This is our truth, tell us yours
Labour isn’t talking about a lot of things. One of them is the sharp decline in its share of the vote amongst C2’s – unskilled and semi skilled workers, many of them in retail and other ‘service’ industries. Is there a correlation between the much vaunted flexible Labour market, beloved of the Blairite right of New Labour, and that decline in the C2 vote?
In the name of Labour market flexibility Labour drastically reshaped the Labour market, not just through changes to workplace regulation and a failure to support workers rights, but through a persistent emphasis on employers subsidies like working families tax credits.
Yes, I did just say that. Working Families Tax Credits, and similar schemes, may be presented as welfare benefits but the principal beneficiaries are employers who no longer have to bear all the cost of their workforce being in a fit state to turn up and work for them. Allied to tax exemptions like the lower limit on National Insurance, the effect has been to create an economy where the creation of insecure, part time jobs is not only encouraged, but rewarded.
By not asking these questions, by not re-framing in work welfare benefits as what they are, employer subsidies, Labour is allowing the debate about in work benefits to take place entirely on ground determined by the Conservatives. Winning back those C2 voters, who’re tired, exhausted and sick to death of their lives being framed by the petty tyranny of means tests and employers who see workers as disposable might be a damned sight easier is Labour only said’we’re on your side’ instead of the usual empty rhetoric about ‘hard working families’.
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