By: Daniel King, Student Voices writer
Let’s just get the embarrassing truth out into the open. I am Middle Class. Yes, there we are, the shameful admission of my social status is over. Now brace yourselves for another rather astonishing announcement; I was a staunch supporter of Britain exiting the European Union.
Obviously, I am delighted that the United Kingdom was courageous enough to defy the scaremongers and bullies, and I am fascinated to discover which path our great nation will take in the future. However, the last twelve hours since the declaration was delivered have emphasised deep divisions within British society, not just between Scotland and England, but also between the metropolitan middle class and the working classes.
Lord Ashcroft polls have highlighted the differences in opinion according to social group. Whilst 57% of the AB social group voted to remain, an astonishing 64% of the DE social group voted to smash our partnership with the European Union. Indeed, it is clear that rust belt post-industrial towns swung it for the Leave Campaign. Let’s look at the example of Hartlepool, a traditional Labour heartland in the North East of England. Economically, the town has suffered from substantial deprivation since the closure of the Steelworks and the Shipyards. At the last general election, the vote share for UKIP rose by 21% as voters started to turn their backs on the establishment Labour Party. Yesterday, 70% of Hartlepool residents backed a UK exit from the European Union.
The reason for this Eurosceptic revolution in the North has to rest with the dangerous effects of globalisation, something which the EU has strongly encouraged. The truth is that many voters in economically deprived estates have been left behind by the growing trend towards a globalised world. They have seen industry motor away from their towns, a decline in the traditional communitarian working class culture and the advent of immigration into their area. It is maybe the time to consider partial economic protectionism in order to eradicate the disconnect that many in the working classes feel from society, and ensure that the post-industrial towns are regenerated and have fulfilling employment opportunities.
Rather than have an intelligent debate about this, many have taken to social media in the last twelve hours to voice their true opinions of those low-income voters who supported a Leave vote yesterday. It is only in this campaign that I have noticed the contempt that many in the middle class have for those from working class backgrounds. Of course, the accusations of racism and xenophobia were the first to appear. Patronising tweets have been sent mocking those who have concerns about immigrants competing for jobs. But then it must be difficult for a trust fund student from Hampstead to understand the concerns of a young mother living on a crowded council estate in Dagenham. It is easy for those of us with money to not appreciate the deep feelings of insecurity and vulnerability that run through many in our society.
The second accusation to unravel was that those who voted leave were too “stupid” to have the right to vote. Yes, only a true democracy denies those uneducated masses the vote apparently. This highlighted the arrogance of many in the middle classes that only they could be right and only they should have the ability to determine our country’s future. Anyone with a different opinion is merely a waste of space in our country. Then, there is the typical accusation that those that voted Leave had never left England before and were, therefore, not cultured or internationally-minded enough. I think someone should remind Poppy, skiing in the Alps annually, that many people in low income jobs cannot afford an expensive city break abroad every year. And even if they can, should they be ashamed of the fact that they holiday in England rather than tour the art galleries of Florence?
The last twelve hours have proved that there are two societies within our country. There is the metropolitan middle class, ruthlessly and desperately clinging on to its own privileges, ravenously finding any opportunity to prove its own altruism even if its decisions do nothing but highlight its own self-obsession. And then there are those who have been left behind by the great tide that is the 21st century, those who are trapped in a world of insecurity, those who have seen their communities tear apart in the last decade. It would be fitting if, instead of endorsing vile mockery and slander, we who live in higher-income areas appreciate their concerns. Although we may exist in different societies, we should all be proud to live in the same country.
The Middle Class Strike Back Reviewed by Student Voices on 16:13 Rating: