Saturday 20 September 2008

Jon Cruddas: New Labour made false assumption that working-class would wither away

Speaking at the opening Fabian Society and TUC fringe, Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas said:

“I welcome this discussion about class. We haven’t talked enough about class over the last decade or more. But I have a worry about a balkanisation of the working-class based on colour: that there is a white working-class tribe”, said Cruddas.

“One of the hallmarks of New Labour was the assumption that the working-class itself was withering away”, said Cruddas,

“There was an ideology within New Labour – in the work of Charlie Leadbeater and so on - which has brought diminishing returns politically: that there would be no working-class: technological change would mean the end of unskilled work".

There were still 9 million manual workers. Though there had been qualitative shifts to a service economy, “the working-class still exists and it is a political constituency which we ignore at our peril”, said Cruddas.

Cruddas said there was a ‘quite profound disenchatnment with Labour' creating the risk of "inequalities becoming racialised around a competition for scarce resources, such as housing, because class has disappeared from discourse, which is dangerous especially in an economic downturn”

"The electoral system [and targeting of swing votes] disenfranchises elements who were part of the Labour coalition, said Cruddas.

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