The working class is rather conservative you know

This is interesting. The French are finding out what Labour is about to find out:

“The economic crisis, unemployment, social problems, globalisation make people afraid, but if it was just about economics we would see these people voting for the radical left, which they are not,” Bouvet told the Observer.

Bouvet is a political science professor and member of the leftwing thinktank the Jean Jaurès Foundation, which advises the Socialist party (PS) and aims to “promote the study of workers’ movements and international socialism and promote democratic and humanist ideas”. He says his latest, decidedly politically incorrect, message is one the left does not want to hear.

Bouvet says PC blinkers have prevented the Socialists from addressing working-class anxieties about immigration and the rise of Islam – even in its moderate form – in areas where the so-called Français de souche (born-and-bred French) find themselves outnumbered by those with a different religion and cultural habits. Branded les petits blancs (white trash), and accused of racism or patronised if they express their fears, they have turned en masse to the FN, he says.

“With no political offer from the left, working-class French people feel they have been abandoned economically, socially and culturally. The FN has stepped into the breach: it says to these people: ‘you are the most important and we will fight for you’.

This is not to say that I support FN of course. Rather, the point is that the working classes (in both countries) are really quite conservative. Much, much, more so than the urban intelligentsia that runs the nominally left wing parties in each country. And sometimes this doesn’t matter: as long as that intelligentsia pushes the economic policies that those workers think good then they’ll not worry too much about all the PC stuff. But that’s a licence that only extends so far. If the intelligentsia seems (to take an entirely absurd possible example) to be spending all its efforts on deciding whether a trannie should piss standing up or sitting down, in the Gents or the Ladies, then that licence isn’t going to be extended.

The heart of this is that I think Bouvet is at least partially correct. That urban intelligentsia has lost contact with what its voting base actually thinks and cares about. It takes time to overcome the inertia but it does eventually happen.

24 thoughts on “The working class is rather conservative you know”

  1. In shocking news, it seems the concerns of Oxbridge PPE graduates living in Islington aren’t the same as an electrician from Essex.

    And the left wonder why people vote UKIP?

  2. So Much for Subtlety

    French intellectuals have shared their hatred of the West with the intellectuals of most other countries. They have tried to swamp France with migrants just as other Western intellectuals have done with their own countries. Oddly enough if you hate people enough, eventually they realise it.

    It is too late for France of course. It will soon be the richer counter-part of Lebanon before becoming the equally poor counter-part of Algeria.

  3. With no political offer from the left, working-class French people feel they have been abandoned economically, socially and culturally.

    They feel? That’s because they have. At least the French have figured out who betrayed them, whereas their dumbfuck counterparts in the UK are still blaming Thatcher and giving Labour a free pass.

  4. I’m not sure about Tim’s claim that the dividing line in Britain is between the working class and the rest. It can well be argued that the dividing line is between a small clique of self appointed pseudo sophisticates who write for left of centre publications (Guardian, New Statesman, Independent, etc) and EVERYONE ELSE.

    You can see that divide in the comments after pro-immigration articles in the above publications. That is, journalists working for the above publications stick ridgidly to the PC line that we are enormously “enriched” by a culture straight out of the 13th century, i.e. Islam. In contrast, in the comments section, those journalists often get a thrashing. And the thrashing DOES NOT come from the “working class” because the working class does not read the New Statesman, Independent.

  5. The Labour party in the UK is the party of the middle class State employee these days, and draws its beliefs and values from those type of people. The working classes still vote for it, not having realised that the ‘Party of the working man’ has become the ‘Party of the female sociology graduate working for the council or a quango’. One day those working voters will realise whats happened – that event just happened in Scotland. The Labour vote has suddenly realised that Labour in Scotland is diametrically opposed to its desires and will work to thwart them at all costs. And that vote has upped sticks to the SNP.

    The same could easily happen on the UK. UKIP have started out as a small c conservative Right wing outfit, they could easily end up as a small c conservative Left wing outfit. In fact I’d say that transformation is already underway. The working class vote is ripe for the picking. Offer the current UKIP mix of anti-europe, anti-immigration, anti-PC stuff, add in a a bit of ‘soak the rich’ anti-globalisation, pro-public spending on ‘our NHS’ stuff, and you’d piss large swathes of the North. There’s a far greater reward competing with Labour in the North than the Tories in the South. Far more rotten boroughs to be plucked.

  6. sackcloth and ashes

    Anyone familiar with Labour history – at least up until the 1980s – would realise that with the alliance between blue collar trade unionists and the intelligentsia it was the former (e.g. Ernest Bevin, George Brown, James Callaghan) that tended to be more conservative-minded than the latter.

  7. Jim

    “The same could easily happen on the UK. UKIP have started out as a small c conservative Right wing outfit, they could easily end up as a small c conservative Left wing outfit.”

    The great split in this country today isn’t so much about rich and poor, it’s about parasite vs worker. You can find a lot of agreement between software developers and machine operators that the diversity industry should be shut down, and that people living on the dole shouldn’t be. There’s no reason you can’t create a party that unifies those people.

    (ask your average security guard what they think of the long-term unemployed – it’s fierce).

  8. “The great split in this country today isn’t so much about rich and poor, it’s about parasite vs worker”

    But only if you define ‘worker’ as someone who gets paid for doing a job that someone whose wages people would part money with for. This can include some State employees (binmen, some teachers, nurses, firemen etc) and not huge swathes of other State ‘workers’, and the large parasitic Third Sector or quangos and charities.

