From the UK to the USA – have we forgotten who we are fighting for?

I have seen a lot on social media attributing the recent US Presidential Election result to racism, sexism, and homophobia and thought I would throw my two pence into the ring. So here it is.

In my opinion saying the election result this week was about race, gender, or sexuality trivialises a much larger root problem. Ultimately I would argue that the recent election which saw Donald Trump named as the 45th President of the USA was an expression of frustration on a colossal scale. Like the UK Brexit vote back in June the result stemmed from a place of social alienation, feelings of disillusionment, and neglect. It highlighted traditional working class voters in deindustrialised areas, and modern working class voters turning around and screaming into the social, political and economic echo chamber – ‘WE’RE STILL HERE!’

When industry began to dissipate, we were on the cusp of a cultural and technocratic revolution which saw younger generations, typically in metropolitan areas taking the reins and dictating the direction of our economic and social structure. The emergence of a new middle class who are (in my opinion) socially liberal and economically conservative has caused the traditional and modern working classes to be marginalised and overlooked during the course of a thirty-year period.

What I mean by this is that with a perceived diminishing base in the working class, politicians of all creeds have chased the votes by legislating to benefit this new emergent social caste. Turning their backs on entire communities, often in rural areas. In recent years’ politicians have consistently undermined and patronised the concerns of what they believed to be a dying vote.

The terrifying thing is that whilst the relatively new middle class liberals manipulate the national agenda, the working classes are being left in isolated communities propagating their unrest with every new generation in both the UK and the US. They are not diminishing, and I would suggest that the demographic turnout of both the UK EU referendum and the more recent US Election is indicative of the fact that people have had enough, feeling unrepresented and forgotten.

The sad state of affairs is that because of all the above, the gap is widening and people who were once the core support of the left are being pushed into obscurity and into the arms of alternatives. Not because they believe in what that person/party is saying; many in fact still self-identify as Labour, but they feel the only way to get attention is to smash the status quo.

I’m working class, and Labour through and through. I am an active Trade Unionist, Campaign Organiser, and now CLP Chair. However, controversially I voted to leave the EU – and whilst I think it is a global tragedy that Trump has been elected, unfortunately I can see the logic that put him there.

I hope these events are an eye opener for the Labour movement, and that our members don’t just flippantly cast off the people who voted in the UK and USA. I see the UK referendum and the US election as cries for help from a forgotten class, living in forgotten communities. The very people the Labour Party and Democrats were established to represent.

Andrew Achilleos – Chair and Campaign Organiser for Dagenham & Rainham Labour Party

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