Saturday 16 May 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015 Posted by Jake 2 comments Labels: , , , , , ,
Posted by Jake on Saturday, May 16, 2015 with 2 comments | Labels: , , , , , ,

"Lions led by donkeys" was an assessment of the qualities of senior officers and the rest of the troops in the British Army of World War One (WWI). Ordinary soldiers were said to be the lions in the trenches while their top leaders were the donkeys in the officers' messes. 

The donkeys recklessly sent the lions to their deaths on the battlefield. The donkeys did this not through incompetence, but because their interests were not aligned with the lions. The donkeys' interest was to keep their privileges, which in practice were mainly privileges over the lions. The lions fought in WWI mainly to be left alone to live their lives in peace.

Though the lions' and donkeys' interests were not aligned both knew the threat to them came from the same direction: Germany. So the lions allowed themselves to be led by the donkeys.

In politics the situation is the same. The interests of leading politicians (the donkeys) are not aligned with the majority of voters (the lions). For the politicians to win the support of the voters, they too need to persuade them that the threat comes from the same direction. 

That is a key problem for the Labour Party. The Labour Party has historically been class based, while the Tory Party has been cash based. The Tories can easily assemble a pride of lions who see their cash threatened even if the individual lion's cash amounts to only hundreds and not millions. But Labour can't do the same based on Class for its Leftie agenda. 

Why not, you may ask? Why can't Labour win elections leading the "lower" C2DE classes against the "higher" ABC1 classes?

According to a YouGov poll, there are actually more Lefties in the ABC1 classes than in the C2DE classes. And Righties make up a chunky 22% of the C2DE classes, not all that much less than the 27% of Lefties in C2DE.

The definitions of the A,B,C1,C2,D,E classifications are as follows:
Social Grade Description % HRP population (UK)
AB Higher & intermediate managerial, administrative, professional occupations 22.17
C1 Supervisory, clerical & junior managerial, administrative, professional occupations 30.84
C2 Skilled manual occupations 20.94
DE Semi-skilled & unskilled manual occupations, Unemployed and lowest grade occupations 26.05

Labour, if it tries to fight a Class War, will find half its fellow Lefties in the opposing trenches and half its Rightie opponents inside its own cohort. Fighting its friends while hoping for the support of its enemies will end predictably badly.

According to the YouGov poll, taken in July 2014 the great majority of Britons are not right wing and are also not left wing. The poll showed:
  • 29% Left Wing (anything from slightly Left to very Left)
  • 25% Right Wing (anything from slightly Right to very Right)
  • 20% Centre
  • 25% Don't Know
  • [above adds to 99% due to rounding]

Taking the same data from another perspective:
  • 70% are Not Left Wing
  • 74% are Not Right Wing
Whatever wing you swing to, whether Left or Right, the great majority are not with you. But if any party has the intrinsic advantage, Labour does. 

The YouGov data suggests Britons tend to the Left Wing until we get old. To be more precise, as we Brits grow older the percentage of Lefties stays pretty constant. But the "Don't Knows" seem to migrate to the Centre or to the Right as they age.

Labour's great conundrum is to identify the common threat that will get the lions to follow its lead. In the 2010-2015 parliament the Tories were successful making Labour the common threat. But they weren't actually all that successful. David Cameron's stunning 2015 victory was stunning not because of its magnitude, but because it happened at all. In terms of magnitude, in recent decades it is only better than his own 2010 result which landed him in an uncomfortable coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

The Tories made voters believe the real common threat was to their wallets, and not to their welfare. They did this by successfully spinning the yarn that the Welfare State is for the undeserving workshy and not for hard working families. 

Labour failed to counter this fib in spite of the mountain of evidence on "in-work benefits" paid to the hard-workers, let alone the plentiful evidence of the reckless damage to public services coming from past and future "Austerity" cuts.
Labour should demonstrate that the real common threat is to this Welfare State.

This has nothing to do with Class Warfare. It is not just for the low paid and the disabled. It is a threat to anyone who can't afford to pay for private services including health; education; legal. With the average UK salary of around £26,500 per annum that certainly means enough lions willing to vote for the donkeys who would protect the Welfare State to achieve a clear electoral majority. 

Stephan Shakespeare, the CEO of the pollster YouGov, commented on why the polls didn't expect the Tory victory in 2015:
"6% of the electorate did not care to identify themselves as Tories but nevertheless voted Tory."
Apparently sufficient voters were ashamed to admit voting Tory to swing the 2015 election. Don't we only do things we are ashamed of for want of a better alternative? Will Labour get its act together and present a better alternative?


  1. The great trick of government is to keep us fighting among ourselves. The middle blame the working poor, the working poor blame welfare recipients, who then blame immigrants. Divide and conquer to keep us all fighting amongst ourselves.

  2. The current Labour leadership needs to stop spending so much time appealing to their own members - we will vote for them anyway. I have voted Labour in every election since I turned 18 and always will. But there are many people who voted Labour when Tony Blair was leader and haven't since - win those people back and the general election results will be similarly reproduced.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Share This

Follow Us

  • Subscribe via Email

Search Us