    The divide is between the productive (either in the public or private sectors) and the non productive (mainly in the public sector, plus the benefit classes). But as the public sector includes the productive AND the non productive, its difficult to make simple political argument that reassures the productive their State jobs are OK, while the non productive are out on their ear.

    Thus while it would be nice to have a party that represented the productive, wherever they were located, it more likely to be a pro-state sector, anti benefit claimant, small c conservative one that emerges, because thats the easiest sell to the left of centre voter working class voter.

  9. “the working classes (in both countries) are really quite conservative”: and also quite thick. So for decade after decade they have voted for socialists who despise them, and piss on them from a great height. Their reasons are, I suppose, a mixture of resentments, ignorance, and tribalism. I don’t remember much about my childhood, but I do remember one friend saying “Mum says we’ve got to vote Labour cos Dad’s a labourer.” I also remember a girl saying that it wasn’t fair, rich people got to phone people up free. No coin box, you see. Hopeless, utterly bloody hopeless.

  10. If the intelligentsia seems (to take an entirely absurd possible example) to be spending all its efforts on deciding whether a trannie should piss standing up or sitting down, in the Gents or the Ladies

    Actually it’s the right-wing loons in America that are spending their efforts on that. The intelligentsia’s reaction is “huh? What’s the big fuss about?”

  11. The proposition of socialism in France since St Simon is that the workers exist as the raw material for the manufacture of an efficient and productive state.. The workers were never instigators of this project (excepting Proudhon) and never consulted. Their votes were necessary to socialist politicians but their recalcitrant social conservatism made them smell bad and they have been long abandoned by modern socialists seeking other power bases.

  12. So Much for Subtlety

    Matthew L – “Actually it’s the right-wing loons in America that are spending their efforts on that. The intelligentsia’s reaction is “huh? What’s the big fuss about?””

    When they are not trying to get J. Michael Bailey fired and jailed. When they are not censoring people for using the biologically correct pronoun. When they are not providing special housing for the LGBTQERFFDSRTGD community.

    The Left is utterly obsessed with a tiny minority of sexual practices. The Right isn’t.

  13. A senior Australian Labor party figure described the trajectory of the Labor party in Australia as having moved from “being run by the cream of the working class, to being run by the dregs of the middle class” – and of course losing much of its support from the working class as a conseqence.

    At least in Australia some Labor figures has realised what the problem is. The dregs who occupy the Guardian, Independent, etc still seem confused and disconcerted about what is going on.

  14. Labour in the UK are the party of the welfare class, including vast swathes of the public sector who would be lucky to get a job pouring coffee in the real world. They only care about the actual workers when they need their votes.

  15. @jim

    “There’s a far greater reward competing with Labour in the North than the Tories in the South. Far more rotten boroughs to be plucked.” – you may well be correct, good point.

    UKIP’s anti-EU stance however, is probably a minority view across British society. Many otherwise sensible bloggers here will disagree with me, but that does not make them right, nor do their combined many excellent posts on many subjects.

  16. As the ever -excellent Jim points out – the divide is between the productive and the non-productive. Interestingly, the Left likes to point out that there are a number of ‘non-productive’ people within the Private sector as well, although these jobs usually exist in relation to recent employment law, especially as regards dealing with legislation pertaining to favored ‘minorities’.

    It’s important to realize that the ‘working class’ per se (especially those in the Private Sector) is not one of the three groups upon which Labour depends for a majority – it calculates that, especially in the North West, Scotland and the North East hatred of the Conservatives is such it can rely on theses votes whilst supporting policies that actively disadvantage working class voters.

    It’s core constituency comprises: The unemployed/benefit claimants, People in the non-productive public sector, and immigrants/second generation Britons, many of whose influence is increased substantially by means of managed fraud through postal voting. This is why the migration to UKIP in the North West and North East has got a few furrowed brows amidst Senior Labour strategists…..

  17. “UKIP’s destiny is to become a nationalist and socialist party.”

    As opposed to BlueLabour Theo who are international socialists.

    “UKIP’s anti-EU stance however, is probably a minority view across British society. Many otherwise sensible bloggers here will disagree with me, but that does not make them right, nor do their combined many excellent posts on many subjects”

    Which is of course why every possible or imaginable liar on the planet is wheeled out to tell the public that euuuuwwww exit=instant death and Armageddon. You move in the wrong circles.

  18. “UKIP’s anti-EU stance however, is probably a minority view across British society.”

    Is it though? Maybe in the south, and in the middle classes, and in the chattering classes it is a minority view – among the working classes who have to live and work and use government services alongside all those immigrants, many of whom are from the EU, anti-immigration and anti-EU views go hand in hand. Its nothing to do with democracy or sovereignty, its everything to do with your neighbourhood changing its culture over night, with the jobs all going to foreigners, and the (perceived) idea that nothing can be done about it ‘Because of the EU’.

  19. Jim
    March 22, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Best and most succinct explanation I’ve heard.
    I’m pinching it – thanks.

  20. Hang on, why says the FN are not radical left? Their economic policies, according to the interviews I as on Peston’s programme about Freench politics last week, are anti-globalisation, anti-austerity, generous benefits, lots of state employees. Where doe sright-wing come into it?

  21. Where doe sright-wing come into it?

    Same way as the BNP are called “right wing”

    Same way as Trotsky was denounced as “right wing”

    It was Stalin’s favourite insult, hence guardianistas and BBC types continuing the tradition.

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