Labour’s need for a Class War strategy explained


by Sunny Hundal    
10:50 am - December 29th 2009

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Various people have waded into our discussion of electoral strategy in the upcoming election, namely that I think New Labour should fight a ‘class war’, without understanding what I’m getting at.

So I’ll restate some points, rebut criticisms and start by simply saying that if newspapers like the Telegraph are trying to kill it then the strategy must have some merit.

I also think it exposes some generational differences within the Labour party.

What is Class War?
Class War takes place in the papers of the right-wing media every time New Labour raises taxes on the rich even slightly or has the temerity to mention any vaguely economically left-wing policy. New Labour has bent over backwards to shake-off old skool connotations of being in thrall of trade unions, and so it runs away as soon as the spectre of ‘class war’ is raised in the media. Actual policies have been very thin on the ground.

In the current news cycle ‘class war’ nominally took off when Alastair Darling decided to marginally tax bankers’ bonuses. Since then the right-wing media have tried their best to play up supposed differences among ministers on the ‘class war strategy’. The Indy jumped on the bandwagon by bringing in the fox hunting angle.

What should it refer to?
As I said earlier, the problem New Labour has (other than its leader and a host of policies) is that the electorate is having trouble trying to figure out why they should vote for them again. This is demonstrated by polls showing that even though Cameron is riding high, a significant percentage are sceptical but are going along with the anti-Labour wave.

In other words New Labour needs a coherent narrative to set out a big divide between them and the Tories and present the electorate with an actual choice. Otherwise Cameron will be elected under the ‘time for a change‘ banner. Given that the economy is the biggest issue: the natural strategy would be to point how Tory policies will favour the few and the rich, while Labour will look after the hard-working majority.

But really…? ‘Class war’?
I’m using the term as short-hand. Ed Balls (who I’m not a big fan of) had it right when he dismissed ‘class war’ and then went on to paint the Tories as for the privileged and the few. That works fine as a narrative. As I said earlier, for me ‘class war’ means more populist left-wing economic policies and rhetoric, and pointing out why Tories don’t get it.

But Tom Harris MP says its unpopular, so it must be true!
“In 1979, 1983, 1987 and 1992, Labour promised tax increases (but only for the wealthy) and got hammered,” says Tom Harris. True, but correlation does not mean causation. There are a number of reasons why Labour lost during those years, including having some incredibly bad leaders and being too associated with the Winter of Discontent. Darrell Goodliffe counters by pointing out that the financial crisis means the mood has changed towards the ‘undeserving rich’ – a fact also borne out by other polling.

In fact, most of these measures are economically populist and have high support (especially taxing bankers bonuses). Plus, that rhetoric is odd coming from an MP who said MPs should listen to the people… on immigration. Didn’t that negativity supposedly lose the Tories two elections? Different standards for different kinds of people I guess.

But New Labour must hate aspiration then!
No. The electorate is intelligent enough, and polling bears this out, to differentiate between hard-working people who earn good salaries and / or work for themselves, and fat-cat bankers who screwed our banking system. The narrative (and policy obviously) should be geared towards small business – the real drivers of the economy – not banks. That kind of aspiration any lefties could support.

But it will put off voters!
Not necessarily. First, it must be broad economic populism. Secondly, a majority of people agree the Tories are focused more on the rich. The narrative has a ready audience. Thirdly, Labour needs two constituencies: undecided swing voters and core Labour vote, to win. The former need to see more of a divide between the parties, and the latter need incentive to go out and vote because right now they’re much less likely to vote. Hoping small policy differences with the Tories will win them elections is a fool’s game. On the other hand, since Labour announced taxes on bankers bonuses, it has won a strong of local elections.

Does negativity put off voters? Well, Cameron has been running with ‘Broken Britain’ for over two years and it’s not harmed his ratings. He started off by saying he wanted to avoid the ‘Punch and Judy’ show of politics and quickly abandoned that. Again, ratings not hurt. Only now, once class war has started, he’s trying to pretend he’s playing it clean. As someone famously said: Man, you come right out of a comic book.

