Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Spectacularly bad

Yesterday I praised one article by Compass Youth. But the latest offering, a strategy for taking on the Tories', is astonishingly muddle-headed.

The strategy is aimed at 'urban intellectuals' who might be attracted by Cameron's current rhetoric, and what it calls 'C1/C2 voters', which appear to be skilled white working-class voters who voted for Thatcher in the '80s.

The key for Labour to win back this coalition is apparently the adoption of 'helping people to help themselves' policies, such as 'hypothecated welfare' [whatever that may be], splitting up the National Health Service with elected boards and other measures to adjust the welfare state to 'give people a hand up, not a hand out'.

There are three rather serious objections to this. Firstly, the individual policies suggested are ones which would not work very well. Secondly, and more importantly, neither urban intellectuals nor 'C1/C2 voters' are very interested in the idea of a campaign based on gimmicky policies to tinker with the Welfare State [urban intellectuals are much more interested in foreign policy and the environment, to take but two examples, while C1/C2 voters are more interested in crime, jobs and immigration].

But most importantly, I just can't understand the point of writing a strategy for Labour which doesn't include working-class voters. There are not very many urban intellectuals, and the fact that many of them read the Guardian does not mean that their opinions should count for more. In contrast there are millions of people who work in low-income jobs, who may still vote Labour or may have stopped voting at all, and any strategy for the Labour Party must surely start with their priorities and their needs.


At 2:17 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks at least for taking notice. I would respond to your criticsms like this

"I don't understand the point of writing a stratgy for Labour that doesn't include working-class voters"

You overestimate what I was trying to do. I wasn't trying to write the definitive strategy for Labour. I explicity write at one point that these ideas/policies can be combined with lots of other ideas/policies. I was just assessing what Cameron is trying to do with his social justice agenda and how to combat it. I think it presents threats (among the urban intellectuals) and oppurtunities (among C1/C2 voters). My article was therefore aimed at those two groups.

The ideas in the article would only be a small part of Labour's overall strategy which arguably, you may be right in saying, should be aimed mainly at working class voters. I wrote quite clearly that there are lots of problems the piece doesn't touch, in its conclusion. I'll give you that I should have explicitly included reconnecting with traditional working class voters in that.

If you don't think Cameron's social justice policies need a Labour answer, then I admit there is no point in my piece. But if you do, here's a possible answer. As i say, this post was meant to answer a very narrow question - how to respond to Cameron on social Justice issues.

As far as the polices are concerned there's two points. Firstly, they are only back of the envelope sketches. I was only giving a feel of policies that give people a real say in the services that affect their lives. I'm sorry, but local elections are just not good enough for that.

Secondly, you can accept my point about rhetoric without taking on any policies. I think that the mimimum wage, the New Deals and the drive against poverty already justifies the rhetorical line of helping people stand up for themselves, which would contrast well with Cameron.

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