I found the ‘Ayes to the Left’ podcast discussing with Claire Ainsley her new book, “The New Working Class: Winning Hearts, Minds and Votes”, hugely interesting – see https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/ayes-left-podcast-class-matters-12468277 (c. 31 minutes). I strongly recommend it.
For me, Claire helps explain why (based on evidence and data) that when I was talking to Leave voters in 2016 and since, I discovered that, if you can get past headline Leave Campaign lies like “Take Back Control”, “Our country is already full”, “£350 million a week extra for the NHS”, “They need us more than we need them”, “We can have our cake and eat it”, etc and move on to discuss what pressing issues they personally are experiencing in their own lives, they will generally mention, roughly in the following order:
(1) Low and precarious wages.
(2) Access to affordable housing.
(3) Access to public services, notably: healthcare; social care; education and skills training; policing to address crime, anti-social behaviour, illegal gangmasters, modern slavery; etc, etc.
. . . all of which they’ve been persuaded (by our anti-EU, popular press, UKIP and the extreme right-wing of the Conservative Party) to blame on immigration and EU membership – even though their fundamental, pressing problems need to be blamed on incompetence and ineptitude in Westminster, not Brussels.
Interestingly, in all my conversations with Leavers to date, the most pressing problems they quote are never immigration itself. Even those people who tell me “Spalding has been turned from a nice market town into a slum by migrant workers from the EU” still don’t see this as one of the most pressing issues facing them and their families personally.
Having listened to this podcast today, loads of thoughts are now buzzing round my head. At the moment, what I’m thinking is that those of us who can see exciting benefits of remaining in the EU, need to work together to:
• Communicate to the new working class that we fully understand why they voted Leave.
• Explain to them that exiting the EU cannot conceivably help them with their own pressing problems in any conceivable way, whereas their lives will demonstrably be significantly better off if we remain in the EU.
• If they support a People’s Vote and vote to remain in the EU, WE WON’T LET THEM DOWN – as they’ve been let down so many times in the past. On the contrary, we will remain as a united campaigning force to make things better for them in future.
I sincerely hope Remainers, across all Parties, can come together to make Britain great again by improving the lives of the new working class without thought to party-political advantage.
Any thoughts, anyone?
Author: Alan Meekings
Alan Meekings is a management consultant specialising in the field of Organisational Performance Management. He has led programmes of major change and sustainable improvement with public, private and third sector organisations for over thirty years. He is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University School of Management, a Visiting Scholar at Heriot-Watt University School of Management and a member of the European Movement nationally and in Lincolnshire.
All views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Conservative Group for Europe or the European Movement.