The Metro-Left's Problem With The Working Class

23/09/2016 12:01

Why do the working classes go against their own interests by voting for [insert right-of-centre party]?

This question is asked repeatedly in different places, but always by the same left-leaning demographic- the boxed-in, metropolitan mob. Why would poor Americans vote Republican? Why have working class British communities turned away from Labour in favour of Ukip? What drives a working class Tory?

Often these mysteries are posed with a mixture of pity and maudlin bewilderment. Sometimes I detect that the questioner might be about to cry a bit and is going to suggest getting Billy Bragg and Jack Monroe to tour sink estates with an acoustic guitar.

What's strange is that although the question directly indicates that the speaker doesn't understand something, the implication is always that it's working class people that are the ignorant ones. And yet the working classes know their minds very well, and don't waste time tying themselves in knots over why their opponents did something they don't like.

It's incredible that there is still any confusion anyway, when in Britain a significant number of Ukip voters have expressed clearly why they chose that party- it's because they think there's too much unrestricted immigration and it's driving down working conditions, while also diluting cultural identity.
The party that supported workers previously, Labour, has been dismissive on immigration, while Ukip is strongly anti-immigration. Ukip has its share of odious qualities, but when did anyone ever vote for any party without holding their noses? On this issue people are voting for a party which directly addresses their concerns, whether you happen to agree with them or not. You don't like the party that's doing that? Neither do I, and neither, quite possibly, do many of those who vote for them, but until recently Ukip had been the only party to talk seriously about immigration. Tell the Greens to come out with a hard policy on restricting unskilled migration, and then they might pick up ground on the council estates.

Let's be clear about another thing too - there's more to voting than just choosing which party promises to benefit you the most financially. Besides the fact that left-wing governments aren't widely perceived as being economically responsible anyway, right-wing, conservative parties have at their hearts particular values- self-determination, personal responsibility, smaller government, patriotism. If these virtues resonate with you and you consider them to be worth fighting for, then voting for a party that enshrines them isn't voting against your own interests.

It's revealing that the bubble-wrapped middle classes will ascribe high rates of crime on inner-city estates to bad government policy. But many of the people who live on those estates, while fully aware of the problems caused by bad governance, will blame a crime on the person who did it. If they see it as a case of personal responsibility- the criminal chose to do the crime- then it makes sense to vote for a party that also frames the problem in that way.

Working class people in England are sneered at and denigrated for doing things like adorning their cars and houses with the Cross of St George during football tournaments. But why? Again, it's only a particular subset of the country which has a problem with open displays of patriotism- that's right, it's the hand-wringing metro-left again. Some of the same people, by the way, who were pictured draped in EU flags during their confused protests after the referendum. And how telling is that? That they will wrap themselves in the flag of an undemocratic, supra-national, political bureaucracy, but will simultaneously see no hypocrisy in denigrating football supporters for displaying the flag of the country in which they were born.

Finally, there are those voters who have simply weighed up the situation as it stands, and decided that any change is better than no change. Are all of the Ukip converts and the Trump supporters opting for those choices because they blindly love everything the candidates represent? Of course they aren't, no more than metropolitan Labour supporters think Iraq was a good idea. But when the status quo isn't doing you any favours, why would you vote for more of the same?