Thursday, 9 May 2013

Whatever you do, don't mention the word 'class'

This morning, I had a go at setting out some of the strange experience it has been writing on class.  You can read it on Lib Dem Voice:

There was I trying to weave a new political narrative that could potentially unite most classes behind it, and the interest and support has been wonderful - but the abuse has been extraordinary too.  I got 750 comments on my Comment is Free article for the Guardian earlier in the week, some of them supportive, some of them downright insane.

Part of the problem seems to me that any mention of class on a book cover seems to absolve some people from reading the book before coming to a conclusion about it.  I have heard from people from every part of the political spectrum - some of whom fundamentally disagree with the thesis that we are heading to a controlled and struggling proletarian society, controlled by a powerful mega-wealthy elite at the top.  Some of whom agree, but don't mind as long as the middle classes get wiped out.  Some of them, well, don't let's go there...

The real issue is why the mainstream political parties no longer represent the middle classes - we already know they don't represent the working classes.  The coalition got the rhetoric right back in 2010 with the ambition to 're-balance' the economy, but seem unable to find any effective levers they can agree on to do so.

Mainstream policy still seems to be designed to recreate the conditions of the last bubble, and to allow the very wealthy to hoover up even more money - apparently on the grounds that the City pays quite a lot of tax (a recipe for increasing inertia and dependence).

The ineffective banking oligopoly still rides high.  There is still no community banking infrastructure as other countries have.  Local government has been set free by the Localism Act and other measures, but many of their leaders are still waiting hopefully to be bailed out by central government or external investors - rather than acting to make their local economies work.

It is all very frustrating.  And into the middle of this spins a populist force, with no apparent interest in the economy - but riding the frustrations caused by its failure - and encouraging the mainstream politicians to look elsewhere at our fraught relationship with Europe as the source of all solutions.

"So stupid in politics," said George Bernard Shaw of the middle classes.  But imagine they did grasp how they are being priced out by the elite, and decided to act politically - to hammer out a series of policies that genuinely promised a sustainable income and a roof over the head for the next generation.

What would happen then?

1 comment:

Peter de Loriol chandieu said...

Agreed, but then it is merely a repetition of previous generational thoughts