Hugo Rifkind Hugo Rifkind

Labour’s middle-class problem

At what point will working-class voters start to question the resources doled out to the rich?

Be fair. Theresa May’s plan actually half-worked. No, there was a plan. I know the consensus now seems to be that the entire election was motivated by little more a succession of senior Tories saying ‘Gosh yes, everybody loves you!’ to the Prime Minister while Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy stood behind her chair, slapping truncheons into their palms. Only that’s not how it was.

Once, there was philosophy here. There was a plan to cut loose the liberal, urban, Remainiac middle classes, and draw in a new working-class Tory vote instead. And, like I said, it half-worked. As in, the working classes might not have got the message that the Tories were now a party for them, but the urban middle classes surely got the glaring hint that it now was not for them.

You can see it in polls. YouGov last week gave Labour an 11-point lead over the Conservatives among ABC1s. Or if you want, you can see it encapsulated in the social care fiasco, which, even more than that diode blowing in Theresa May’s motherboard, was perhaps the pivot on which the Tory’s election fortunes turned.

To recap, in case memories already fade, this was the policy whereby people worth more than £100,000 were to be asked to pay their own care costs, thereby preventing them from being able to gift this money, posthumously, to their children. Two months on, the dynamics of that fight still feel all wrong. In a straightforward world, it would be Labour that was keen to get its claws into unearned inheritance, and the Conservatives outraged at the very thought. All of Mayism can be encapsulated in the way that, for the briefest of periods, this polarity was reversed.

I’m not convinced Theresa May actually ever understood Mayism.

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