. . . The real problem facing Labour isn’t that the party turned its back on working-class voters — it’s that working-class voters turned their backs on the party, and have been doing so for nearly 50 years. . .
Labour’s epic crisis is not a case of ‘left-behind voters’ but of a ‘left-behind party’, rejected by the very people it was founded to represent. . .
Labour was being sustained by the middle classes, while lower classes went back to the thing they’d been doing for decades: deserting Labour.
The Blairites are often accused of ruining Labour, abandoning its traditional voters and ideals. This turns history upside down. New Labour is better understood as a response to something that had already happened: the slow but sure abandonment of Labour by working-class voters, which left Labour a shell, ripe for a takeover by a middle-class professional set. It was working-class voters who sealed Labour’s fate, not Labour that sealed theirs.
This isn’t semantics, this question of who abandoned whom. Yes, it’s all interrelated: working-class voters deserted Labour because they felt the party had in some way screwed them over. Chicken, egg, etc. But understanding that working-class voters have been turning their backs on Labour for ages is important, because it shows that the crisis facing this party today is more profound — infinitely more profound — than the current post-election soul-searching lets on.
For what we have is a party whose foundation stone, whose very reason for existing — to represent the working classes — no longer exists. Labour is facing more than a crisis of communication or a dearth of likeable leaders. It’s facing a crisis that is about as existential as it is possible to get: what becomes of a party whose founding constituency just isn’t into it anymore?
All the talk of reviving Labour with a re-injection of New Labour or Blue Labour or Brownite Labour is like discussing what colour lipstick to put on a corpse. Labour is dead. Its soul — working-class voters — has gone. It’s now little more than a zombie party being puppet-mastered by metropolitan elites and the media classes in a bizarre political danse macabre. A Frankenstein escaped from the 20th century. Well, they can keep it, these Labour-sustaining luvvies, because working-class voters have no more need of it: they’ve made Labour a left-behind party.
Brendan O’Neill is writing about the British Labour Party but much of what he says applies to its counterpart in New Zealand.
It was taken over by different sectors using the party to advance their interests rather than a united group with a vision for the country.
Hat tip – Utopia