Gordon Brown is wrong to focus on middle class voters

January 17, 2010 8:24 pm

Author:

Share this Article

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.




Comments are closed

Latest

  • Comment It’s morally wrong to make patients pay for hospital parking

    It’s morally wrong to make patients pay for hospital parking

    Over the Bank Holiday weekend the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was trumpeting his new ‘ground rules’ to address rip-off hospital car parking. Any action to curb extortionate car parking prices at hospitals should be welcomed. However, reading these new ‘principles’ it appears they are not enforceable. My assumption was confirmed when the Department of Health answered a tweet from me by stating that ‘NHS Trusts will be held accountable to local people and organisations that represent them e.g. HealthWatch’. This […]

    Read more →
  • News Failing to meet export targets – Osborne has got it wrong again, says Mahmood

    Failing to meet export targets – Osborne has got it wrong again, says Mahmood

    Today, Shabana Mahmood, Shadow Treasury Minister, has explained how George Osborne is on course to fall short of export targets he set for himself. Writing for PoliticsHome, Mahmood has released figures on British exports, which, she explains, “show that there are still major concerns about how balanced the recovery has been so far.” Two years ago Osborne said that by 2020 he would double exports to £1 trillion. However, Mahmood cites figures that suggest it looks highly unlikely that the UK could meet […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Labour call for Rotherham Police and Crime Commissioner to step down

    Labour call for Rotherham Police and Crime Commissioner to step down

    A Labour Party spokesperson has said the Shaun Wright should resign as South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). Wright, who is Labour’s PCC, was previously a councillor on Rotherham council and  between 2005-2010 was head of children’s services. In response to a report on child abuse in the area, which found that between 1997 and 2013 1,400 children were subjected to sexual exploitation in Rotherham, Labour have called for Wright to stand down. A spokesperson reportedly told PoliticsHome: “The report […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Life skills need to be at the heart of Labour’s curriculum

    Life skills need to be at the heart of Labour’s curriculum

    When Gove was demoted and moved away from his beloved education brief you could almost hear the sound of champagne corks popping in staff rooms across England. Yet two months after the most high profile demotion of this parliament, Labour’s policy on education remains one its most underdeveloped. This is not necessarily a bad thing, saving the education debate until nearer the election could be a shrewd move for the party given that all but one of the Education department […]

    Read more →
  • News Self-harm in mental health hospitals risen by over 50%

    Self-harm in mental health hospitals risen by over 50%

    Luciana Berger, Shadow Minister for Public Health, has found that between 2010 and 2013 the number of people in mental health institutions who have attempted suicide or who have been found self-harming has risen by over 50%. At 29 of the NHS’s 52 mental health trusts, the number of suicide attempts and cases of self-harming rose from 14,815 in 2010 to 23,053 last year –  an increase of 56% . These figures, obtained by the Labour Party through a Freedom of […]

    Read more →