What exactly does Ed Miliband think it means to be a ‘working person’?

There is no one type of ‘working person', and it’s an indictment of our politics that such an obvious point has to be made.

There is no one type of ‘working person’, and it’s an indictment of our politics that such an obvious point has to be made

A Labour politician tweets a picture of a house with three England flags and a white van in the driveway. The Labour leader sacks said politician and takes to The Mirror to declare, rather desperately, that Labour is still ‘the party of working people’.

Unfortunately for Miliband, the fact that he thought this was a proportionate and normal reaction to Emily Thornberry’s tweet merely highlights what he wanted to conceal.

It shows his profound disconnection from those who might once have been described as working class (an expression that is now eschewed in favour of ‘working people’, presumably because of its socialist connotations).

Miliband could simply have said that he disagreed with the (inferred) criticism contained in Thornberry’s tweet and that people should be able to fly the English flag with pride and without reproach.

Instead he felt that the tweet was an attack on the values and practices of ‘working people’. All of them.

“The Labour Party was founded as the party of working people,” he wrote. “We are the party of working people. And we will always remain the party of working people. That is why I was furious at the tweet by Emily Thornberry…”

It certainly seems to be more common to see England flags in poorer areas than in more affluent ones. But outside a major international sporting event, observation would suggest that only a small minority of people choose to fly the St George Cross.

It is not only patronising to suggest that all working people have similar values (are all working people the same to you, Ed?!), it betrays the type of sweeping generalisation that can only be made from a position of ignorance.

Dan Ware, the owner of the house in question, is no more typical of ‘working people’ than Emily Thornberry is of millionaire homeowners. There will be many so-called working people who are not nationalistic and who wouldn’t fly an England flag, especially during a by-election where the candidate tipped to win has spoken favourably about repatriation of migrants.

There are millions of people in this category of ‘working people’, people with different jobs, backgrounds and cultures. There is no one type of ‘working person’ or uniform working class culture, and it’s an indictment of our politics that such an obvious point has to be made.

Annie Powell is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

20 Responses to “What exactly does Ed Miliband think it means to be a ‘working person’?”

  1. sarntcrip

    For the record, the following list are the policies Labour have announced for 2015 so far. Under absolutely no definition could this list be thought of as right wing. None. Is it perfect? Of course not. Do I wish they would go further? Of course I do. Will they stick to every one if they win in 2015? None of us can possibly know. Sadly, you still can’t get crystal balls on Amazon.

    But the list represents the progressive Labour party we’ve had for decades. Doubt them, push them, hold them to account, but if you want the Tories out and you live in a marginal seat, voting for anyone but Labour will get you exactly what you most fear. 5 more years of Cameron.

    -An £8 minimum wage

    -Fight for a living wage
    -Repeal Health and Social Care act
    -Repeal the Gagging law
    -Repeal the bedroom tax.
    -An end to inaccessible WCA centres
    -200,000 new homes pa by 2020
    -A mansion tax
    -A freeze on energy bills
    -Guaranteed jobs or training for young people out of work for a year or longer
    -A clampdown on exploitative landlords & more stable, secure rental contracts
    -25 hours of free childcare for 3 & 4 year olds
    -A clampdown on exploitative zero-hours contracts.
    -Integration of health and social care
    -Maximum 48 hour wait to see a GP
    -Mental health training for all NHS staff
    -A reformed WCA overseen by sick and disabled people
    -Penalties for every mistake Maximus make
    -ESA claimants out of the work prog
    -Reverse the 45p tax rate back to 50p

  2. GhostofJimMorrison

    There is no one type of ‘working person’

    True, but one could also say the same for Muslims, Asian, homosexuals etc etc, but the ‘left’ would rather box up all said ‘minority groups’ into one and treat them accordingly.

  3. CGR

    Labour is the party of benefit scrougers and immigrants !!!

  4. CGR

    Thornberry and her sort of trendy-lefty, Guardian reading snobs would really hate to be considered ‘working-class’.

  5. David Brede

    Maybe, but most Labour people are not of that ilk so it is time we all made more of closing the gap between us and our core supporters and showing that we care and are willing to do something about it.

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