In under a Conservative government. Although, if

In conclusion, Corbyn’s economically far-left ideology maystill bring some hope for the working classes. Benn (2015) argues that theclass problem in Britain is “fundamentally economic”, with solutions including’raising taxation, public spending, building new homes’- essentially aredistribution of wealth (McKenzie in Benn, 2015: 332), with many of thesepolicies mirrored in the 2017 Labour manifesto. However, a more automaticchange will occur if truly equal opportunities give the working class an equalfooting to secure the same grades, and consequently university places and thesame jobs as the middle and upper classes, to break the vicious circle of thepoverty trap. This can be achieved through the abolition of fee-paying schools,grammar schools, and the re-introduction of grants for university students tomake education accessible to all. It is unlikely that this will happen under aConservative government. Although, if MPs were selected from a more diversepool of people, there may be an automatic change in the priorities ofparliament, as a result of descriptive representation.

All in all, class helpsus to understand politics as it highlights the different economic requirementsof Britain. If listened to, these voices may help to improve equality andliving standards within the UK.However, in 2017, UKIP received just 3% of the total vote (Ipsos Mori, 2017). Rather than a partyto represent a class, were they just a party formed to represent the issue ofBrexit, simply mobilising a class through their ‘fusion strategy’? Does thismean that there is, again, a lack of representation for the working class inmainstream politics? Although it can be argued that this result arose from anincrease in hope for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, this is not the case. Corbynmay be viewed as disengaged with much of the working class. Much of his cabineteither live in or represent a constituency in North London, while much of the’real’ working class reside in post-industrial towns in the midlands andnorthern constituencies.

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Meanwhile, the co-founder of his grassrootsorganisation Momentum, and now member of the Labour communications team, JamesSchneider, grew up in a £7m house in primrose hill. (Rhodes, 2016).  In 2017, the middle class swung to labour,whereas the working class swung to the Conservatives. This was theConservatives’ best score among class C2 and Des since 1979.

DE turnout alsofell from 57% turnout in 2015 to 53% in 2017 (Ipsos Mori, 2015; Ipsos Mori,2017). Previously, New Labour schemes aimed at reducing class inequalities,such as Sure Start children’s centres, came across as a condescending criticismto working class behaviours (Benn, 2015: 332). In addition, the ‘left behind’voice is forecast to become even more marginalised, as the class gap runsparallel to an age gap (as pensioners were likely to have worked in blue collarindustries).

According to the British Social Attitudes survey of 2013, overhalf of pensioners had no formal qualifications, while just 6% of under-35s do.(Ford and Goodwin, 2014, 279).The above point may also have been enhanced by theincreasing dominance of the service industry in Britain; now making up nearly80% of the economy (Financial Times,2016). This is as a result of Tony Blair’s drive for a ‘knowledge economy'(clearly favouring the middle class, as argued above), and Margaret Thatcher’sprivatisation of many manufacturing industries, leading to job cuts ascompanies looked to cut costs (TheGuardian, 2011). Further contributing to this concept of underrepresentationis the reoccurring cycle caused by the ‘nepotism’ among the middle and upperclasses. Rachel Johnson summarised this, claiming that the middle classes “havethe money to support their children through unpaid work experience, to supportthem through university” (Johnson in Jones, 2011: 170). This illustrates theissue that the children of the middle class immediately have an advantage overthe working class, who may find it hard to compete with the middle class in anincreasingly competitive labour market.

Private education further entrenchesthis class difference. Just 100 fee-paying schools out of a total of 3,700 inthe country, accounted for a third of admissions to Oxbridge (Jones, 2011:172). These inequalities would suggest that the British education system is’rigged’ against the working classes. Often, those who have more faith inmainstream politics are university-educated young professionals. If thisautomatic disadvantage is to be reduced, a good-quality education should not bean exclusive, private good. This vicious circle is a key reason as to why nowjust 7% of politicians come from manual occupation backgrounds, as opposed to37% of MPs in 1964 (Heath, 2016). Heath points out that a successful campaignwas Sadiq Khan’s campaign to become Mayor of London, in which Khan placed astrong emphasis on social immobility and inequality; reengaging the traditionalworking-class support base of Labour.

It can be argued that the reason the white working class hasbeen underrepresented is because, in the words of Tony Blair, “we’re all middleclass” now; suggesting that Labour only aimed their campaign at the middleclass, because the working class was not big enough to win the Labour party anelection.  In the 1964 election, whenHarold Wilson’s Labour came to power, 1 in 20 voters had a degree, 40% ofworkers belonged to a trade union, and 98% of voters were white. As opposed toin 2010, when the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats formed a coalitiongovernment: just 20% of voters belonged to a trade union, the BME vote was over10%, and 35% of workers had a degree (a proportion which is bound to increasein the years to come) (Ford and Goodwin, 2014: 279). However, with newspaperssuch as the Daily Mail reflecting that “there are now three main classes inBritain: a scarily alienated underclass; the new and confident middle class,set free by the Thatcher revolution… and a tiny, increasingly powerless upperclass.

