Gordon Brown is wrong to focus on middle class voters

17th January, 2010 8:24 pm

ClassBy Gus Baker

Yesterday, Gordon Brown made his appeal to middle class voters. He claimed that Labour’s focus was to create “more middle class jobs than ever before” and represent the “mainstream majority”. To me, this is worrying and upsetting. By talking only about the middle classes, we risk leaving behind the people who need Labour most. They must not be taken for granted.

The problem with trying to drive down the middle of the road is you get hit from both sides. According to a December report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the amount of people living in poverty has increased substantially in the last 5 years. About 1.5 million more people live in relative poverty than in 2004. Child poverty has increased, despite ambitious targets. As has been written before, one in fifty children in the UK are not able to afford a winter coat. These horrific statistics show that Labour is currently failing to properly address the issue. We must do better.

Poverty does not just affect the poor. Higher crime rates negatively impact on us all, higher healthcare costs put a drain on services and education is disrupted by pupils who are unprepared for school due to poor home environments. That the gender pay gap has got bigger should worry all women, regardless of class. In The Spirit Level, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett explain how inequalities in society harm us all. For the sake of the whole of the UK, including middle England, lifting people out of poverty must be the focus of our party.

In 1945 Labour ran unashamedly to slay Beveridge’s 5 giant evils of squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease. We talked of full employment, houses for all and good health and education irrespective of family income. We did not talk then, as Gordon Brown did this weekend, of simply being the party of the “mainstream majority”. Labour people, then and now, understand deep down it is the people who are excluded from this majority that we must care for the most.

I know many comrades will respond that such a negative post is unhelpful in a general election year. Helping those in need is why I am a member of the Labour party. Unless we start to talk about the 13.1 million people living in low income households as our priority, instead of the mythical monolith of “middle England”, we can be quite sure that our core vote will be nowhere to be seen come election day.




Latest

  • Featured News Millions of Labour supporters would pick May over Corbyn as PM

    Millions of Labour supporters would pick May over Corbyn as PM

    Nearly three million Labour voters prefer Theresa May to Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister, according to a new poll, Some 29 per cent of Labour’s 9.3 million voters – around 2.7 million people – would pick the Tory over the veteran left-winger, according to a Times/YouGov poll publishes today. The results come only a day after a separate ICM poll showed the Tories had opened up a 16 point lead over Labour. The two surveys underline the impact of Labour’s internal […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Aides to Corbyn and McDonnell cleared over access to Seema Malhotra’s office

    Aides to Corbyn and McDonnell cleared over access to Seema Malhotra’s office

    Aides to Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have been cleared of breaking Commons rules when entering the office of former shadow Cabinet minister Seema Malhotra. John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, told Malhotra there was “nothing” in her complaint which added up to a breach of parliamentary privilege. Malhotra had claimed at the weekend that staff working for the leadership had made an “unauthorised” entry into her office – prompting another internal row as the former shadow Chief Secretary […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Owen Smith heads to Orgreave with pledge to appoint minister for workers

    Owen Smith heads to Orgreave with pledge to appoint minister for workers

    Owen Smith will today pledge to introduce a Cabinet-level minister for labour to tackle inequality. The leadership challenger will continue his appeal to traditional Labour values with a commitment to introduce a Secretary of State for Labour. His rival, Jeremy Corbyn, has been a longstanding critic of Britain’s sharp divides in wealth while Theresa May drew comparisons with Ed Miliband when, in her first speech as prime minister, she focused on inequality. Today Smith will use a speech at the former […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Luke Akehurst: Do we choose survival or a descent into sectarian in-fighting?

    Luke Akehurst: Do we choose survival or a descent into sectarian in-fighting?

    This is a very strange leadership election. It isn’t really a choice about politics, but more one about the culture and ethos and image of the Labour Party. Last year there was a very clear and wide range of policy and political alternatives. Liz Kendall representing a return to Blairism, Yvette Cooper representing the right wing of the Brownite social democratic tradition, Andy Burnham the leftwing variant of it and perhaps by default the Soft Left, and Jeremy Corbyn representing […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Scotland Scottish Labour demand urgent plan to deal with Brexit economic crisis

    Scottish Labour demand urgent plan to deal with Brexit economic crisis

    Scottish Labour has demanded the Holyrood and Westminster administrations take urgent measures to protect Scotland’s economy from falling further behind the rest of the UK in the aftermath of the vote for Brexit. The Governments in Westminster and Holyrood must support at-risk sectors and bring forward construction projects in order to stimulate the economy, Scottish Labour said. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon must not ignore these responsibilities while trying to keep Scotland in the EU, according to Scottish Labour. The plan includes: […]

    Read more →
x

LabourList Daily Email

Everything Labour. Every weekday morning

Share with your friends










Submit