Improving the lot of the poor still matters in politics…
Something struck me steming from a piece in the Daily Mail of all papers; no matter how much the hard right would have us try, the lot of the poor and the governments policies to improve their lot is still a central issue for alot of people. Society still judges itself (and consequentially it’s government) on how this group is treated. No doubt this issue concerns your average Daily Mail reader because they are almost neurotically obsessed with one day falling into the catergory of those ‘betrayed by Labour’. However, that does not negate the central point.
The Conservatives made gargantuan efforts at their conference to show they could appeal to Labour’s core vote no doubt as a totemic emblem of how they have changed. In a similar vein Tony Blair courted Middle England assiduously and successfully to prove Labour had changed. I somehow doubt David Cameron will be so successful in his efforts; when Margaret Thatcher had limited success in this area it was be appealing to aspirations not a sense of betrayal; a sense of betrayal might make you vote Conservative one time in anger at a pinch but it wont solidify your support for a party your culturally opposed too and still maintains it’s burning desire is to cut inheritance tax. The problem with the Inheritance Tax proposal is it doesn’t appeal to the aspirational upper working/lower middle classes. It is a literally a policy whose worth is confined to the top slice of society.
What of us? Well, Labour’s core vote may well like some (but certainly not all) of what we say but they will suffer from what I will henceforth call ‘trembling hand syndrome’ after what I would regard as a core Labour voter telling me they suffered from exactly that when it came to putting an ‘x’ by the Liberal Democrat on the ballot. As I have said before this is as much a cultural as a policy question; although we have pioneered community focused politics in many ways we still simply cannot relate well to working class communities because culturally we don’t understand that the Labour Party embedded itself in these places heart and soul. Until we achieve similar embedding we will make little headway and it requires so much more than a deluge of Focus leaflets. Similarly, the Conservatives will also suffer with this problem to a slightly larger degree.
The centrality of the issue of the poor shows that the progressive lexicon still dominates politics; that the improvement of society is seen through the improvement of the lot of those at the bottom. We shouldn’t let the Conservatives steal that for themselves and be drawn into their absurd lexicon regarding cuts and debt repayment.