Long live the Class War strategy


3:20 pm - December 27th 2009

by Sunny Hundal    


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Yesterday the Independent ran the “exclusive” that Gordon Brown had declared class war on fox hunting, which boiled down to a re-stating of long held Labour policy.

God forbid the environment secretary Hillary Benn launch a campaign to highlight that Tories are planning to repeal the hunting ban!

As pointed out over at Frank Owen’s Paintbrush, it is surely instructive the Tories and Countryside Alliance consider this issue more important than: “post office closures, house prices turning the countryside into the preserve of the rich, unemployment, pensioner isolation and poverty, and a host of other serious problems afflicting people in rural areas.”

But no. Pointing that out would mean ‘class war’ and today the Sunday Telegraph, which obviously has New Labour’s interests at heart, has an interview with Tessa Jowell where she apparently urges Brown to drop this “hideous” strategy and reveals that “she was pushing for reform of public services to be at the heart of the Labour manifesto“. Yup. Now that’s what you call an exciting and clearly defined electoral strategy.

On Christmas Eve the Times’ Francis Elliott and the FT’s George Parker had, rather coincidentally, both come to the identical conclusion that Peter Mandelson disagreed with the Class War strategy without a single attributed quote. The desperation of right-wing paper to stop the strategy play out in the coming year is palpable.

Class War remains an electorally viable strategy because: (a) a majority of voters are persuaded by the implication; (b) it highlights wedge issues Labour needs to advance to narrow their defeat; (c) extensive polling shows that most ‘class war’ positions are deeply popular.

I’ll come back to this issue again soon to rebut points that right-wing Labour people have made. But guess who said this in the run-up to the 1997 election?

New Labour should use the tax system to attack unjustified privilege, without weakening incentives for risk-taking and hard work.

That was Peter Mandelson. A few years ago the right-wing papers would have been screaming hysterically that establishing the minimum wage was ‘class war’ too. Wonder what the likes of Tom Harris and John Rentoul would have made of that.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Economy ,Labour party ,Realpolitik ,Westminster

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Reader comments


I totally agree that Labour should continue with this strategy though I am not sure hunting is a class war on anything other than the very elite and slightly aristocratic. In fact, it is one of the many issues where the working class and middle classes can be brought together as opposition is rife amoung the urban middle classes too.

It is less a bone of contention between classes as a cultural tension between urban and rural communities (lower classes in rural communities would side with the hunt more often than not id imagine).

However, in general I agree that this strategy isnt liked because it breaks a taboo for the right-wing media and it could well, if done well, resonate well with voters and bolster Labours support. I suspect there is factional menace behind the Jowell interview and she is the one who is responsible for that; as for other suggestions your right they can be treated with a pinch of salt but I think this debate is opening up genuine fissures within the Labour Party that(including at the top no doubt) that actually predict those that will emerge in the wider debates that will follow the election.

Christ, what happened to the Independent? I remember when it used to be quite respected paper. Back when the Guardian was tying itself in knots over the Iraq war, the Indie was out there and overtly critical. Shameful.

I’m not quite sure where you get the evidence for the proposition that the Tories care more about fox hunting than unemployment, given that this was the first time they’ve mentioned it in about five years. Indeed, some might say that in urging Labour to ignore public service reform in favour of toff-bashing, you’re displaying pretty odd priorities yourself.

No matter. I hope your views are read far and wide in the Labour Party and the Balls/Hundal strategy does indeed win out. Talk about a message that’s not only negative but utterly, utterly hollow, short-term, and devoid of any kind of meaning or point whatever.

Jonathan M,

It’s called the commercial struggle to surivive, it doesnt want to offend people and lose readers and therefore shuffel closer off the great newspaper coil into the cosmic shredder of history…

I’m not quite sure where you get the evidence for the proposition that the Tories care more about fox hunting than unemployment

And how would unemployment be helped by vastly cutting spending? It’s the Tories who have been talking about removing the fox hunting ban, no?

Indeed, some might say that in urging Labour to ignore public service reform in favour of toff-bashing

What sort of ‘public service reform’ would you like to see out of interest? And do you really think it’s a strong electoral strategy?

Balls as left-wing? I thought that was pretty funny. But then I guess it shows where some people think the political scale is.

Darrell – agree with your first comment.

The minumum wage is class war, against young and unskilled workers that is. It doesn’t do much harm to the well-off.

“And how would unemployment be helped by vastly cutting spending?”

By allowing investment to be co-ordinated more efficiently by individual decisions, and encouraging businesses to grow in a more stable fiscal environment.

