Is the Labour Party Having an Identity Crisis?

How do we as a party adapt to being the third-most popular party amongst working class voters?

How do we as a party adapt to being the third-most popular party amongst working class voters?

 According to a recent YouGov poll, the Labour Party is now the third choice amongst working class voters. The question now, is where do we go from here? 

We need to be taking this seriously. The Labour Party; my party, was originally created to represent working people. This is still a fundamental if not the fundamental basis of our party, so where are we going wrong? 

UKIP, the party that has overtaken Labour, is no longer a fringe party. It’s a far-right, populist party supporting the interests of big business. All of these things should contradict what would be best for working people, but yet according to YouGov, working class voters would rather choose them than Labour? 

The 1980’s brought a general consensus of Neo-Liberalism. Looking towards the late 90’s and 2000’s, we moved forward into an era of European Social Democracy. Today however, we face an age of right-wing populism. This surge in UKIP popularity amongst working people is clearly a sign of frustration, in which we are not appearing to represent working interests.

With Brexit, it’s now common knowledge that the majority of traditional working class voted to leave the European Union. They were lied to.

 The fact is however, we can’t just ignore that immigration is a red-hot issue in Britain. As Labour, we mustn't look down our noses at those who are genuinely concerned with immigration. That would be lazy and snobbish. We need to take the initiative and understand why this view exists and then change it. 

Back in 2015, Andy Burnham stated that Labour activists have to stop, “avoiding people’s eyes, shuffling uncomfortably and trying to get away” whenever the topic of immigration comes up. A lot of people saw this comment and thought that we needed to converge more towards UKIP’s immigration stance. As a party, I agree that we need to deliver a message that is crystal clear on immigration.

And here it is:

The Labour Party is a forward thinking, progressive, pro-immigration party and these core values should never be compromised. We are a party that needs to advertise immigration shamelessly in a way that is irrefutably positive. The worst thing we could do is imply in any way that immigration = bad. We have to stick to our guns. 

You can’t tell the electorate that they’re wrong; what we must do is lead the way with a truly compelling argument explaining that in fact immigration and cooperation serves to bring incredibly hard-working people into this country, of whom want to amalgamate into society and help keep our beloved core institutions such as the NHS running. 

If we do this, maybe we can get back the core vote that we are losing.

We should never, ever, be ashamed to be pro-immigration; but we need to put the work in as activists to get back what are rightfully our working class votes.

The news that we’re third amongst working class voters shouldn’t make us feel upset or down, it should mobilise us into fighting to prove the positive, progressive case for immigration and why working people should continue to support what is truly their party.

Working people deserve more than they’re getting at the minute. As a Labour member and activist, watching the utter shambles that this government has created is more than hard to digest. Social Care is in crisis with the NHS being criminally underfunded, homelessness is still a major problem even though it is now 2017, and Brexit is still unclear; just to name a few problems.

Identity crisis, what identity crisis? Let’s get out there and change these problems that British people face today. Let’s be unashamedly positive and show how a more caring and compassionate society is better than that of an insular, regressive society.

More than anything; let’s be the champion for working people once again. 


Tom Butler is a Young Fabian member and Acting Chair of Rotherham Young Labour. Follow him on Twitter at @tombutler97

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