But do we really want a re-run of the 70s?
Paul Sagar is right on the money when he says it’s Class war, Jim, but not as we knew it. Unlike many socialists or right-wing Labour MPs, I’m not harking back to some golden era when people saw themselves as ‘working class lads’ and wanted nothing more but to punch a few Tories. I’ve not advocated socialism or mass-strikes to ‘overthrow the ruling classes’ in any of my pieces on this subject.

Economic populism of the left has deep roots: this why poorer people largely vote Labour. But that doesn’t mean middle class people hate the poor or working classes: in fact they massively support the minimum wage and the NHS for altruistic reasons. That doesn’t make New Labour a party that hates aspiration at all. This looks to be a generational difference – illustrating how many Labour MPs are still scared of the negative connotations from pre-Thatcher days while the electorate has moved on.

But won’t Tories win the election anyway?
The polls indicate that. The Libdems have steadfastly refused to catch up and fill the void. And I would like to avoid seeing a massive Conservative landslide. So I’m advocating strategy I think will help Labour at least narrow the defeat. Tinkering around the edges is not going to win them any votes. New Labour must get radical or a huge number of its MPs (incl some very progressive one) will end up being chucked out.

PS: Mike Smithson too defines ‘class war’ in very narrow terms, and has therefore missed the point.

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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 ,Conservative Party ,Economy ,Labour party ,Westminster


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Reader comments


It seems as if you’re suggesting that pursuing divisive political narratives, demonizing a segment of the population, is ok if it delivers Labour an election victory.

If this is pursued then then I suspect the baby will be thrown out with the increasingly murky bathwater, and we won’t see Labour again for years. And all because some achingly middle-class agitators want to sling some mud.

2. Silent Hunter

Gosh thanks for ‘explaining’ Labours whole “Class War:” thing to us mere mortals, Sunny.

That changes everything – there was me thinking that it was a pretty stupid way of engaging the electorate, who can see for themselves just how bad 12 years of Labours economic mismanagement has been for the country and yet I hadn’t appreciated that we were all just really wanting to “Bash the Toff’s”.

How simple.

Personally I hope that Labour do push the class war thing – it’s bound to be a vote winner for them, as can be seen by the reaction so far. LOL

Sunny,

I agree that the right strategy is essentially one of class war. But I’m adamant that the language of class war must be abandoned. Because it’s completely unhelpful and tactically unwise:

http://badconscience.com/2009/12/28/class-war-jim-but-not-as-we-knew-it/

Duh, read last part of post before commenting…

101 for why it’s worth reading a whole post, even when it’s long….

“Economic populism of the left has deep roots”

Aye, deep roots in stupidity.

This is the point about that leftish economic populism that so enrages people like me. Not that the goal is undesirable (for many of the goals are desirable) but that the methods chosen to reach said goals don’t in fact work. In many cases they are actually counter-productive.

Just as one example, take the taxation of corporate profits. You’ve got the economically illiterate like Polly and R. Murphy shouting that companies must pay “their fair share”. That taxes they don’t pay fall upon the shoulders of the workers.

Then you’ve got the literate like Larry Elliott (well, he is on a good day) and Vince Cable pointing out that companies don’t pay tax: people do. The tax incidence argument.

Now, when you take on board that (not very surprising and long known point about incidence) you start to realise that if you want both an ongoing increase in living standards and also a more progressive tax and benefit system then you have to do what the Nordic countries do. You want lower taxes on corporate profits and capital in general than we have now. Sure, you can also have higher income taxes, as they do (and to get the money you really need for a large redistributive State you need higher consumption taxes, VAT, as well).

Now note that I’m not a supporter of this sort of social democracy. But that isn’t my point here. It’s that if you do desire this then it would help if you took on board how those places actually do work.

Rather than simply appealing to the populist instincts….make the companies pay!

That’s what annoys: this economic populism ends up not delivering the results that are promised.

On my table There are three things; a laptop, a labour membership card and a pair of scissors. I suspect that if sunny posts one more article there will be four things.

I have followed this debate over the past few days – and still cannot understand why anyone thinks that trying to claim people should be barred from political office based on their parents actions is a good thing.

Will the children of criminals be barred from political office due to the actions of their parents?

Will the children of bankrupts or mentally ill people be barred from political office due to the actions of their parents?

If it is wrong to bar the children of poor parents from political office, why try to argue that the children of rich parents should be somehow forbidden from seeking a job which is deemed to be one of service to the people.

Are the rich not allowed to serve?

Ok, correction, ‘It seems as if you’re suggesting that pursuing divisive political narratives, demonizing a segment of the population, is ok if it lessens a Labour an election loss’.

Point remains – it won’t. It’s a useless strategy.

101 reasons why it’s worth engaging with the substantive point of a comment.

9. Alisdair Cameron

Talk about redefining terms to suit, Sunny. So, that’s “class war” as defined by you, and not “class war” as understood by the majority of your readers…. perhaps as you’ve been so misunderstood, using the term “class war” wasn’t such a bright idea?

There is that famous quote from Aneurin Bevan about “socialism being the language of priorities.”
http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/politicsphilosophyandsociety/story/0,,1493978,00.html

It stretches gullibility to be asked to believe that the Conservative shadow cabinet with its 19 millionaires, transported into government at the election, will have remotely similar public spending priorities to a Labour government even when the said Labour government is an unapologetic convert to Anglo-Saxon capitalist ideologies.

It is often forgotten that Adam Smith wrote:

“The third and last duty of the sovereign or commonwealth is that of erecting and maintaining those public institutions and those public works, which, though they may be in the highest degree advantageous to a great society, are, however, of such a nature that the profit could never repay the expense to any individual or small number of individuals, and which it therefore cannot be expected that any individual or small number of individuals should erect or maintain.”
Wealth of Nations (1776), Bk 5, Chp 1, Pt 3.

‘I agree that the right strategy is essentially one of class war. But I’m adamant that the language of class war must be abandoned. Because it’s completely unhelpful and tactically unwise:’

What I’m seeing is ‘class war’ redefined so that it sets the proles against the aristos while leaving the bourgiousie essentially untouched. That probably seemed radical in the 18th Century.

…. perhaps as you’ve been so misunderstood, using the term “class war” wasn’t such a bright idea?

Alisdair – in my earlier article on the class war strategy I again explained that it was all about economic policies and economic populism. How more clear should I have been?

and still cannot understand why anyone thinks that trying to claim people should be barred from political office based on their parents actions is a good thing.

Who said anything about barring anyone?

It seems as if you’re suggesting that pursuing divisive political narratives, demonizing a segment of the population, is ok if it delivers Labour an election victory.

On the other hand – Cameron’s narratives have of course been upbeat (Broken Society?) all the time and never demonised anyone (poor people) at all have they?

Ian_Vists @ 7

Very good point. But then classism is one of the forms of discrimination of which the left approves. After all, you will notice from the comments policy of lefty blogs, that only a limited range of discriminations are prohibited. Classist comments aren’t frowned on, neither, for that matter, are ageist ones.
In any case, the classist tactic might have worked when the perceived toffs could be clearly contrasted with people who were recognisable as working folk, but the left is now something with which ordinary people no longer feel any sense of affiliation or natural sympathy. The left used to be down-to-earth people who worked in factories, foundries, mines, had a sense of humour, liked a fag with their pints. Now you can search the ranks of the left in vain for a factory worker, a train driver, a labourer, they’re prissy, holier-than-thou non-smoking veggies, unconvincing greens, feminists, students, lecturers in politics at the University of Bolsover, journalists, media types. The left is a completely different animal to what it was.

14. Silent Hunter

On the other hand – Cameron’s narratives have of course been upbeat (Broken Society?) all the time and never demonised anyone (poor people) at all have they?

Er? . . . in case you hadn’t noticed, society IS broken.
Probably difficult to spot when you inhabit the Westminster Village or Islington I suppose.

So Cameron has ‘demonised’ poor people has he?

Is that worse than doubling their income tax? 10p Tax ring any bells, Sunny?

Who was that again? . . . ah yes! . . . that would be that kind, caring Mr Brown.
6 million caught in that little poverty trap and all to make Gordon “look good” at one particular PMQ.

