It’s Government policy rather than a lack of interest that is excluding the working class from culture, says John Merrick.
During a recent episode of the BBC’s Politics Live, pollster Deborah Mattinson of Britain Thinks recited a tired stereotype of the working class and its relation to the Labour Party. Paraphrasing a response during a focus group session in Crewe in 2018, she claimed that working-class voters perceived that Labour had gone from a “pie-and-a-pint party to quinoa”. This culinary shorthand suggests that Labour has abandoned its working-class roots and become a party of metropolitan liberals.
Much of the analysis of the 2019 general election seems to echo this view. Labour, it is said, lost its heartlands (or, in the new parlance, its “red wall”) because it went from a party with an organic connection to the northern working class to a party of middle-class protest. And, with beautiful symmetry, one of those heartland seats that Labour lost was the same constituency that the focus group was conducted in, Crewe and Nantwich.
Perhaps the clearest lesson from this is that class is never far from the minds of most British people. As Richard Hoggart, the author of The Uses of Literacy, once observed: “Each decade we shiftily declare we have buried class; each decade the coffin stays empty.” It’s now almost clichéd to say that Britain, and England in particular, is the most class-obsessed country. Yet more clichéd still is what class represents in the minds of many... Keep reading on the New Statesman