POLITIK | Har vänsterns försök att vinna val på klasskamp misslyckats? Det ser åtminstone så ut i Storbritannien.
Idag ser inte Labour ut att kunna komma ur den grop man grävt åt sig själv genom att välja Jeremy Corbyn till partiledare.
I tv-världen är Ian Richardsons tolkning av karaktären Francis Urquhart, från den engelska serien House of Cards, den typiske maktpolitikern inom det konservativa partiet.
Men även om premiärminister David Cameron har just en sådan privilegierad bakgrund som lätt kan framstå som den klassiska nidbilden av en konservativ politiker så är det Torypartiet som väljarna har förtroende för.
Toby Young, associate editor på tidskriften The Spectator, tror att det mest är den politiska klassen och media som tror att politiker från “överklassen” är till nackdel för ett parti. Väljarna däremot bry sig inte.
Following Labour’s triumph at the 1945 general election, the aristocracy became convinced that the nation had been seized by revolutionary fervour and embarked on a frantic public relations offensive. Stately homes were demolished, accents were played down and ostentatious displays of wealth became taboo. As Nancy Mitford put it in her famous essay on the subject in 1956: ‘The English lord has been nurtured on the land and is conversant with the cunning ways of the animal kingdom. He has often seen the grouse settle into the heather to rise and be shot at no more.’
Whether as a result of this strategy or not, no serious attempt to redistribute wealth has taken place since the Attlee administration. One of the most striking facts about post-war politics is that if you discount the three victories won by Tony Blair — who was about as left-wing as David Steel — Labour hasn’t won a general election since October 1974 and that barely counted. Without Blair, Labour hasn’t won a convincing majority since 1966, almost 50 years ago. The politics of envy has failed.
To be fair, even the Tory party, which prides itself on understanding how to win and retain power, took a while to wake up to this. After Alec Douglas-Home failed to win in 1964, it concluded that the party should never again be led by a toff and the next three leaders seemed to vindicate that decision with varying degrees of success. But after three consecutive losses in 1997, 2001 and 2005, it was forced to re-evaluate this policy and put another Old Etonian in charge. Exactly 10 years later, David Cameron has proved to be one of the most successful leaders in the party’s history.
Some might argue that Cameron has only triumphed by toning down his privileged status — resigning from Whites in 2008, for instance – but such efforts have always been half-hearted.
Inside the Westminster bubble, the Prime Minister’s promotion of his friends to his inner circle is regarded as a political mistake, since it adds to the impression that he’s in politics to help out his rich chums. In fact, there’s no reason to think it has harmed his party’s electoral prospects. The British public isn’t nearly as obsessed by class as political journalists. In their eyes, I suspect, all politicians seem to be from another planet, with little attention paid to whether they went to Eton or Haverstock Comp.
Bild: EMPICS, via Landov. Ian Richardson som Francis Urquhart i den engelska tv-serien House of Cards.