What a nice, honest son of the manse. Pah!

In other words, Labour and the left are out of time, talent, steam and ideas and want to fight an election on what is essentially shit stirring through creating and exploiting societies divisions? How is that a good idea! My god… Sunny you are so far gone is untrue, the progressives should weep and all should hang their heads in shame that in the middle of the worst economic crisis since there war this is all there is left to go on.

@Sunny

‘On the other hand – Cameron’s narratives have of course been upbeat (Broken Society?) all the time and never demonised anyone (poor people) at all have they?’

This is just disingenuous. Firstly, you shouldn’t answer your own critics by appealing to what someone else did – most of us learnt this in junior school. Secondly, the ‘Broken Society’ line gained traction because people tend to think there is a whiff of truth in it – and it is something for which we are all culpable, and ultimately responsible.

Your own approach, on the other hand, is not so much downbeat as vindictive, and purposely tries to create villains for to mobilise against. Hardly the surest way of promoting a harmonious society.

Ian @7 Trofim @13 – Did you actually read Sunny’s post? You appear to be completely missing the point of it. What’s been termed as Labour’s “class war” has been all about economic populism and has almost nothing to do with what you might call “classism” beyond the odd few quips about Eton.

Oh man, so many people with complete reading comprehension failure. It’s not even worth addressing to this drivel: the progressives should weep and all should hang their heads in shame that in the middle of the worst economic crisis since there war this is all there is left to go on.

Please tell me what the right’s response is? Scaremongering about the deficit? About our supposed fall in credit ratings? About austerity? That’s a great vision that is.

I agree with other commentators that using the term “class war” is unhelpful, not least because it is confusing people.

It’s also not a good argument to say that it is a way for Labour to narrow the scale of defeat, which is the sort of thing which people like Tom Harris can jump on.

But what Sunny’s arguing for are policies which help the middle and working classes, and which two thirds or more of people say they support. It’s backed up by detailed research from the Fabians which shows that people distinguish between the deserving and undeserving rich.

Some of the arguments against this strategy point out that Labour is being hypocritical in now attacking the rich, for a number of reasons, which is a fair point.

But there are also a number of people, including influential commentators, who are arguing that these policies will be unpopular, and their arguments are extraordinarily flimsy or rely on misrepresentation. So Danny Finkelstein and John Rentoul say that it would show Labour was “against aspiration”, and Mike Smithson seems to think that the fact that the economy and unemployment are the top two issues of concern proves that Labour shouldn’t adopt economically populist policies because people won’t care about them(!)

Sunny’s critics amongst the commentariat haven’t actually got a single shred of evidence – qualitative or quantitative – for what they are saying, just their own assumptions and prejudices.

20. Silent Hunter

Oh man, so many people with complete reading comprehension failure. It’s not even worth addressing to this drivel:

Or in other words . . .

The majority disagree with me . . . conclusion? . . . the majority must be wrong.

I don’t know why its so surprising to you Sunny; after all, that’s the principal on how we have been governed this century and the last for that matter . . . the majority don’t vote for the Tories – we get a Tory Government . . . or . . . the majority don’t vote for a corrupt Labour Government – we get Corrupt Labour Government.

You really need to get over yourself.

19 In practice, it’s very difficult to devise policies that bash “the undeserving rich” while leaving the “deserving rich” and middle classes alone.

For example, the PBR envisages a special tax on bankers’ bonuses that may raise £500 m (but may also be easily avoided) and a 1% increase in National Insurance contrbutions on employers and employees that will take in about £7bn, is hard to avoid, adversely affects about 8m people, and inhibits job-creation.

It’s not surprising therefore that many people would view a left wing populist economic strategy with considerable hostility.

Silent Hunter @20 – No, I believe you’ll find it’s that a huge number of the commentors decided to trot out mindless drivel attacking a bunch of imaginary straw men arguments that were not even made in Sunny’s post.

Sean@21 – You’re argument mixing up populist and non populist policies, the banker tax is populist, the employers national insurance increase is not. The problem is not that left wing economic populism is unpopular (quite the opposite), it’s that there are limits to how much money can be raised by these types of taxes.

