The Conservative Party's Patronising Play for the Votes of 'Real' Working Class People
Gerhard Schnyder argues that the Government's idea of what 'real people' think is the ultimate insult to the working class.
Being ‘out of touch’ has become a universal insult in British politics in recent years. Out of touch, that is, with the ‘real people’ in our country, which apparently would mean working-class people from outside the large urban centres and university towns who are active in manual blue-collar, rather than white-collar, jobs.
The latest public spat about being ‘out of touch’ was sparked off by Prime Minister Sunak being filmed using a hammer sideways. This prompted the Labour Party to post a video excerpt with the caption ‘not the son of a toolmaker’ in reference to Keir Starmer – omitting, however, that the clip also made it clear that the PM had been instructed to use the hammer that way.
The episode reminds one of Monty Python’s ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ sketch where four evidently wealthy men are outdoing one another telling stories of just how deprived their origins were. It would seem that in British politics, only those who had to drink a cup of ‘sulphuric acid’ – instead of tea – for breakfast and ‘work twenty-nine hours a day’ (Eric Idle’s words) can truly claim to speak for the ‘real people.’ Everyone else is ‘out of touch.’
That is where Lee Anderson comes in for the Conservative Party. Its Deputy Chairman lays claim to be true salt of the earth working class; having a coal miner as a dad and having worked in a coal mine for ten years himself.
That background seemingly confers upon him a ‘connectedness’ with the spirit of British people that almost magically transforms his every opinion into what the ‘real people’ in this country actually think and want – most recently that the British government should break the law to deport people to Rwanda despite a Supreme Court judgement ruling that plan unlawful.
The paradox with Anderson being portrayed as the unchallengeable spokesperson of the working class is that his views say a lot more about what politicians who ‘are out of touch’ think working-class people are like, rather than what they really are like.
As such, using Lee Anderson as the representative of the ‘real Britain’ and spokesperson of the working class is the ultimate insult of working-class people.