Yes Sunny, there was a deadly silence from the usually vociferous Countryside Alliance in response to the closure of rural Post Offices But I do believe that fox-hunting, is really a class issue with tories, not the rural, or indeed, urban working class. I would suggest that it is the middle-classes who are more likely to have a problem with it
Regretably, it is the tories who are winning the class war ((we are all middle-class), and Tony Blair reinforced the notion of a classless society with the repeal of clause 4 and its’ watered down replacement rererring to ‘the many’.

and encouraging businesses to grow in a more stable fiscal environment.

Which you wouldn’t have until you did something about the instability of the financial markets because of the skewed system of rewards. And what are the Tories doing about that?

PS – I’m for protecting and encouraging small businesses – not supporting big business nor for rearding failure, nor for cutting spending when the economy is taking a nosedive and that will demonstrably result in more unemployment.

The minumum wage is class war, against young and unskilled workers that is

Too bad they don’t think that eh?

Yes, let’s spend another 700 hours debating fox hunting.

“Which you wouldn’t have until you did something about the instability of the financial markets because of the skewed system of rewards. And what are the Tories doing about that?”

Well no one is going to fix that until we have a system of sound money. Obviously, I am not going to defend the Tory’s apparently worthless position on that. But that is a longterm issue, a problem for the next boom, when what is needed right now is something to pull us out of recession.

From this article, it looks like foxhunting is hardly a simple party issue anymore either: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/opinion/Kate-Hoey-Hunting-long-and.5938957.jp

Well worth reading Kate Hoey on fox hunting.

Heaven help us when fox hunting is rapidly becoming the major defining issue of the forthcoming election and when more than 700 hours of Parliamentary time were spent in debating the legislation banning hunting with dogs which, even now, is riven with contradictions, as Kate Hoey shows, to the extent where the ban has become unenforceable. With the embedded ambiguities of the rulebook on MPs’ allowances, that is not much of a testimonial for the legislative competence of Parliament.

A reason, I suspect, why this issue has assumed the importance it has is because of the difficulty in otherwise identifying a sufficiently impressive legacy from all those years of Blairite governance – apart from the Iraq war, Alastair Campbell’s spin, and ASBOs, of course.

Sunny, Class War is a very good strategy for trying to hold 200 or so seats for Labour.

But it’s not a strategy that comes close to winning an election.

If Labour is intending to wage class war then they’ll have to field a working class candidate or two because from where I’m sitting this looks like the upper middle class fighting the upper-upper middle class.

“If Labour is intending to wage class war then they’ll have to field a working class candidate or two”

Try John Prescott, David Blunkett and Denis Skinner.

So it is ok to discriminate against someone because their parents were well-off, but not ok to discriminate against someone because their parents were non-white?

Could you explain that one to me again, please?

If you are for supporting small businesses but against supporting big businesses, can you say at what point a grown-from-scratch business ceases to have your support, and why?

I am precisely the kind of voter Labour should be trying to keep onside – economically more or less centrist, socially liberal, politically engaged and active. Most importantly, I’m a regular voter but keep switching parties.

The trouble is, I’ve got a doule-barrelled surname and went to public school. I’m no longer welcome, it seems.

I also strongly object to any discrimination based upon the circumstances of someone’s birth. You may well be able to win voters back from the BNP by shifting their hatred from brown people to posh people, but it’s a fucking disgraceful tactic.

I really wish they’d stop this bullshit, or I’m going to be forced to vote Lib Dem out of sheer desperation.

That’s the long & short of it, Nosemonkey. Labour preach inclusiveness and equality, but it only applies to their favoured groups. You’re not one of them.

It has to be said: All minorities are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Labours 2010 message, Discrimination is OK, Sunny H makes the case. Can we have the definitions of who we are attacking? Do we have to measure their noses? I suggest we select a symbol, like a fox! to represent them, start using it to identify them easily. That way we can use the state to isolate them and incite hate and mistrust from the rest of the public, attack them with laws, and generally focus on coming down on them for causing all out ill’s.

I’m sure I read about this sort of thing going on in the 1930s though? Maybe you should do some research, get some pointers to help you on with the good fight!

Anyway Comrades! Death to the J.. I mean Toffs

@nosemonkey, Ed Balls’s point is relevant here: “David Cameron’s and George Osborne’s vulnerability is not their schools or their background but that they are prioritising tax cuts for the richest estates ahead of spending on the key public services”

In other words, the Labour “class war” campaign has nothing to do with how many surnames you have, how rich your dad is, or where you went to school – it’s pointing out that the Tories not only have several surnames, rich dads and went to good schools, but also that they intend to make policy in a way that primarily favours people in their situation.