Sean Fear – what Andreas said above. I’m opposed to rises in NI, I would rather raise the top income rate of tax further. Once you figure out where we are on the Laffer Curve, let us know.

Don – thanks.
It’s also not a good argument to say that it is a way for Labour to narrow the scale of defeat, which is the sort of thing which people like Tom Harris can jump on.

Sure, but Tom Harris will nevertheless jump on what suits him. He jumps on supposedly populist issues like immigration which lost the Tories two elections, but hates populist policies like higher taxes on the rich for no real reason backed up by evidence.

I’m just looking at the polls and being straight: certain things are possible, certain things are very unlikely.

If you want to raise serious money, you have to go for the people who can’t afford to find out ways of avoiding it.

What you’re proposing is entirely tokenistic.

‘the natural strategy would be to point how Tory policies will favour the few and the rich, while Labour will look after the hard-working majority.’

You mean that Tory policies differ about 1% from Labour’s, both will mess up the economy and leave everybody in the sh!t.

That Mr Keynes has a lot to answer for.

Sunny,

Thanks for the clarification. Naturally, I don’t agree with your ideas—Tim Worstall has pretty much explained why—but this post does clarify your terms.

DK

@25: “That Mr Keynes has a lot to answer for.”

On the contrary. We should all be eternally grateful to Keynes because the recent international recession did not develop into a global depression on the scale of the 1930s.

Try this comparison:
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/the-story-so-far-in-one-picture/

The fiscal stimulus in Britain, announced in Darling’s PBR last November, was very modest compared with the fiscal boosts applied in the US or in Germany.

FWIW most attacks IME on Keynes and his macroeconomic theories are conducted by folks who haven’t read Keynes’s General Theory and know little or nothing about macroeconomics.

Ever helpful, here is a link to an online edition of Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money:
http://homepage.newschool.edu/het//texts/keynes/gtcont.htm

Years back, there were several warnings by informed commentators of looming potential economic disasters as likely consequences of financial market failures but the warnings were ignored:

“The rapidly growing trade in derivatives poses a ‘mega-catastrophic risk’ for the economy and most shares are still ‘too expensive’, legendary investor Warren Buffett has warned.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/2817995.stm

And this from 2002 about the inflating house-price bubble in Britain:

“CHARLES GOODHART, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee [and economics prof at the LSE], warned yesterday that the Bank is failing to take sufficient account of the house price boom in setting interest rates.

“His warning comes amid growing fears among economists that house prices, fuelled by the lowest interest rates for 38 years, are getting out of control. Yesterday, new figures showed that homeowners are borrowing record amounts against the rising value of their homes. . . ”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2002/04/06/cngood06.xml

“As I said earlier, for me ‘class war’ means more populist left-wing economic policies and rhetoric, and pointing out why Tories don’t get it.”

All the lefty economic policies and rhetoric won’t get Labour out of the shit. Brown can promise anything and everything economically but no-one will listen, he’s led the country into recession.

The one tactic New Labour has is to question the Tory shadow cabinet’s experience, background and suitability. Hammer home the number of tax exiles, the number of Eton educated millionaires, that they represent the interests of a small section of the wealthiest and most powerful in society.

It’s not a great tactic, it won’t work, but it’s all they’ve got. Hammering the Tories on their personal background and circumstances is what everyone else means by ‘class war’ in the coming election, not Brown chuntering on about targets for the tractor factory and potato harvest.

“[Brown's] led the country into recession.”

How come so many other economies – such as the US and other west European countries – have also been through a severe recession?

For a comparison between this international recession and what happended in the 1930s, try this:
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/the-story-so-far-in-one-picture/

Where Brown is culpable is in believing he really had abolished boom ‘n’ bust.

Bob b, I don’t think we’re disagreeing particularly. As I said, Brown led the country into recession. If I’d meant ‘Brown caused the recession’ that’s what I’d have written.

As Chancellor, Brown ignored many warnings about public borrowing, private debt and house price inflation. The damaging lack of regulation of the UK financial sector happened on his watch. He didn’t cause the recession by any means, but his decisions in the build-up have contributed to the pain felt in the UK. Additionally I’m not convinced of the wisdom of some of his actions since, for example quantative easing seems like a recipe for inflation.

