Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

The new working class: how to win hearts, minds and votes, by Claire Ainsley, paperback, 200 pages, ISBN 978-1-4473-4418-6, Policy Press, 2018, £12.99

New-Workng-class The new working class: how to win hearts, minds and votes

 Claire Ainsley is Executive Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. In this useful book she shows that voters generally have very sensible views about what Britain needs to flourish.

She points out that "by Labour's third successive victory in 2005, working-class support for Labour had waned, and non-voting rates of working-class voters increased." Party identification with Labour by class has broken down, so most working class people do not feel represented by any political party.

Increasingly, "the interests of a narrow but entitled minority have come to dominate everyone else's, leading to a dislocation between the mass of society and its political representation by the major parties."

The Resolution Foundation discovered that typical real incomes (after housing costs) among low- to middle-income households were lower in 2016-17 than in 2003-04.

83 per cent agree that it is the government's responsibility to assist industry to grow, to develop new products and technology, and to finance projects to create new jobs.

She urges "an active, long-term industrial strategy that supports industries likely to provide inclusive growth in regions of the UK that most need it, backed by financial incentives and a positive climate for business that fulfils its social obligations through supporting the skills and educational development of the local population."

She points out that "Leaving the EU should be an opportunity to establish how the UK's public purchasing could be used more actively to support UK firms. … through contracts to UK businesses, in particular, small- to medium-sized enterprises operating in areas of the UK that need a jobs boost, or it could also mean greater obligations on contractors bidding for public spending to ensure they meet local social responsibilities such as participating in employer-backed colleges to increase skills acquisitions for locals."

In Preston, a voluntary initiative to buy local got an extra £75 million a year spent in the city and the top 300 suppliers created 800 new jobs in 2016 alone.

Access to affordable and high-quality preschool care is vital. So are technical and vocational education, workplace training and high-quality, high-skilled apprenticeships.

60 per cent of all voters agree that private companies should not be allowed to play a bigger role in running state schools and NHS hospitals.

The author quotes a Scarborough voter who said, "I voted Brexit because I thought it should make wages rise because employers will have to pay a decent wage rather than exploiting immigrants as cheap labour." A Clacton-on-Sea voter said, "Companies used to have a responsibility to train and educate a local workforce. That isn't the case these days, because they can go abroad to find the skills."

And, as Ms Ainsley observes, "Leaving the EU does provide the UK with the opportunity to set the terms of immigration policy …" She recommends, "As part of the skills package for adult learners, English as a second language could be compulsory for those migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers who are in good enough health to undertake learning if courses are made freely available."

She has some very good ideas, especially on the vital matter of rebuilding industry. 

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