The Labor Party in the UK seems to have the same demographic as the Democratic Party in the United States, they are seen as being “snobby” and offering nothing to lower-middle class especially white, lower-middle class voters.
There was a by-election for Parliament yesterday and the far-right and populist United Kingdom Independence Party won their second seat in Parliament.
The by-election also caused a Labor MP to lose her seat in the Labor Shadow Cabinet because she tweeted a picture of a house in the by-election district. The picture showed a house covered in the English Flag (the Flag of St. George) with a white van parked in front. These are symbols of the white, lower-middle class voters that are allegedly repelled by Labor and moving quickly to the UKIP.
The Guardian tried to explain the scandal to non-Brits but it is still very confusing. Andrew Sullivan compared the incident to Obama’s “clinging to their guns and religion” comment from 2008 but the British incident is working on a lot more code. The offensive tweet merely said “image from #Rochester.” This seems like the kind of umbrage that requires people going out of there way to be angry. The only thing that helps me understand it is that the English Flag is considered partially like the Confederate Flag and has been used to express anti-immigrant sentiment.
At this point, I need to wonder whether the Democratic Party and UK Labor Party should just abandon courting white, lower-middle class voters and focus on the newer coalition of women, minorities, professionals and the young. I think it is rather silly to keep trying to woe a group that is predisposed to voting against you. 64 percent of white men voted against the Democratic Party in 2014. This is probably just as much about social liberalism and cultural politics as it is about economics.
I admit that I find it very fascinating but also perplexing that the centre-left parties across the world are often easily tarred with being snobby and elitist. The snobby accusation has been going on for my entire life if not longer. A similar dynamic also happens in Israel where the Israeli Labor party is seen as being the part of the old Ashkenazi elite and Likkud and the other right-wing parties represent newer and often non-European Israelis. My political biases and preferences make it hard to see why supporting urbanism, environmentalism same-sex marriage and other social liberal policies aimed at increasing inclusion, and a more robust welfare state are snobby. I do admit that the hardest political balancing act might be between creating worker-friendly policies and policies that help small business people. I have yet to hear a convincing argument that it is a better policy, more moral, and more ethical to support small business over the rights and concerns of workers.
Image: Wikimedia Commons.
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