” (Jones, 2011: 139), it may have become more apparent that rather than aloss of the working class, it is a loss of their political voice andvisibility. The representation of the working class in popular culturealso left them feeling alienated, contributing to perceptions of the whiteworking class such as those mentioned in the previous point. In Till Death Do Us Part (1965), theprotagonist was an older white working-class man, portrayed as racist, withtelevision serving as an important depiction of society broadcasted to thenation, along with other depictions of ‘dirty whiteness’ (Beider, 2015, 26-34),this kind of representation still exists in shows such as ‘Benefits Street’ (Benefits Street, 2014). This creates aclear difference between the perception of the ‘deserving’ versus the’underserving’ poor (Benn, 2015: 330). Although, on the whole, the whiteworking class are viewed as apathetic and ‘intolerant’, by voters such as youngprofessionals (Ford and Goodwin, 2014: 277); giving way to a sense that “youhave failed to take advantage of the opportunities that were provided for you”,or “you do not even deserve sympathy” (Winlow, 2017: 154). This lack ofsympathy for the working class, combined with the impact of multiculturalism, hasbeen a contributing factor to the fact that the white working class is one ofthe most underrepresented voices in modern politics (Winlow, 2017: 109).

On the other hand, however, there is a degree ofintersectionality creating this political grouping. In 2015, when a total of14% of white voters voted UKIP, just 2% of BME voters did (Ipsos Mori, 2015), meanwhile Labour (the most prominent supportersof multiculturalism) lead BME voters by 54 points to the Conservative Party in2017 (Ipsos Mori, 2017). This isbecause, while parties such as the Labour party support multiculturalism, whilethe working classes experience greater competition for scarce job vacancies,policymakers view the white working class as seeking to ‘maintain a privilegedstatus at the expense of overriding needs by groups who are nationalistic,racist, or both’ (Beider, 2015: 33). Many of the views of the white workingclass were translated into UKIPs 2015 campaign. A survey of 6,000 UKIPsupporters found that one of the main motives for voting UKIP was’dissatisfaction with established parties in Westminster, and their managementof immigration and the financial crisis’ (Ford and Goodwin, 2014: 278). Thisillustrates how UKIP filled a ‘radical’ gap in the political spectrum which themain two parties did not cover.

The role of class is important in understanding the successUKIP experienced in said elections. Firstly, the interests of the working classwere no longer properly represented by either Labour or the Conservatives. InTony Blair’s 2005 Labour Party conference speech, this alienation is summarisedby his dismissal of the working class; claiming the economic climate was ‘unforgivingof frailty’, and “replete with opportunities, but they only go to those swiftto adapt, slow to complain, open, willing and able to change” (Reeves, 2017:704). If even the party whose sole aim was once to represent the workingclasses are looking down on state dependence, in favour of winning moremiddle-class votes in the centre ground, it is easy to understand why theworking classes felt frustrated with mainstream politics. Furthermore,politicians wanted to appear ‘cutting edge’ and ‘cosmopolitan’ (Winlow et al,2017: 110), prioritising ‘multiculturalism’.

New Labour were one of the keydrivers for this; further maximising votes by adopting an economically centristand socially liberal approach (Beider, 2015: 25). This concept ofmulticulturalism was continued by ‘one nation’ conservatism (Beider, 2015: 25).The Middle class may also be more tolerant of different cultures not leastbecause of their position of financial security, but also their ability to payfor international holidays, and sample different cuisines (Beider, 2015: 34)UKIP was founded in 1993, among a group of ex-Conservative Eurosceptics.Upon the election of Nigel Farage as the leader of UKIP, Farage began to usethe ‘fusion strategy’, to unite opposition to Europe and opposition toimmigration in the minds of voters.

At one point, in 2014, UKIP had the largestworking-class following since Michael Foot led Labour in 1983. (Ford andGoodwin, 2014: 282).In May of 2014, UKIP placed first in the EU elections,winning 26.6% of the national vote; the first time since 1906 a party otherthan the main two won the highest vote share in a national election. Whereas inthe 2015 general election, 18% of men in class DE, and 21% of men in class C2chose to vote for the minority party.

UKIP’s success can be attributed to theirappeal to the ‘left-behind’ class- further alienated from the political processfollowing the coalition government’s Austerity. This was mirrored by DouglasCarswell’s defection from the Tory party to UKIP, winning the by-election(often being used as a platform to express discontent with the currentgovernment, through the use of a protest vote) in his constituency of Clacton,representing his new party (Ford and Goodwin, 2014: 277). This bizarre surge ofpopularity for a radical third party arose from the frustration of the workingclass that Westminster had forgotten their voices. This essay explores thecircumstances which accommodated for the changing attitudes of the workingclass: including alienation from the centrist New Labour, the bias of theeconomy and educational system, to the increase in immigration from the EU, andin turn, competition for jobs in the unskilled labour market.


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