This is a call to action
As we approach an absolutely pivotal general election, one which potentially will set the course of our country for a generation, we have to ask:
"Why would anyone working class vote Tory?"
Part of the answer is that our communities have been fractured, our unions weakened and our sense of ‘us’ has narrowed. This is not an accident, it was the policy of the Tory party under Margaret Thatcher when she famously declared: ‘there is no such thing as society’, before systematically trying to demolish our community institutions.
It was not just the large workplaces and the big trade union branches that went, but often the high street shops, even the churches and pubs, the libraries and community centres, and with them the multitude of groups, the darts teams, the pensioners’ dinner clubs, and the mothers and toddlers groups, that had created the ‘social glue’ that held our communities together.
In the past our communities were proud to think of themselves as part of the working class, with a sense that we all sink or swim together. Yet increasingly, people tend to think of themselves as achieving on their own, or sinking on their own.
This individualism, has political consequences. If you are fearful and feel isolated, then you don’t generally feel optimistic that things can change. As so many of our people try to make ends meet in an increasingly hostile financial environment, the lack of a believe that ‘things could, and should’ be different is a gift to those who would squeeze us and our communities even harder.
Time to step up
Over the last 40 years, not only have we seen objective changes that have challenged our sense of ‘us’, but we have often seen a systematic failure to even recognise the need to rebuild a new ‘us’ based on the new jobs, the new communities and the new circumstances.
As a direct consequence, it is possible that Boris Johnson, the most inept and uncaring of a long line of inept and uncaring Tory leaders might win a general election on the basis of winning the votes of disaffected working class communities. And, if he has a working majority, his payback to our communities will undoubtedly be more suffering, more misery and less hope. It’s a cycle of despair that we have to break.
How did all this happen? Well, we took our eye off the ball, we didn’t spend enough time engaging with and building our communities. So when the election is called, for many in our communities, their only source of information will be that which is hostile to Labour and to the very people in our communities they hope to convince to vote for an anti-working class Tory government.
It could all be so different. If we can link a rebirth of organising in our communities and our workplaces with a growing level of political education, then people will be able to dismiss the narratives of division and blame that currently plague us. There’s a job of work to do, and we are looking for your help to get it done. Even if Labour wins the next election, this process of rebuilding is essential, but if it loses, then it will become our only effective means of defence.
We want to build a national network of volunteer facilitators willing to deliver Ella Baker School of Organising training materials anywhere people want to host us, to women’s groups, community networks, equality campaigners, trade union branches, and political organisations.
Are you in? Sign up here: