Monday, November 26, 2007

More like 1907 than 2007

Unless a tiny miracle happens and a new Left Party is formed before the next UK General Election, I doubt that after that election there will be a single working class MP in the Westminister Parliament and by working class I loosely mean manual worker. We have already reached the stage when if you look at the class backgrounds of the current crop of honorable members, it appears to be more like 1907 than 2007. It is as if the major social changes that took place in the UK over the three decades that followed WW2 never happened, as these days almost the entire House of Commons comes from the urban middle classes. The odd Toff still sits on the green benches of the Commons and as place-men in the House of Lords, but the working classes are becoming invisible from both Houses of Parliament.
In the last ten years of a Labour government, we have witnessed the English middle classes gradually clawing back the political and cultural space they lost to the working classes between the years 1945-79.

You can read the rest of Mick Hall's brilliant post on how unrepresentative the British House of Commons has become here. Whether it's our shambolic privatised railway system, the erosion of our ancient civil liberties, the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor or the exclusion of working class voices from the political arena, we really are going backwards in this country.


David Lindsay said...

Just look at one of the biggest stories of the week. Who cares whether or not some student society invites Nick Griffin or David Irving to address it? Least of all when the grown-up, permanently resident, working, tax-paying City of Oxford is politically one of the most interesting places in Britain today.

Yet where is the coverage of the fact that no Tory Councillor has been returned there, whether at City or at County level, for a good many years now, giving the lie to the alleged continuing existence of the Tory bogeyman without which there is no point to the Labour Party? (Are there still any Tory Councillors in Cambridge, either? There certainly isn’t a Tory MP there these days.)

Where is the coverage of the rise of the Green Party in Oxford’s middle-class wards, a clear indication that the Guardian Tendency is detachable from the Labour coalition if given any alternative, and is by no means necessarily susceptible to the charms of the Lib Dems (again, if given an alternative)?

Where is the coverage of the rise, on Oxford’s council estates, of the International Working Class Association, which has about as many councillors nationwide as the two Respect factions put together, yet of which almost no one has ever heard?

And where is the coverage of the fraught relationship between Oxford’s Greens and the IWCA, a microcosm with profound implications for the impending, not to say ongoing, realignment of the British Left?

Ken said...

"Some student society" Hmm, spoken like a true Oxford reject, David.

And it's the Independent Working Class Association...

Merry banter aside, I like Mick's post and will plunder it ruthlessly tonight.

David Lindsay said...

I did not apply to Oxford. It really is fascinating that Kamm et al simply assumed that I was an Oxford reject (not even Oxbridge, Oxford) because I had been to Durham.

In fact, in my experience, certainly no more than half, and probably no more than a third, of people at Durham ever applied to Oxbridge, and a good proportion of those positively chose Durham instead after visiting it.

I hope that The Exile will agree with me about the ludicrous level of coverage that this schoolboy stunt has received, not least in view of the real, rather interesting and important, political situation not at, but in Oxford. It does rather illustrate Mick's point.

Actually, Neil, since it's your patch, have you considered a newspaper article about the Greens and the IWCA in Oxford, and about the Tory meltdown there? It is a most prescient microcosm, I'm sure.