In that case, john b, Labour gain some coherency in their argument – but only at the expense of explicitly standing against aspiration and personal advancement.

Vote Labour – Stay Poor. Nice one.

John – but that’s not how it comes across. If it’s economic, fine – trickle-down stimulation vs. bottom-up tactics is a debate worth having. Putting it in class terms, however, sucks in a large section of the middle classes who *should* be associating themselves with and rooting for the little guys in this, but due to the terminology and attitude being used are instead backing the bigwigs up top.

The thing Labour need to do is convince middle-income middle-class types that they have more in common with people on minimum wage than they do with the buggers on £200k+ a year.

That’s the only way this tactic will work – make clear that it’s not a *class* thing, it’s a *wealth* thing. (Which will also appeal to underlying middle-class snobbery about the uppity nouveau riche…)

Robtro, low politics is all about whipping up dislike for particular groups, over issues that aren’t terribly important. It can be a useful political tactic, but it’s unlikely to work at the fag end of an unpopular government.

WRT the Conservatives favouring the rich, all that Labour really has to go on is the Inheritance Tax proposal. But that will only be implemented when it’s affordable, and crucially, IHT is widely regarded as an unfair tax (55% to 38% support the Conservatives’ proposal, in the most recent poll).

And to many people, the higher reaches of the Labour Party are “the rich.”

Sunny,

So glad to see you encouraging a class war.

Tell me, at what point will you start calling for a race war?

Or are they just… like… totally not the same, man…?

DK

@DK You’re an idiot. [1]

You’ve seen two phrases (X War and Y War) and managed to concoct an entire post on a totally fallacious premise. Queue throng of bone headed libertarians saying how great you are in the comments.

Okay, lets do a thought experiment eh? What about if there were dozen, or hundred of blogs – lets call them squigaltarians – calling for a War against the Political Class? Would you be up for that? Somehow, if Sunny was calling for that I don’t think you would be writing the same thing in response.

(You can say; “Ho ho ho, it was all a joke! You lefties get wound up so easily now if you like”)

[1] In the internet, act ruder than you are in real life sense, if you said something this stupid in real life I would just assume you were merely grossly misinformed and try to teach you some english rather than attack you. But this is the internet so ho hum.

Left Outside; DK is pointing out that there is no intellectual coherence in inciting a “war” on people based on their parents’ wealth whilst prosecuting people who incite hatred of people based on their parents’ race.

He has a point, which you miss entirely.

John b developed the defence by applying it to someone’s personal income, rather than their parents’ income. That remains problematic, though, because it means that Labour is then declaring war on personal advancement and aspiration. John b did at least show some rational thought, though.

Either way, a stupid and desperate act by Brown & Balls.

And as for your hypothetical “War against the Political Class”, what do you think the 40% of people who don’t vote are doing?

“Balls as left-wing? I thought that was pretty funny. But then I guess it shows where some people think the political scale is”.

Indeed – odd that a politician who said “so what ?” (on record, in the commons) when it was pointed out that UK is the higest taxed country in Europe should be considered left wing………..

“And how would unemployment be helped by vastly cutting spending?”

Pretty much the same way that allowing a huge defecit does – i.e not at all. If the economy had been in better shape before the recession then spending cuts would equal tax rises and thus more money going into the economy. But because all the taxes were spent on pointless social engineering and increasing the size of the government, that can’t now happen for the forseeable future.
Unfortunatley Mr Brown didn’t quite manage to break a fundamental economic principle, boom and bust still exists, there will be a bust for the forseeable future, meaning uneployment will remain high. Cutting speding in these circumsatances is called “an economic plan based on ecomonic reality” (an unknown concept to most lefties) to correct structural economic weakness created by labours mismanagement of the economy over the past decade. And yes, it will hurt.

I sometimes think the left actually aspire for us to be on an economic par with Greece and Mexico…………………

I fink Sunny is trying just that bit too hard to show how intellectual he is – and, erm got it wrong again I’m afraid.

In fact most of the stuff he purports to be solid new labour thinking and praxis is no more than recycled tactics of the gutter like his emmisaries Brown and Balls and the unelected Mandelson

Left Outside,

“Okay, lets do a thought experiment eh? What about if there were dozen, or hundred of blogs – lets call them squigaltarians – calling for a War against the Political Class? Would you be up for that? Somehow, if Sunny was calling for that I don’t think you would be writing the same thing in response.

