Class is a way of describing the hierarchy of society. Where you fit on the social class ladder affects your opportunities in life, because it determines your social, cultural, and financial resources.
Many either talk about it in real terms or deny its existence, but the fact is the working class communities were broken up by Thatcher but previous efforts of others prior to Thatcher that led to hunger marches 1923-36 also echo as loud today as they did then. . The class system has always been around and depending on the definition used, it changed politics and utterly devastated the communities who worked and were just able to sell their labour for a price and keep their heads above water. In Modern Politics it is used less and less.
The workplace has changed in the UK many industrial and manufacturing processes are now lost, and more and more people work in the public sector, in offices, IT, and other service areas with a few exceptions such as the Construction/Steel industry, where hard manual labour is still happening just about.
Research suggests that working-class people place a higher value on the good of the group, whether that is the family, co-workers, or the neighborhood, than middle-class people do. Working-class culture focuses on everyday life, while middle-class or professional-class families tend to focus on individual advancement. No definition can adequately capture the complexity and diversity of the working class is today. But regardless of the nuances, working-class people have some things in common – strong commitment to family and community, economic vulnerability, a solid work ethic, occupational health risks, negative cultural stereotypes, limited access to education.
Parts of the United Kingdom have disappeared from public view over the past 30 years, and been erased from social memory. The coal mining communities in the North, in the Midlands and in Kent, that once roared in their fights for the dignity of the working class are now silent, long forgotten.Political, economic, and institutional power has moved away from the docks, the mines, and the shipyards and found a new home in London, with the financial and political action. As a consequence, vast parts of the country are now deemed uninteresting; they’ve been left unfunded, unheard and uncared for by politicians, the media, and business. Their voices were raised in June 2016, though, when many of these communities voted to leave the European Union. That made people takes notice.
But they were still misunderstood. Many would have you believe these communities voted for Brexit because they are stupid, ignorant or racist. In fact, they voted Leave because the system simply doesn’t work for them anymore. They understand that they are dispensable to our ‘economy’ and they resent the fact that ever since the manufacturing industries went and the large warehouses arrived, they have been exploited and left with zero-hour contracts, low wages, and poor quality jobs with little chance of moving on to something better. Being working class isn’t an identity I wear in order to get funding, or a free place at a seminar, my type of working class doesn’t get these things anyway, my type of working class has come through experience and a history that has been passed down to me by generations, my values, how I see and think about the world is knowledge that has been shared with me by mother, by her mother, by her mother and her mother before her, my dad, my granddad and so on, by Mrs Bell my next door neighbour who looked after me when I was a child and her collective knowledge, being working class to me is about power, history, and experience. Being working class is about the relationship a group of people have with other groups of people, looking at each other and seeing that pain, but in turn having others look at you as ‘other’ and not one of them. This collective knowledge isn’t about nostalgia, and the past, it’s about the past the present and the future, a pain I inherited and a pain I have passed on. Working class people are hurt from the day they are born, even before they are born, questions are asked about our inception, about our family’s abilities, and the moral fibre of what we may become the minute our eyes are open. If class isn’t political its nothing. Says working class academic Lisa Mackenzie.
One thing for sure is the Labour movement was built on the collective movement of the people and we should never forget that, or we will surely pay the price at the ballot box. Today we have swathes of working class people forgotten and left behind, disenfranchised who have been abandoned and it is down to us to reunite them with the Labour Party and it values.
We are part of huge political turmoil with Brexit where Corbyn’s ‘For the Many not the Few ‘ring out loudly but not loud enough to engage those who feel they don’t have a voice or are not listened too. When I talk to those who feel silenced I hear ‘politicians don’t care about me and mine’. We need to listen, feel their pain in Austerity Britain of the 99%, where those in work are struggling and having to ask the state for a helping hand because they are not paid a living wage, while the 1% whose wealth has tripled ignores the many . We need to be rebuilding those communities at the core of Corbyn’s ideas to rejuvenate that collective to stop the rise of the far right narrative poisoning of minds of the future generations. It would be a dereliction of duty not to do so as a socialist movement.