a single issue. I am in the Labour Party because I am a socialist, and I am also working class. Party loyalty comes from more than just policy buy-in; it has a sense of belonging and tribalism attached to it. “You are one of us” is something every candidate wants to hear.
Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, and millionaires should not be voting Labour. Where you come from does inform your world view. You can read all you like about beer, but you can never understand what it tastes like until you have that first pint. The same is true of poverty, inequality, a low aspiration upbringing. “I feel your pain” frankly sounds ridiculous when you have £30 million in the bank.
Last weekend I was chatting to a young couple. The young man said “I don’t know much about politics but I know that the Tories are for the rich and Labour is for the poor. As I am poor I suppose I will vote for you.” I responded that I would count on his support until that lottery win materialised.
Labour does not just target its policies at the most vulnerable in our society. Its policies do benefit all. But when it talks about ending poverty and making every child matter it can so do with a sincerity borne from inhabiting those constituencies.
The Labour Party has members across the economic and sociological spectrum. Its strength is that its activist base is drawn from all sections of society. Our politicians are not always the most eloquent, but they are authentic.
I am not looking to restart the class war. I do want to know how a team mired in privilege can really aspire to represent all in our society. With their focus on the wealthy elite the Tories ought to be a fringe party. It is a testament to their campaigning, and collusion with a friendly media, that they are not.
The unauthentic and insincere Tories must be shown up for what they are.