What is the point of the Labour party? Ctd

We continue the series about what is the point of the Labour party using as a source for our discussion an article from The Telegraph talking about labour in the UK.

The issues are eerily the same for both parties. Today we look at who potential Labour voters are now?

Who are the potential Labour voters now? We know some things for sure. The old hereditary heartland support ? what used to be called the respectable working class ? has fragmented and effectively disappeared. Much of it became aspirational in the?New Labour sense: property-owning, car-driving, computer-using and, for all intents and purposes, middle class even if it was not professional by qualification or conditions of employment. These ex-working class voters were the ones who defected to the Tories in the 1980s and whom New Labour was designed to win back. (In the United States, such people are always referred to as middle class meaning ?ordinary working people?, which leads to some confusion in Britain. When American politicians advocate ?middle-class tax cuts?, they do not mean reducing taxes for the higher paid.) The repudiation of Blairism by Labour?s current leadership puts the party in a hopelessly unclear relationship to this hugely important constituency. Mr Miliband talking about the ?squeezed middle? does not help: he defines this as the lowest end of what could conceivably be called ?middle income? and makes it clear that anyone escaping that narrow range deserves no sympathy. What signal, as they say, does this send to the truly ?aspirational? who were once happy to vote New Labour?

Then there are those who were left behind in the old communities which the more affluent had fled. They became an underclass for whom welfare-dependency replaced work as a way of life. Sometimes called ?the disadvantaged? or ?the deprived?, these were (or might have been in earlier generations) Labour supporters. But as often as not now they vote for no one, believing that they have little stake in the political process.

So the party may appeal to the country on their behalf but there is little to be gained (in the callous electoral sense) from soliciting active support from them directly. To make ?fighting poverty? (or even the more unexceptionable ?eliminating child poverty?) Labour?s raison d?etre would be a formula for attracting middle-class intellectuals but not a solution to the problem of reconstructing a natural constituency which trusted Labour to speak for its interests.

Phil Goff has borrowed “the squeezed middle” from Ed Miliband, and it appears that it resonates about as much as it does for Miliband. Basically like the UK, Labour in New Zealand has isolated themselves to the indigent, the ne’er-do-wells and the middle-class intellectuals with a smattering of wedge groups like gays. No wonder they are polling at 25%.