Monday, December 07, 2009

The Monday morning blog: the pitfalls of class warfare

The Brown fightback was evident last week when the Prime Minister used PMQs to attack David Cameron's privileged background. Whilst Cameron was clearly stung by the attack, and Labour MPs were energised by the comment that the Tories' inheritance tax policy was invented on "the playingfields of Eton" (paraphrasing the words of the Duke of Wellington if my history serves me correctly) the question needs to be asked, is this an effective attack or just something that turns on Labour MPs?

The "Tory Toff" gibe was a disaster for Labour in the Crewe byelection last years. And Labour showed their own hypocrisy when they made the attack. After all, there are plenty of toffs in their ranks. Just look at the Lady Harriet. Ordinary members of the public are not interested in fighting the class war. Labour realised that in the 90s, especially under Blair, and abandoned this millstone around their necks. They should return to it only after very careful consideration.

They should remember that what motivates their own activists is not necessarily what motivates the people. If Labour's only message is an anti-toff one, they will look desparate and out of ideas. But, it may not be entirely all bad for Labour. It depends on how they handle the issue.

As part of an armoury of weapons against the Tories, an attack on them for defending the privileged and rich during a period of financial turmoil and cuts, when everyone needs to be seen to be paying their fair share towards the cost of recovery, could be a very strong message against Cameron. The Tory inheritance tax plan, initially seen as a positive for the Tories, is now a millstone. It is too easily seen as a handout for the rich and understandably, Labour will use it ruthlessly to portray the Tories as the party of the rich (despite Labour having been the friend of the rich since 1997).

But Labour needs to tread carefully. If the language used to attack Cameron chimes only with their own activists, they will lose more votes. But if they successfully paint the Cameron Conservatives as defenders of the few against the many, they may be able to salvage something from the disaster of the past few years. Time will tell.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is extremely interesting for me to read the article. Thanks for it. I like such themes and anything connected to them. BTW, try to add some pics :).