First we saw New Labour attack rich “Tory boys” in the Crewe & Nantwich by-election. Then they rushed to drop the issue as soon as the press howled at them for stirring up “class war”.
This cackhandedness is the sign of a party in panic, thrashing around for anything to help save itself. But it is also a sign of hypocrisy.
For years New Labour denied there is a class divide in this country. It claimed the vast majority of people were now “middle class”, with only a residual “underclass” living in poverty.
Today no mainstream political party dares address a simple fact – the class divide has not gone away, it has grown greater. And contrary to the “classless society” hype, the great majority of people in Britain are working class – whether they work for a living, study to work, or are retired from work.
In education, working class children are already at a disadvantage before they start school. In housing, working class people are being increasingly driven out of city centres by the lack of any affordable places to live.
All this has fuelled a growing sense of class and class anger in Gordon Brown’s Britain. This was highlighted by the 10p tax band fiasco and strikes against the public sector pay limit.
There is also a growing sense that working class people have been on the receiving end for three decades now – first at the hands of the Tories and then New Labour.
This is not just a question of “them and us”.It reflects a growing political rejection of the free market policies that fuel inequality. Working class people want a voice that genuinely stands up for them and stands up for their class.