9:05 am - December 17th 2009
He’s not alone.
The last few weeks have seen a succession of newspapers from the Daily Mail, Express, Telegraph, The Times and even The Economist play the ‘class war’ card. Surprisingly, a bunch of highly paid editors declared that increasing taxes on highly paid people was a bad idea.
But there are good strategic reasons for Labour embracing this phony ‘class war’.
1. Helps them re-frame the debate. The ‘class war’ is narrowly defined as being about bankers’ bonuses and higher taxes. Labour needs to expand this to include: Tories increasing IHT, deploring fairer taxes on the super-rich, their privileged backgrounds, the £250,000 “chicken-feed”, MPs “forced to live on rations”, Cameron not knowing how many houses he owned. In fact top Tory gaffes reek of how out of touch they are.
Re-framing the debate would allow them to talk about wider issues than just bankers’ bonuses.
2. Puts clearer dividing lines between the two. As I’ve said repeatedly, despite the obsession of right-whingers with performances at PMQs, most of the country doesn’t give a crap about the details of budgets or announcements. Which means Labour is still struggling to clearly define the choices between them and the Tories.
If the narrative is to be “cuts vs investment” then it has to be hammered loudly and clearly, not by moving a percentage point here or there. A constant debate about a re-framed ‘class war’ creates clearer distinctions about the different approach by Labour and the Tories.
3. For aspiration and hard work but against shameless greed. A common complaint of John Rentoul, Tom Harris and others on the right who echo this narrative is that Labour is no longer seen as the party of aspiration.
Anthony Wells says:
Equally, penalising bankers is a route to easy popularity. The downside is that it risks making Labour look like a party that doesn’t like success or aspiration, an image that Tony Blair managed to shed.
Ahhh… but it again comes down to re-framing the issue. Labour should be fighting for small businesses and hard-working entrepreneurs across the country, not rich, fat bankers working in bankrupt and taxpayer-sustained corporations. It should cut red-tape on small businesses and point out that the banking crisis bankrupted thousands of small firms reliant on loans. They are the real losers of the financial crisis. And until the economy is reformed and bankers’ excesses reined in – small business will continue to suffer from a volatile financial industry.
4. It motivates the core vote Rentoul and others may be chasing the swing vote but Labour has a big problem in motivating its own base to turn out and vote. Should that be ignored completely?
5. Right-wing hypocrisy about populism They love citing public opinion when it comes to issues like immigration, but right-whingers don’t seem to be so enamoured by the unwashed masses when it comes to higher taxes or taking bankers. Hmmmm.. I wonder why?
6. No voter backlash Sure, the media may like to pretend it will cost them but is this true?
a) Since ‘class war’ erupted Tories have lost their electoral lead significantly.
b) According to this poll 52% of the public agree that: ‘The Conservatives are still the party of the rich‘. Only 37% disagreed. 47% also agreed that: ‘David Cameron is too wealthy and privileged to represent ordinary people’. So the message can still resonate.
c) Britons are more fairminded than they are tolerant of naked greed. They make a distinction between the deserving and undeserving rich.
You have to be really deluded (John Rentoul, Tom Harris et al fit that bill nicely) to then think that playing ‘class war’ is a vote loser.
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
· Other posts by Sunny Hundal
Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Economy ,Labour party ,Media ,Westminster
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- Liberal Conspiracy
:: Why it makes sense for Labour to fight the 'class war' http://bit.ly/63myws
- Claire Butler
RT @libcon Why it makes sense for Labour to fight the ‘class war’ http://bit.ly/5QFBmn
- House Of Twits
RT @pickledpolitics Why it makes strategic sense for Labour to fight the 'class war': http://bit.ly/5QFBmn (by me, today)
- David Singleton
RT @pickledpolitics Why it makes strategic sense for Labour to fight the 'class war': http://bit.ly/5QFBmn
- Stuart Bruce
RT @pickledpolitics Why it makes strategic sense for Labour to fight the class war http://bit.ly/5QFBmn – Thought I'd disagree, but I don't
- Class war is for losers | And another thing...
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[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Liberal Conspiracy, Claire Butler. Claire Butler said: RT @libcon Why it makes sense for Labour to fight the ‘class war’ http://bit.ly/5QFBmn [...]
- sunny hundal
Why it makes strategic sense for Labour to fight the 'class war': http://bit.ly/5QFBmn (by me, today)
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