As @patently pointed out, one cannot help one’s class in the same way that one cannot help one’s race. Do you see?

My parents were well-off. Sunny’s parents were Indian. Both are things that neither of us can choose—but you think that a “war” on the basis of one of those is a good thing, but a war on the basis of the other is unconscionable.

As @patently also pointed out, if you prefer a war on those with lots of money then you are declaring war on aspiration—is that what you really want to do?

If you are, in fact, declaring war on those with lots of money—rather than a war on “class”—then you need to define “lots of money”. John B, for instance, earns considerably more than I do—in fact, he probably earns what I would call “lots of money”.

But should you meet the two of us, it is probably myself that you would designate as being more “upper class” (although it would be a close call, wouldn’t you say, John?).

So, I suggest that you define your terms and then we can have a sensible discussion. Of course, the tone of your post would suggest that you aren’t, in fact, terribly interested in a sensible discussion, so don’t bother your pretty little head about it.

DK

P.S. I should also point out—though it really shouldn’t be necessary—that neither Sunny nor I were able to choose our parents. The political classes, however, choose to be members of the political class.

DK

Well, Chris Mounsey has won me over. I’m joining the LPUK immediately. Can’t think of anything that could possibly prevent our winning the hearts and minds of the public.

@31: “The political classes, however, choose to be members of the political class.”

Quite so and I recall reading that: “Public funds totalling £500 million a year are being spent on an army of at least 29,000 professional politicians in the UK, according to new figures.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/feedarticle/8605308

Compare that with the British electorate of more than 44 million.

As @patently also pointed out, if you prefer a war on those with lots of money then you are declaring war on aspiration—is that what you really want to do?

How about a war on those who’ve acquired lots of money by good luck, rather than hard work or wise business decisions, and which consists solely of taking some of their money away and giving it to people who’ve ended up without much money by bad luck?

More generally: it’s possible to conceive of a strategy marketed as ‘class war’ that consisted of reviling people like DK and Nosemonkey (and, probably, me) for their accents. This would be a stupid and morally wrong strategy, on a par with one that reviled people on the basis of their religion.

Or, it’s possible to conceive of a strategy marketed as ‘class war’ that consisted of higher taxes on unearned income, lower taxes on low earners, refocusing government spending towards poor areas (e.g. by changing the way central council tax grants are distributed), etc. Or even of one that merely consisted of not lowering taxes on unearned income or high earners, while not cutting government spending on people who were poor.

Whatever you think of the brand name, it’s clear that the first one is a Bad Thing, and that the second is at the very least debatable. It’s also clear from the details of what’s been proposed that Labour’s current strategy is the second, not the first.

@32 bernard,

Well, Chris Mounsey has won me over. I’m joining the LPUK immediately. Can’t think of anything that could possibly prevent our winning the hearts and minds of the public.

*sigh*

I wasn’t trying to win anyone over. What I was trying to do (politely) was to get people to think about what they mean by “class”.

I am an Old Etonian, but I earn the median wage—what class am I?

If you are going to define my class by my earnings, then fair enough—and, being on the median wage, I’m with the workers.

If you are going to define my class by my parents’ earnings and where my parents decided to send me to school, then that is a “hereditary” thing. Just as I have no effect on my parents’ earnings, Sunny has no effect on his parents’ race.

So, how do you define my class: by my earnings, by my parents’ earnings, or by some nebulous and arbitrary measure?

If one is going to declare a “class war”, wouldn’t it be a good idea to define who, precisely, you are making war on…?

DK

P.S. What John B said.

DK

Yes, quite a lot of our criticisms of Tory procedure and policies revolve in part around their class basis, and Chameleon, Osborne and the billionaires who back them strengthen our case against them on those grounds.

John Rentoul and Tom Harris, and Tessa Jowell and some others are stigmatising quite minimal mentions of “Class” (Dare I say War too?)

Will there be codified attacks on Gordon Brown, if the polls do not continue to pick up? – we may well see.

We have a prospective Chameleon plutocracy, and it is organised by fringe aristos like Cham and Osborne. Indeed “call me Dave’s” first Shadow Front bench was HALF Old Etonian and ex Bullingdon.

Now he has widened the public school base to exclude many of those, but like minded Old Etonian former dope den habitue Zac Goldsmith hopes to be in there too.

A 9% lead is not daunting.

As Harris says, we have to be positive and stand on Labour’s excellent record. But the faults with Tory policy are very well illustrated by references to whose class they are intended to serve . . .

@ 34 What you are basically talking about is the “underserving” vs the “deserving” rich.

Problems with that –

Would you be in favour of debates about welfare based on the concept of the undeserving vs the deserving poor ?

How would you decide who is deserving ? Is Bill Gates more deserving that Warren Buffet ? Bono more deserving that Mick Jagger ? All have arguably benefited from luck (right place right time)

Is being born into wealth “deserving” (i.e your parents fault) if you think it is, then you also have to agree that being born into poverty is “deserving” (also your parents fault)

Look, this is such an old fashioned discussion-CLASS !

I mean we are not on the” TITANIC ” are we?

We middle deck dwellers won’t be denied a lifeboat will we? er will we???

I mean , we won’t be elbowed out of the way in our hour of need by some very loud bumptious character who has a country estate to run, will we? No, of course not, not these days surely? No one has to be deferential to anyone in these modern times, do we? Well ,do we?

Had a look for the Pete and Dud sketch on class- seems to have vanished, but poor old insecure stuffy Britain needs constant reassurance that it is a cut above the rest—-of the world.

Is being born into wealth “deserving” (i.e your parents fault) if you think it is, then you also have to agree that being born into poverty is “deserving” (also your parents fault)

Eh?

If you earn money, you’ve earned it. Well done.

If someone with lots of money gives you money because you share their DNA, you haven’t earned it at all. So taxing it (not in the sense of “taking it all away”, but in the sense of “taking some of it away, so you’re still much better off than someone who didn’t inherit money”) is fair enough.

So you’re saying it’s ok to discriminate against people born into wealth but not against people born into poverty – on what basis, other than naked jealousy ?

@ 39 – It’s a comple myth that class has vanished. A myth propogated by aeging baby boomers who are now worried about their annuinties, their arthritis and, horrified by the onset of creeping consevatism, and middle-class class guilt are desparately trying to convince themselves that they are still angry young men by pretending that class really does’t matter any more.

How many ex gas fitters are there in the house of commons I wonder……….

Nosemonkey: but that’s not how it comes across. If it’s economic, fine – trickle-down stimulation vs. bottom-up tactics is a debate worth having. Putting it in class terms, however, sucks in a large section of the middle classes who *should* be associating themselves with and rooting for the little guys in this,

How what comes across? In my previous post I outlined what ‘class war’ meant – it was the difference between the deserving rich and the undeserving rich – and highlighting the difference between a party advancing policies for the less well off and those advancing policies for the rich.

http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/12/17/why-it-makes-sense-for-labour-to-fight-the-class-war/

For reasons of brevity I call this ‘class war’.

Devil’s Kitchen:
My parents were well-off. Sunny’s parents were Indian. Both are things that neither of us can choose—but you think that a “war” on the basis of one of those is a good thing, but a war on the basis of the other is unconscionable.

you really are quite dense and I’m glad the LPUK has elected you as their leader because it ensures they won’t get anywhere.

In my last post, linked above, I pointed out that ‘class war’ strategy is simply an attempt to highlight economic concerns of Labour VS Tories. The latter wants to protect bankers, protect their bonuses, reward the rich land-owning classes, bring back fox hunting, don’t know how many houses they own etc etc.

Clearly your simple mind can’t fathom such nuanced language so I won’t bother engaging. Although it is amusing to see right-wing loons scream hysterically about class war and equate that with race war just because someone advocates higher taxes on the rich.

So you’re saying it’s ok to discriminate against people born into wealth but not against people born into poverty – on what basis, other than naked jealousy ?

Huh? I’ve never heard such stupidity. It’s like that saying about stupid people overwhelmingly being conservative.

Would you call progressive taxation a form of discrimination against rich people then? Should they sue for being singled out because they pay a higher percentage of tax?

I’m less interested in the rights and wrongs of the strategy than the fact that (like any core vote strategy) it doesn’t win elections.

I’m less interested in the rights and wrongs of the strategy than the fact that (like any core vote strategy) it doesn’t win elections.

where’s your evidence for that? I’ve already pointed out that most of the policies that could be pursued under this umbrella are very popular with the public. Up till about 67%. How that is seen purely as a core vote strategy doesn’t stack up.

Lastly, the problem Labour has is in getting its vote out and motivated. If it’s unable to do that then it loses regardless of whether the Tories win swing voters.

47. Donut Hinge Party

Can we actually start dissecting Tory policies properly, rather than second-guessing them?

For instance, a quick scour over the conservative website reveals these two concrete proposals.

1. Implementation of Work for Dole. The Australian model has been shown to unfairly advantage certain service providers at the expense of others – nepotism? – and to make exiting the welfare system an average of 20% harder.

2. Equity for Good Behaviour. Any council tenant with 5 years’ good behaviour gets GIVEN a 10% share in equity in their property. Apart from the presumption that most council tenants are ne’er do wells tamed by the prospect of property, this will only serve to financially tie the individual or family to a safety net that is supposed to be a moveable feast for the disadvantaged.

Attacking the Tories will not be enough to win the election, despite the way they have adopted the sort of ascendant position which makes them easier to pot than most oppositions.

We have to put forward the case for what HMG has done, which is outstanding, and what we shall do, which is developing.

49. diogenes1960

just loving the futile attempts of Sunny H to claim that he knows what he is talking about…- pure magic

50. david brough

You’re a cunt, aren’t you Matt Munro? It’s thanks to your heroine Thatcher, whose work has been carried on by her faithful henchmen Blair and Brown, that class is more of a factor than it was before 1979 when working-class people could make a decent living in honest jobs (which is why there were so few welfare dependents and criminals in those days), and when the unions allowed talent to rise.

It is the system which you supported that has destroyed these ladders, so why the fuck do you deliver your usual insubstantiated whinges about leftists? The fact is, anything your side can claim as your achievement- right to buy, deregulation, service “industries” and banker scum dominating the economy, absence of manufacturing, are in fact all gigantic frauds and failures.

This government has got fuck all to do with the left, who were speaking out against their lies and retention of Thatcher’s so-called laws, and were sneered at throughout but have in fact been vindicated as the old system went up in smoke in 2008. The feeble attempts to restore the status quo ante with taxpayers’ money will fail.

Someone working in a call centre in Portsmouth and living in a right to buy semi fucking IS working-class, as much as he may not realise it, but when the plastic runs out and his son can neither afford to buy a property nor get a council house, but remains living at home, on the dole and wondering why he can’t have any kind of decent life, then this youth will blame the real culprits. And if others don’t, it won’t take long into One-Term Cameron’s failed tenure, when we have gone from a government of Thatcherites lyingly claiming to be Labour to an openly and proudly right-wing government, that the left will come into its own.

The fact is that we will continue to need “class war” as long as the state apparatus props up the people who caused our woes in the first place, but vilifies working-class people who have fallen on hard times and comes up with elaborate ways of persecuting ordinary, harmless citizens. Of course it is utter hypocrisy for the government to wage it because they are the ruling class themselves, and are Tories, but it is wholly appropriate for me to continue using the language of class until workers have decent employment and control over the management of their own lives.

But, there is no real evidence that this strategy is popular. If it was, Labour would have won in 1983 and 1987, and Labour wouldn’t currently be on Michael Foot-type poll ratings.

Look at the polling figures. Voters favour the Conservatives’ IHT proposal by 55% to 38%, according to Com Res; big majorities oppose the increases in National Insurance Contributions, according to Yougov and Populus; Yougov polls consistently show that voters prefer the deficit to be reduced more by cutting public spending than by raising taxation; Yougov, ICM, and Populus indicate that far more voters trust Cameron and Osborne with the economy than trust Brown and Darling.

Extra taxes on “the rich” have always commanded majority support, and for much the same reason that reducing social security payments is usually identified as one of the most popular forms of reducing public expenditure; most voters don’t expect to be affected by it. But, the problem with Labour advocating extra taxes on the rich is that they give the impression that Labour is opposed to aspiration, hard work, and bettering oneself, an impression that Tony Blair spent years trying to dispell.

@david brough

I’ve worked in factories with working class folk from Portsmouth estates.

While I doubt they agree with me that HM Labour Government is the bees knees, thank heaven they won’t recognise the crapulescent tosh you spout as anything other than irrelevant.

You are like a troll implanted to give the class war element to Labour’s campaign a worse name.

Most working people want tax credits, and all the other benefits introduced and extended by Labour Chancellors retained rather than senseless abuse of our Government.

“where’s your evidence for that?”

Interesting post on pb about the effectiveness of class war strategy:

http://www2.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2009/12/28/do-class-war-issues-really-poll-well/

Sunny – I’m sure it’s not how either you or the Labour party intend it to come across, but any talk of class war from the left is going to conjure up images of the old-school radical lefties of the 70s/80s. It’s too charged a phrase – utterly inappropriate for what is actually meant (which, as you note, is more nuanced and subtle).

The thing is, nuanced and subtle doesn’t cut it. You *can’t* be nuanced and subtle when it comes to politics these days. I wish you could, but you just can’t. All people hear is the soundbite. And the soundbite here is “class war”.

Hell, I’m fairly politically engaged. I follow the news closely. But I’m positively fucked if I could tell you precisely what Labour means by “class war”. I know they aren’t stupid enough to mean “fuck the middle class”, but I genuinely have no idea precisely *who* it is they’re against.

I wouldn’t go as far as DK in this, but his reaction is understandable when the general strategy is couched in such outdated and easily misunderstood terms as class warfare.

Because it *isn’t* class warfare. It’s a poorly explained attack on the rich – and wealth has nothing to do with class.

/poorly-explained drunken attempt at more in-depth explanation from somewhere politically in the middle of this

Sean fear: But, there is no real evidence that this strategy is popular. If it was, Labour would have won in 1983 and 1987, and Labour wouldn’t currently be on Michael Foot-type poll ratings.

Firstly, correlation does not mean causality. I’ve not said anything about fighting 80s style ‘class wars’, nor do I doubt that most people see themselves as middle class and won’t reward parties that hate aspiration.

But if you see my points on what I’m referring to here – none of the points go back to fighting Michael Foot style wars.

Voters favour the Conservatives’ IHT proposal by 55% to 38%, according to Com Res

they also think by that same percentage that the Tories have policies that favour the rich over the poor. Why shouldn’t a party press home that point?

Yougov polls consistently show that voters prefer the deficit to be reduced more by cutting public spending than by raising taxation;

I accept that – New Labour did a very bad job of framing that debate and ultimately lost. I still don’t accept rightwing arguments, though if its emphasised what the impact of Tory policy would be – then people would think twice.

Interesting post on pb about the effectiveness of class war strategy:

I think Mike Smithson’s post not only spells my name wrongly (as always) it is incredibly muddled – economy is the number one issue for voters: and that is the issue I’m talking about here and arguing the parties should set a clear dividing line on. So either he doesn’t get what I’m arguing for, or he’s just mindlessly echoing Tom Harris.

Nosemonkey: It’s too charged a phrase – utterly inappropriate for what is actually meant (which, as you note, is more nuanced and subtle).

I agree – I’m calling it that but it doesn’t New Labour should do it too. I favour Ed Balls’ approach – say you hate ‘class war’ while saying the Tories are for the rich anyway. 🙂

I wouldn’t go as far as DK in this, but his reaction is understandable when the general strategy is couched in such outdated and easily misunderstood terms as class warfare.

The thing is I’ve explained what I stand for – if DK and his mates can’t read and come to this late then they look like fools.

I recognise the electorate doesn’t do nuance: which is why I’m all for saying publicly they should eschew the ‘class war’ while emphasising how Tories are favouring the rich.

52
‘Most working people want tax credits, and other working benefits’
Yes, unfortunately they do, they also need them in order to have a relatively low standard of living. Without those benefits the many would see just how inequal capitalism is and possibly do something about it This is what a real class-war would look like.

Can we all agree that anyone who owns a flat screen TV is a toff and go after them?

If not, why not?

I think class war politics are just the right policy for the Labour Party to adopt as it will ensure a victory at the next General Election for the electorate.

Nice to see Labour finally adopt a Libertarian policy

http://bastardoldholborn.blogspot.com/2009/12/libertarian-policy-at-last.html

60. Jules Wright

class war? us and them? jesus please us. the last refuge of the desperate damned, still arguing about the most spectacular way to commit political suicide.

go for it … don’t let sanity stop you. and watch how we the modern electorate – rather than a perpetually chippy band of fellow travellers locked inside a toxic ideological box of its own making – reacts.

can you hear that? it’s the sound of socialist fingernails digging panicked grooves in the last inches of boardwalk before the abyss.

@ Jules Wright.

Close. It’s actually the sound of fingernails on the inside of the coffin lid just before it’s finally lowered into the abyss.

@ Jules Wright

PS

… to wild cheering from the throngs of banner-waving, newly liberated voters, every one of them roaring at the tops of their voices, ‘Never again! Never again!’

I think it’s the well-founded anticipation of that ‘never again’ that’s got the left so king desperate.

Sunny – Clever people tend to earn more money than stupid people and the more you earn the more likley you are to vote conservative. Ergo the left are definately stupider than the right.

