A Conservative Workers Party?

We lefties laugh and sneer at the concept of the Conservative attempts to re-brand themselves as a workers’ party, but I see nothing new here. We should not laugh, but the Conservatives should wonder why a re-branding exercise is necessary at all. A party that purports to represent the whole country should not have to suddenly remember one of the largest constituencies.

Those that consider themselves working class are a shrinking band, but it is still a huge number of people – although the picture nowadays is a lot more complicated than when Labour was formed to represent working people. (It is an interesting question to ask people what class they think they belong to – I consider myself working class, but I probably have a middle class lifestyle nowadays.)

Something like 40% of the population would broadly fit in the working class description. Socio-economic groupings are a bit of a mystery to me; there are eleven Mosaic socio-economic groupings (and a lot more sub-groupings), and I am never entirely sure where I fit in. However, it is perception that matters here, particularly for those who vote based on association. Many who feel working class will vote for the party that they identify as best representing that class.

In the old days, before the idea of One Nation Conservatism was buried by Thatcherism, the Conservative Party actively tapped into the aspirations of workers – they had to, they could not hope to win General Elections unless they did so. Labour’s job then was largely to expose this for the sham it was. Mrs Thatcher tapped into changing times and exchanged naked populism for anything resembling attempts at uniting the nation. Her divide and rule attitude to politics is decidedly at odds with Conservativehome’s first choice of songs for the Workers’ Party. Thatcher undermined heavy industry, including iron and steel, whilst in throe to the City.

Knock on the doors in any workers area – you will find Tories in surprising places. The jam tomorrow dreams of those in penury often finds solace in a blue rosette. Labour has to show that the route out of poverty is not through over-rewarding the already wealthy or by making education unaffordable for the poor.

I suspect that the Workers’ Party dreams of the Conservatives is also an acknowledgement of the growing underclass they have helped create. They will encourage ‘workers’ to shun those forced idle by welfare and economic policies designed to grow the wealth gap.

Ultimately, it still boils down to the economy, and prosperity. Workers need jobs, a stable and growing economy, and a promise of better for their children. Those best seen to be able to deliver this will get their trust at the ballot box.

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2 Responses to A Conservative Workers Party?

  1. the Conservatives should wonder why a re-branding exercise is necessary at all

    Well perhaps they fear that after September’s referendum the “Unionist” bit of their full title may look a little superfluous?

    Labour’s nicked “One Nation”, UKIP have nicked “Love Britain” (from the BNP – possibly unwittingly, or possibly they have some sympathisers “in the back rooms” who thought it might be a jolly jape), so why shouldn’t the Cons nick “The Worker’s Party”?

  2. Labour can reasonably claim to be a “one-nation” party (having significant representation in England, Scotland and Wales.

    I’d argue that UKIP can reasonably claim to be the BNP in blazers.

    I’m not sure where the Conservatives get the evidence to claim they are a worker’s party, when they opposed the minimum wage, hiked the regressive VAT, and favour no-fault dismissal.

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