All a bit beside the point however. Brown can’t say “it’s the economy, stupid” and win votes. For him having been in charge of the economy is, rightly or wrongly, a vote loser. One of the few tactics available to him is a character attack on the Tories.

Personally I’m looking forward to a thoroughly dirty election – I think we’re in for a real humdinger.

Sunny,

I am and my family are working class and have been for 400 years, I can trace some of our descendants back to Elizabethan Bristol.

I am guilty of a terrible crime though, I aspired, worked hard and I mean really hard and now I earn good money. I have middle class tastes, I like middle class things, I ski for heaven’s sake.

But I am working class by birth, middle class by income.

So where does your class war draw the distinction? Am I exempt because I am working class and can prove it? Or am I in the firing line because I had the temerity to work my balls off in a competitive environment and come off quite well?

Please do tell me how on earth this is going to win votes with the millions of people that graft, work hard and just want to get on in life?

Or are we class traitors to your ’cause’ (circa 1980) ?

Or this is a sop to the lazy, workshy and can’t-be-bothered that Labour’s largesse to them will always be bigger than the Tories? A shoring up of the bitter that always were Labour’s core vote

I have news for you Sunny, people want a fair crack, they want the government to stop preaching at them and take quite a few steps back to just let them get on with it.

You have your class war but do you know what, I’ll side with the toffs because the rump of your ‘working class’ do anything but ‘work’.

Bring it on because it looks ridiculous, preaching class war when the Cabinet are amongst some of the educated elite and are amongst the top 1% of earners.

And who for the last 12 years made the poor poorer and rich richer?

It wasn’t the Tories.

“I have news for you Sunny, people want a fair crack, they want the government to stop preaching at them and take quite a few steps back to just let them get on with it.”

Really? Just why did so many banks fail in America and Britain?

For sure, it wasn’t because of too much government regulation and oversight.

This is Alan Greenspan’s testimony on 24 October 2008 to the US House of Representatives Oversight Committee:

“Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief.”
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122476545437862295.html

Btw Alan Greenspan was the previous chairman of the Board of Governors of the US Federal Reserve Bank so I suspect he knows a thing or two about what caused the recent financial crisis.

34. Paul Pinfield

Sunny, the problem with using the term Class War is that it both words have overwhelmingly negative connotations. It seems to me that using this type of language is akin to going out canvasing whilst wearing an ‘I am a rapist’ T- Shirt. You message is rather lost underneath the screaming proclamation…

Of course our problem is that we have never had a proper “Class War”.

The French had their revolution in the late 18th century and the Bolsheviks sorted the Russian toffs out in the early 20th century but, somehow, we never got round to it.

Why was that do you think?

In any event, the working classes never really won a clear victory in the UK and that fact has left a nasty taste in the mouths of some.

So, quite frankly, I’m not at all sure that taxing the rich at a higher rate or banning aristocratic pursuits really cuts it.

Let’s guillotine the bastards.

That’ll sound good on the doorsteps, Sunny.

If there are 19 millionaires in the Shadow Cabinet and 20 millionaires in the ‘Labour’ Cabinet, on what side should an old trot serve in the new Class War?

Having read a lot of the commentary about ‘class warfare’ over the last few weeks I have been only able to reach one conclusion: That the protagonists will not be the ones Labour would like them to be.

It’s simple economics. You can tax the rich as hard as you like- it will yield little financial return. They have economic mobility, and there are so few of them in reality as to have almost no effect.

You can then tax the middle classes, those on £50K upwards. That will yield modest sums. Remember that VAT affects them slightly more as a proportion of tax paid/income, as do things like property tax and energy bills.

Then you can tax the working class. VAT hits them hard, but there are millions of them so the pain is productive and therefore the debt gets paid. They are immobile because their employers make all the choices in a time of high unemployment. Income tax in this group (£20-50k) hits very hard too, as does NI. However, what choice do they have?