Yes it’s a puerile argument, like the one about more lefties being mentally ill, but you started it…….

Sunny you are an asshole. I wont waste my time debating this stupid article as other posters have pointed out the perversity of such an argument to wage war against any minority.

Next time a BNP guy wants to kick your head in, good luck to him. You need a good slap so you understand what war implies.

I truly had not thought so many of them would become soo desperate quite so quickly. Nasty boys with nowt to say. But:

“Conservative leadership loathes the party’s core vote” http://url.ie/4go9 Heffer & True Tories loathe Chameleon and are readying themselves for a succession.

As Jack Straw says: “Never before in the history of British elections has a political party spent so much to help so few”

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/jack-straw-the-tories-are-trying-to-buy-the-election-1852839.html

Cashcroft had a similar and unsuccessful bash in Oz though. Gave more money to the losers there than anyone ever had before . . .

66. Jules Wright

@ Prodicus

yup. have you noticed how perpetually divisive the left is, especially when threatened? hundal perfectly embodies this dysfunctional and bilious mindset, one that i can only rationalise as mental illness.

i note with a wry smile that this site states “misogynist, racist, homophobic and xenophobic comments will be deleted.” however class hatred is fine. pathetic.

the Party is over. the left deserves the thorough beasting it is about to receive. i for one will be laughing my socks off and clapping my hands with glee as this deeply unpleasant, cancerous and hypocritical credo is excised from our body politic and its crapulous acolytes returned to the ideological asylum from whence they came.

With a larf in the face of some perversely self aware wry smile I note that some rather confuse anger with hatred.

I do feel a little sorry for them in their desperation.

The gap has narrowed from 17% to 9% in the past 5 months . . .

A Tory party defeated 4 times in a row, with so many losers in the wings will not survive as it is. UKIP may be taken on as an affiliate, as may the Ulster Unionists.

Osborne or Davis next?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Nicolas Redfern

    RT @libcon: :: Long live the Class War strategy http://bit.ly/4WHB6X

  2. Tweet4Labour

    RT @libcon: :: Long live the Class War strategy http://bit.ly/4WHB6X

  3. Jenni Jackson

    RT @libcon: :: Long live the Class War strategy http://bit.ly/4WHB6X

  4. sunny hundal

    I say, long live the Class War strategy: http://bit.ly/4WHB6X

  5. Liat Norris

    RT @pickledpolitics I say, long live the Class War strategy: http://bit.ly/4WHB6X

  6. Leon Green

    RT @pickledpolitics I say, long live the Class War strategy: http://bit.ly/4WHB6X <- a shrewd one indeed.

  7. William Boot

    Kudos to FT on being called "right wing" – while upsetting Tories by being "lefty". Seem to be hitting liberal marks http://bit.ly/4WHB6X

  8. John McGregor

    RT @pickledpolitics I say, long live the Class War strategy: http://bit.ly/4WHB6X <- Class a major problem in the UK after 12 yrs of Labour!

  9. Liberal Conspiracy

    :: Long live the Class War strategy http://bit.ly/4WHB6X

  10. topsy_top20k_en

    :: Long live the Class War strategy http://bit.ly/4WHB6X

  11. DarrellGoodliffe

    RT @libcon: :: Long live the Class War strategy http://bit.ly/4WHB6X

  12. Cameron get it; Jowell doesn’t « Though Cowards Flinch

    […] that, if Labour gets it right and makes the right appeal about what it might mean to be a worker under a Tory government – whether you identify yourself […]

  13. manwiddicombe

    RT @devilskitchen Sunny Hundal advocates class war: http://bit.ly/5ePvmy How about a race war, Sunny?

  14. Prodicus

    At what point does a grown-from-scratch business cease to have Hundal's support, and why? http://bit.ly/8LwMMd

  15. The case against class war: closed | And another thing...

    […] class war: closed Monday, December 28th, 2009 SUNNY Hundal at Liberal Conspiracy has written his latest defence of a “class war” strategy for […]

  16. devilskitchen

    Sunny Hundal advocates class war: http://bit.ly/5ePvmy How about a race war, Sunny?

  17. Prodicus

    Lovely to see that nasty prat Hundal getting such a thoroughly deserved – and thorough – kicking http://bit.ly/5cgIg1

  18. Does Socialism cause Racism? « Left Outside

    […] Hundal has demanded Labour adopt a Class War strategy. Devil’s Kitchen has decided that this is analogous to a Race War strategy. It appears I have […]





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