Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Barnet and the social divide between rich and poor

Over recent months, some commentators on the left have started to whisper about the possibility that the local Conservatives are hell bent on a policy of "social cleansing" of Barnet, where it becomes an exclusive enclave of the mega rich. They point to all manner of ratherstrange policies regarding social housing and have added 2 + 2 together to get 5. You see the big flaw in their argument is this. You can't be rich unless there are lots of poor people. The whole purpose of being rich (if you do it properly) is to swan around enjoying yourself whilst everyone else does the work (preferably on minimum wage). What the Conservative Party have been very good at is to generate a sense of apathy amongst the working class and lower middle class, which results in them not bothering to vote. Every study ever done has shown that Conservative voters are far more likely to vote than Labour supporters.

This is down to two resons. Firstly Labour are extraordinarily bad at making the case to their core voters that the only way their lot will improve is by voting Labour. The other is that Labour have stopped recruiting working class people to stand as candidates, so the core vote no longer associates themselves with their politicians. The Ed Millibands and Tony Blairs of this world completely lack the common touch. Sometimes it almost seems as if they talk another language to the rest of us. I was chatting to Mill Hill Tory Councillor John Hart recently at his wifes funeral. John always tells me that he buys his vegetables in Burnt Oak. He says the quality is better and the cost far cheaper than any of the supermarkets and the banter with the shop owners is far more fun than "the blank moronic stares from the checkout girls" in supermarkets. Now this is a bit unfair, but I think we all know there is a grain of truth in it. A point he made to me was quite telling "How many Barnet Labour Councillors would buy their mushrooms in Burnt Oak?"

The truth is that there is a huge social divide in Barnet but the biggest problem is that it is the Labour Party and the Labour Councillors that are the biggest cuplrates. In the two winnable seats in Barnet we have Andrew Dismore and Sarah Sackman as Labour candidates. Both are good candidates, however both are lawyers. The Leader of the Barnet Labour group is Alison Moore who is a scientist. How many councillors are labourers, bus drivers or manual workers? These are the people who should be the core of the party, but it seems that they've been ethnically cleansed from the party senior ranks.

Someone asked me if we'll ever see another Labour government if we get Scottish devolution and the large core of Scottish Labour depart. The answer is yes, but only if Labour gets back in touch with its roots. This would start with them actually caring about their core voters. Barnet would be a good place to start.

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