Then there in the non working class, or the perpetually supported in work. They cannot be taxed any further because they are not net contributors. Those on the borders of these two groups may well be hit a little and will have a choice to make. Every tax rise to this group will have to be matched with a rise to in work/unemployment benefits so that these people cannot be further affected by the recession.
(I concede that the maths is a little broad brush and the dividing lines too arbitrary, but maybe the point is made)

So what is most likely to happen is that the class war divide will fall between those who are net contributors (probably about (£25K upwards), and all those who contribute less to the tax system than they withdraw in benefits and relief.

Is that what Labour want? Is that what anybody wants?

@36: “If there are 19 millionaires in the Shadow Cabinet and 20 millionaires in the ‘Labour’ Cabinet, on what side should an old trot serve in the new Class War?”

Do you have a citation with link to support that claim?

This is the citation for the claim that there are 19 millionaires in the Conservative shadow cabinet:

“There has been mounting speculation in recent months about the personal wealth of the leading figures in the Conservative Party. Interest has heightened after the Tories announced that they would implement an austerity budget, slashing public services, if elected to Government. Research carried out last year by the News of the World recorded 19 millionaires in the Shadow Cabinet, giving some indication of the level of wealth at the top of the Conservative Party. Here Times Money has updated the list.”
http://timesbusiness.typepad.com/money_weblog/2009/11/10-wealthiest-tories.html

#33

So you are saying that the banking crisis was created on the playing fields of Eton?

What an utterly facile and truly desperate thing to say. Bankers don’t come from Charterhouse or Eton, they are from all walks of life as banking is one of the great meritocratic industries.

Did the Spanish, Swedish or Canadian banks keel over? No. Why?

Because their government regulation prohibited them in dealing with the eventual toxic products some banks were peddling. Government allowed banks to overleverage themselves in ever larger takeovers of other banks and lend larger sums of money.

So our regulation was faulty. Labour’s regulation at that. It is not a question of too much or too little regulation, it is a question of the right regulation. The Shadow Chancellor warned as much in the debate of the Bank of England Act in 1997.

So is Labour’s class war with the bankers and an industry that it bailed out with £250bn of our money?

When manufacturing industries have been failing and shedding jobs for 12 years costing 2,500,000 jobs. Still according to government ministers those workers can always stack supermarket shelves.

Labour’s class war is one thing and one thing, a dog whistle to the bitter and discontented core vote to stop voting for the BNP and shore up Labour’s vote. Please don’t pretend otherwise.

@25: “That Mr Keynes has a lot to answer for. ”

Oh dear: according to this news report today even the French government has been engaging in keynesian fiscal measures to boost their national economy and there’s an illuminating bar chart for comparative public debt levels of world leading economies based on IMF data.

“France’s public debt has risen to a new high of 76% of economic output after additional state spending during the downturn, figures have shown.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8434545.stm

Perhaps it would be a good time to point out that his Tonyness was;

A Barristers Son

Attended Fettes public school

Attended Oxford

Is a qualified barrister

Is a millionaire several times over

Ok so he’s not quite aristocracy, but he hasn’t ever got dirt under his fingernails either

I won’t even start on Harriet Harman……………

Actually I will

Harriet Harman (Deputy leader of the new class warrior labour party)

Daughter of a Harley Street doctor (of the Longford aristocratic faily) and a solicitor

Privately educated at St Pauls girls school

Graduated (Politics) York University (You can’t win em all)

Sends her children to private school

Bizzarely (according to the Sun as cited in Wikipedia) she is also distantly related to David Cameron by marriage

Her only claims to being anything other than upper middle calss are a conviction for contempt of court and a couple of runs in with the law over motoring offences

“of the Longford aristocratic faily”

I thought it was her aunt who married in and became Countess of Longford?

It obviously doesn’t matter what happens to the country, just so long as Labour get another term. Great. I’m apparently working class, but even I don’t want to stay here. Labour – if you earn more than half of what we do, we’ll make sure you pay it all in tax.

Bob B @38

Who needs a journo to stand up Paolo’s point? Just use your own brain/knowledge/common sense.

Sean Woodward is married to a Sainsbury, has a country house, a pad in town and a butler. Definitely a millionaire.

