by Kevin Meagher
There’s a space in British politics that no one wants to occupy at the moment.
If you’re sensible and moderate, perhaps even old-fashioned in your outlook, in favour of traditional marriage, say, or concerned about the pace of change in society, maybe disapproving of mass immigration and not particularly enthused by the growth of identity politics, then there’s not really anywhere for you to go, politically, these days.
In previous times, many of you backed Labour, as your family did before you, but they’re all career politicians these days aren’t they? Self-serving PC loonies.
You can’t understand why Jeremy Corbyn won’t wear a tie or makes such a fuss about singing the National Anthem.
You don’t live in central London. You’re from one of those towns in the north and midlands that people in London have heard of, but aren’t quite sure where they are.
You don’t own an Apple Mac. You can’t taste the difference between Guatemalan and Colombian coffee beans. You voted to leave the European Union and you don’t regret it one tiny bit.
You want to buy British and be proud of your country. You like your politicians in suits. You wonder why we can’t just jail or expel Muslim fanatics who hate us.
You drink lager or real ale, not craft beer. If you go out for a meal, it’s to a Harvester pub, not a bijou Vietnamese canteen.
You’ve started shopping in Aldi and Lidl these past few years. You think climate change is overblown. Overseas aid is misspent and the benefits system is a soft touch.
You would like to go on holiday abroad, but nine million people like you don’t even have a passport. You aren’t a member of a trade union. They only represent cushy public sector idlers these days don’t they?
Technically, you have your own business. At least you’re self-employed. Which really means you scrape together a wage each week and have zero job security. Save for a pension? Don’t make me laugh.
You would like your kids to stay on after school, but think university is a waste of time if you stack up all that debt and have no job at the end of it.
If your car breaks down, you worry how you’ll pay to fix it. There’s no tube stop to the call centre or warehouse on the business park in the provincial town where you work.
No-one’s interested in you and your problems, at least that’s how it feels.
Nick Clegg called you ‘alarm clock Britain’, but he was a dead loss wasn’t he? Propping up Cameron for a cushy life.
Then there’s that Tory, Halfon, who talks about ‘blue collar Conservatism’. But the toffs have never been bothered about people like you.
You couldn’t understand why Labour picked the wrong Miliband; the one who didn’t sign his own sons’ birth certificates and couldn’t even eat a bacon sarnie properly.
You’ve flirted with UKIP these past few years. They’re the only ones bothered about immigration and stupid EU rules and all that waste.
As ballot papers go out for the Labour leadership election and after weeks of hustings, does it feel as though these are the people the party is talking about or talking to?
They’re often referred to as the ‘left behind’ people, at odds with the modern world.
But they’re not. They enjoy their lives. They understand what community means. They know right from wrong. They just know when politicians aren’t interested in them.
They will still vote to spend more on public services, but they also hate waste, scroungers and do-gooding liberals. They want an easier life and to know their elderly relatives and kids will be alright and worry that they won’t be.
They are the ‘skipped over’ people.
The conveniently forgotten. Written out of the script. The sorts that Emily Thornberry wouldn’t want to live next door to.
They are the people New Labour took for granted and the the Corbynistas simply ignore. They hold unfashionable views. They laugh at the wrong jokes. Read the wrong newspapers.
They are economically nationalist and believe in fairness, not equality. They are social conservatives who are still ‘live and let live’ as long as you don’t shove your alternative lifestyle down their throats.
They are the bedrock of any winning coalition that Labour will ever put together.
Eventually, the party is going to have to speak to these people and for them. They are the ordinary men and women of this country who either vote Labour, or who used to, and the party needs them if it ever wants to govern again.
There aren’t enough hipsters, ethnics, students, middle-class lefties, LGBT-ers, feminists and public sector types to get Labour over the winning line. No rainbow coalition that avoids speaking for real Britain will ever win.
It’s very simple: the sooner Labour sees that, the sooner it gets back in the game.
But the longer it ignores them, the greater the chance of them finding a new permanent home.
Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut