THERE was a time in politics where the party you supported was dictated by the social class you came from or aspired to be.
Growing up in a seaside town, people appeared to be either Tory or Labour. At election time, the campaign posters in the windows fitted neatly with the type of houses in which they were being displayed.
On my street of neat red brick council houses, not one Tory poster was ever to be seen. It was only in the houses of the nearby tree-lined avenues that any evidence of voting Conservative could be found.
As for the then Liberal Party, their supporters lived in the weird houses with goats in the garden and overgrown greenhouses.
Labour was for the working class, nationalisation, the NHS and trade unions. The Conservatives were for business and the free market. It was easy to identify the party of a politician by their accent and the suit they wore.
When Margaret Thatcher waged war on the working classes and fed them the drug of home ownership, things began to change. After the disastrous times of Labour leaders Michael Foot and then Neil Kinnock, British politics would never be the same again. There appeared to be a conscious effort to move Labour from the left and into the centre ground. This move coincided with the same shift in the Tory party under the premiership of John Major.
Suddenly, the centre became the battleground of British politics. It was in all of this that the problems we see in the Labour Party today first took hold. In those times under Tony Blair, Labour lost its working- class roots and in many ways sold out the people who had voted for it year in and year out. It became metropolitan, elitist and a doppelgänger of the Tories.
Labour seemed to sneer at its grassroots voters. This was made so clear by Gordon Brown who called a lifelong Labour supporter a bigot. A London-centred Labour Party soon forgot its Northern ancestry.
This was reflected in the selection of its MPs. In 1964, 37 per cent of Labour MPs came from a manual occupational background. In 2017 that had fallen to just seven per cent.
Oliver Heath, an academic at Royal Holloway, University of London, believes that this harmed the party’s image among its traditional voters and that people felt Labour was no longer representing them. He said: “What the research showed was that as Labour candidates became more middle class, many working-class people simply stopped voting. For the last 20 or 30 years we have had a picture of gradually growing working-class abstention.”
Labour is no longer the party of the Northern working class. According to the New Statesman, its membership is made up of 400,000 mainly middle-class university graduates. Nearly half of these members – unlike many of Labour’s voters – live in London and the south of England. Some 75 per cent of Labour members are ABC1 voters, and 57 per cent of them have a degree. Around 15 per cent live in London and 32 per cent live in other parts of the south of England. Only 28 per cent live in the party’s Northern heartlands.
Labour is firmly in the hands of the elitist middle classes with bleeding hearts who lobby for terrorists to be freed from jail so they can later join Isis. It is a metropolitan party out of touch with the reality of life in a Northern town. So out of touch that the people in Copeland would rather vote Tory. It is a party that is totally toxic with no hope of being elected into government.
Many voters are seeing Labour for what it really is. No longer does it represent the working classes. It has steadily become the think tank for the middle class, middle-aged liberals with a misguided social conscience who think anyone with an ounce of national pride is a card- carrying fascist. Chardonnay socialists who moan at the state of the country while reading the Guardian and listening to the latest offering from Billy Bragg.
Mention any fears over immigration and they brand you a racist. Yet Blair allowed millions to enter our country fuelling wage decreases for British workers. They are so politically correct they are no political use.
This is why good, honest, Northern working class people have deserted their traditional party and walked into the hands of the pariah Tories and Ukip.
Labour has no real policy on immigration, finance or defence. They offer us nothing other than the ranting of metropolitan know-betters like Diane Abbott and Shami Chakrabarti. These people would be laughed off the streets of the council estate where I grew up. They have no idea what it is like to be poor in the North and – for that –they will pay the price.
Labour is finished. Now is the time for a new party to step forward in British politics and represent the working people.
GP Taylor is a writer and broadcaster and can be followed @GPTaylorauthor.