There you are, bringing class into it again

Reflecting Britain is a certainly Good Thing, but it makes me wonder how the Lib Dems can encourage more people who aren’t… how can I put this… middle class, to get involved.

Of course, the advantages of being middle class are not only (or even mainly) financial, but relate to an amorphous system of cultural capital, social networks, aspirations etc, that can’t be deal with in the same way as relatively less complex identities like gender or ethnicity. So I don’t think that Reflecting Britain should just extend its remit, in any case its BME work is likely to have a positive ‘class’ side effect.

But this is something worth thinking about.

In a recent mailing to federal conference reps, the guidance on submitting a motion suggested asking a ‘teacher, journalist or civil servant’ in the local party to draft it. On that basis, none of the 12 working-class Liberal MPs in 1885 would have been asked…

(Note from James: this is the first of, hopefully, many posts from fellow member of the Liberati Bernard Gowers. Be gentle with him :)).


  1. Darn does that mean a former Sunday school teacher, blogger (ie neo journalist) and Admin Officer in the Civil Service I’m tripling qualified to take on yet another role in the local party.

    I’m just going to go over to the corner to faint.

  2. This is a tricky one. People’s gender and ethnic origin don’t change. Their class status can. How do you define people who come from a working class background but have become middle class? Indeed does becoming involved in politics, in itself, contribute to changing your class? John Prescott clearly used to be ‘working class’, is he still?

  3. Welcome Bernard!

    I take the point re the ‘teacher, journalist or civil servant’, and assume you’re saying they could no longer be considered ‘working class’ because they are salaried professionals. (Though it’s quite possible for a local journalist not to have been university-educated, and s/he will almost certainly earn less than a plumber.)

  4. I agree with the general point, but think that the ‘teacher, journalist or civil servant’ example is ill-chosen. It is tempting to assume that ‘anyone can write’ and that ability to use and manipulate language well isn’t really a skill. (Here speaks an embittered copy-editor.)

    There is a tendency for local parties to appoint as treasurers those who have worked in accountancy or bookkeeping roles in their professsional lives. I doubt whether anyone would call this class-ist. It is in the same vein that in drafting a motion to a conference you might seek the advice of someone whose professional expertise involves writing (or editing).

    I am often disappointed by the inability of fellow activists to use the English language correctly, including many who fancy themselves as artworkers etc.

  5. Hello Bernard!
    In writing motions I normally turn to my colleague, a para-legal. He also does most of the text in Focus (while I do the turn the text into Focus speak.
    But he also made a good local party secretary as well.
    I’m not sure what trade you’d suggest would make the ideal local party chair…

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