Peter Mandelson lives in a £2.4 million house with no mortgage and is paid £106K.

The Milibands just sold Ralph’s old property for 1.3 million and David earns £141,000. Each owns another place.

Jowell and Harman require no further elaboration.

Lord Drayson (attends Cabinet) is a multi multi millionaire.

Gordon Brown qualifies on his salary alone – not to mention his London flat currently let = and scottish home.

Straw has a house in London another in Oxon plus a constituency one. Must be a millionaire

….and so on

Deleted.

Not surprised, you’re like bunch of middle class students buggering about.

To parapharse Henry Kissinger, “Liberal Conspiracy politics are so vacuous because there is so little at stake”.

47. Silent Hunter

Andreas Paterson:

If I could just point you to the plethora of comments here that would seem to support the criticism of Sunnys stance about “Class War”.

I suggest you read them before commenting again and confirming what we always suspected.

Dear lord, if I had a quid for every self satisfied Tory who thought he was being _oh so clever_ in leaving a comment pointing out the walthy backgrounds of certain Labour figures I’d be a millionaire. I don’t, so these stupid comments which have little relevance to the actual post do nothing more than rehash old, long dead and irrelevant arguments.

Is there some divine law somewhere that says that if you’re rich then it’s somehow morally wrong to work to help the plight of the working man? Is putting forward policies that help themselves and their rich friends the only morally correct thing for a rich politician to do?

“Is there some divine law somewhere that says that if you’re rich then it’s somehow morally wrong to work to help the plight of the working man?”

Of course not.

“Is putting forward policies that help themselves and their rich friends the only morally correct thing for a rich politician to do?”

Of course not. But part of this class war thing is that Brown et al are doing the dog whistle…..look at them rich bastards over there, that’s all they will do…..

As opposed to us non rich bastards who have helped the poor by raising NI, abolishing the 10p tax rate…..

Silent Hunter@47 – When attempting assert intellectual superiority, it’s generally better to actually be in posession of it.

Andreas Patterson @ 48

I hope your ‘self satisfied Tory’ jibe wasn’t aimed at me. I’ve been Labour all my life.

The fact that the present Cabinet is largely made up of millionaires is IMHO relevant to a discussion of whether a strategy of economic populism is likely to work.

Just as the fact that the main banks are in de facto public ownership somewhat cramps any aspiring economic populists room for action in bashing bankers, if you follow.

In the US , The Republican party has used fear to gain support; it appears that Labour wish to gain supoort by using envy; both are negative emotions which would be best if we humans tried to reduce as part of our emotional make up.
If we look at Ernie Bevin, one of the greatest working class Labour ministers , he was remarkably free of class hatred. When someone said there ther were too many public schoolboys in the Foreign Office his reply was ” They did all right in the Battle of Britain”.

The problem for Labour is that most of it’s ministers have no real labour credibility, they have have never undertaken skilled or unskilled labour . Any public school officer who has undertaken any form of military training has performed more manual labour than most of the Labour cabinet In fact a public school educated officer has more shared work experience with a labourer digging a trench than most Labour ministers. The vast majority of Labour politicians are now just envious pen pushers and papers shufflers.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    :: Labour's need for a Class War strategy explained http://bit.ly/63L0Wq

  2. Hannah Mudge

    Liberal Conspiracy » Labour’s need for a Class War strategy explained http://bit.ly/63L0Wq

  3. tombrookspolloc

    @JamesAsser Having read this tho – http://bit.ly/50eMSH – was reminded that class war is primarily an obsession of right-wing 'papers

  4. meral hussein ece

    RT @libcon: :: Labour's need for a Class War strategy explained http://bit.ly/63L0Wq

  5. sunny hundal

    Labour’s need for a Class War strategy explained (by me): http://bit.ly/7McS74

  6. Gordon Masterton

    Liberal Conspiracy » Labour’s need for a Class War strategy explained http://bit.ly/63L0Wq

  7. devilskitchen

    Sunny clarifies his "class war" terms: http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/12/29/labours-need-for-a-class-war-strategy-explained/

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