A number of people have been in touch with Left Luggage since we launched to say they agree with our basic analysis that the left needs to orientate itself to address the immediate needs of working class people, but they don’t know where to start.
Of course, it really is not for us to tell people in any detail what issues to take up, what tactics to use, or what forms of organisation to adopt. Clearly such things can only be addressed by those people who are “in the thick of it”. We aim to provide some general strategic insights, to bring to attention good work done by others, and to highlight both the experiences of other groups as well as, in time, reporting on our own efforts.
For the moment we would like to respond in a general way to a couple of responses. The first comes from a reader in a Midlands market town where “political activism is rare at best”. He says:
I now earn a modest wage, and feel as though I am cheating if I refer to myself as working class. But I do agree with equality, and all the rights workers should have.
I also live in an area described as amongst the top 10% most deprived in the country
It is with this back ground, in a work place hostile to my politics, a family to feed, and in a fractured community that I wonder what I can do. How I can “organise”. Some friends are receptive to my ideas, and the points I make to them, but to say they agree fully, or in some cases, grasp it fully would be wrong.
I do my best, but I am so ingrained in to the system that I have very little free time. When I am not at work in the day, and my partner is not at work in the evening, we work on our allotment. I have limited travel, and importantly no experience, no one to learn from.
I try to encourage gardening, cycle use, I advocate a health diet. I talk to people about injustices. But my message falls on deaf ears. My colleges at work for example simply display indifference and apathy.
This reader highlights a number of important points. First is the question of social class. We argue that the left in Britain is dominated by middle class activists, with a large contingent of students. This is partly for reasons of history, but is also an outcome of the priorities of the left: what issues it chooses to address, how it does so, and who it reaches. Its orientation, we have argued, is not towards the needs of working class people. -Keep reading>