Members of a Labour Party branch in north London want to create a special grouping within Labour for working-class people in order to help the party form a national government.
An invitation to join the project circulated before the Crouch End ward’s regular branch meeting scheduled for tomorrow (4 February) says that although “the middle-classes come across as very nice people” they “don’t seem to realise they often have a condescending attitude towards us [working-class people], talking to us as if we are children”.
The author or authors of the proposal, seen by On London, say the first half of the larger Hornsey & Wood Green constituency level (CLP) meetings should be “conducted in the style of small awareness-raising group workshops” because “from our experience, we believe working-class people find this kind of informality much more interesting, although we feel it could be a bit threatening for the middle-classes”.
The invitation, which appears at the foot of a draft agenda for the meeting and is headed “text agreed to be circulated to members”, argues that a fall in support for Labour among working-class voters has occurred because “the Tories and their cronies have exploited our working-class language in the right-wing, vote-rigging tabloid press to deliberately poison our thinking and to manipulate the way we vote” and because “the idealism of Labour has attracted many millions of the more middle-class and professional people”.
While allowing that such individuals are “paramount for Labour’s infrastructure” and acknowledging their “easy-going confidence and verbal skills (although often verging on waffle),” the proposal says that “because of their influence we believe our election leaflets are middle-class and [we] feel them to be boring to working-class people”, when a more “straight-talking” and “tabloid-style way” of explaining Labour policies would be more effective.
It contends that middle-class members “seem to look up to and identify more with the rich” and that “working-class skills are just as important to the Labour Party, such as common sense, discernment and the guts to challenge mega-rich tax cheats and crooks with offshore funds, along with bent bankers, solicitors and estate agents who handle their dirty money”.
A potentially “revolutionary” mechanism for “the pooling of ideas between these two very different cultures” would involve one half of CLP meetings comprising “coming together” sessions to produce ideas which would be jointly written up “by one working-class and one middle-class member working together at local and executive level”. It is suggested that this “transforming idea of ‘joint roles’ could become a new ruling for all official rules within Labour”.
The proposal does not set out how the different social class designations would be defined, but it maintains that the approach it advocates would bring people together and “surely attract back the working-classes and with it, election success”. It claims the “vision of sharing roles and the use of awareness-raising techniques has its roots in a 3,500-year-old idea described in Exodus 18 as ‘metric-democracy'”. It adds: “We would like to see a Labour working-class section similar to the women’s section, with an exhibition space and training workshops at both local and national conference”.
Labour suffered a setback in Crouch End ward at the last borough elections, held in May 2018, when all three of its council seats were won by Liberal Democrats, having previously all been Labour. The sitting councillors for the ward had been replaced before the elections by Labour candidates supported by the Jeremy Corbyn-backing organisation Momentum as part of a wider campaign to de-select councillors not to its liking.
Labour lost seven Haringey’s council seats altogether (six compared with the previous election in 2014), the party’s worst seats outcome in all 32 boroughs on a night of overall gains, though it retained a council majority of 27. Under new Labour leadership, the Haringey cabinet has since lost two members to sackings (though one of them has since been elected deputy leader and restored) and another two to resignations, one of which followed a drugs conviction. Hornsey & Wood Green Labour MP Catherine West comfortably retained her seat in December’s general election, albeit with a reduced majority.
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