Posts Tagged ‘Kulturkampf’

Unite’s confused kulturkampf

08/07/2013, 07:53:52 PM

by Jonathan Todd

Len McCluskey began his article in the Mirror over the weekend by stating:

“If your son or daughter fancies becoming a Labour MP, forget it. They have more chance of cleaning in the Commons than being elected to it.”

Who is he addressing?

The mother who has worked in the NHS all her life and the father who served his time as an electrician? They’ve never been active in politics or known any university besides the Open University. They have no friends in high places, whether in the “posh part of Stockport” or elsewhere.

Or is McCluskey warning off Oxbridge educated, ex-ministerial advisors and Demos associates? The thing is: Those are my parents and this is my life.

Perhaps my background is working class enough to get over the Unite acceptability threshold. But having checked my privilege, I’ve damned myself by having the temerity to get as good an education as I could and make the most of the opportunities this created.

It seems to me ever harder to be sure what class you are. By most measures, I’m probably becoming more middle class as I get older. But life isn’t a bowl of strawberries. Property prices, childcare costs, pension saving. They worry me as much as the next dad to a young family. I believe there is a term for this: the squeezed middle.

I don’t feel that any superior virtue or wisdom attaches to me through membership of the squeezed middle. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, whatever our class. While class membership seems to me more perplexing than ever, all Labour members can agree with the famous Neil Kinnock line: “The real privilege of being strong is to help people who are not strong.” And caring enough about other people to want to help them is a matter of empathy, not class allegiance.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon