Return of Class War?
Much has been made of Gordon Brown’s comments that the Conservatives tax policies appear to have been ‘dreamt up on the playing fields of Eton’. It featured heavily on last nights Question Time; Andrew Lansley complained vigorously on the Conservatives behalf saying that this showed the ‘return of Old Labour’. Firstly, I think it is a bit much to take what was a jibe in a gladiatorial contest so far when both sides indulge in such behaviour.
Secondly, it is all very well for the Conservatives to complain about this but David Cameron is quick to insist he is in touch with ‘common people’ as part of his political persona. Thus this claim is open to legitimate scrutiny and question; as was said later of Tiger Woods, if you live by the sword then you die by it. Thirdly, as Left Foot Forward points out the Conservatives are not above ‘playing the class card’.
The clear political agenda behind these claims is to distance Labour from middle-class ‘swing voters’ by playing them off against their aspirations as Benedict Brogan helpfully outlines;
The brazenness with which Mr Brown reduced the election ahead to a battle between the rich and the rest has one advantage at least: it exposed the fraudulence of his claim to govern for all the people, or whatever the phrase was that he used when he first took over in 2007. He governs for himself and his party, first and always.
However, the middle classes have more in common with the ‘rest’ because the ‘rich’ have no interest in letting them share the wealth. Something Labour would do well to remember when crafting its policies. The fact remains that capitalism is structurally unable to be fully meritocratic and to insist otherwise is to make yourself a ‘Daydream Believer’ like the one so beloved of football terraces.
It struck me how some of the contributors treated class as if it was a cuss word, some kind of cultural taboo; an elephant in the room as it were. Why this is the case is beyond me; Vince Cable came the closest to acknowledging it when he talked about the inequalities that existed under but why this is the case was left almost in the realm of metaphysics.
This shows there is no real underpinning this with a basic structural critique of how society is. Labour (is supposed to) represent the working classes; the Conservatives represent societies elite (though they claim otherwise) and we bury our heads in the sand and pretend the whole thing doesn’t exist which strikes me as somewhat Utopian. This approach will not endear us to core Labour voters and makes us somewhat aloof and out of touch when it comes to formulating policies.