Each left-wing movement in Europe has its own intricansies, but almost all of them were born of the Labour movement. After the industrial revolution, poor people, working class rallied together in center-left parties for more rights like paid sick leave, Universal Healthcare, social benefits. Social democratic parties were the party where the masses rallied in hope for a better life. Now the masses couldn’t be more detached from Social democratic parties. In Britain, the Labour Party is just the third most popular party among the working class, in France, the Front National also leads by a wider margin among working class while the socialist party drowns in popularity with this group of people and the same story happens in the Netherlands, Austria and many other countries. Center left parties are, in some cases, more popular among rich people than with poor people. Why this is happening? Very simple: Center left parties were once the party of the poor, unemployed, the factory worker, the uneducated, disaffected the one who was against the establishment. Now Center left parties are the party of the well connected, the rich, the college professor and the corporate lawyer.
Center left parties had once a clear agenda because they were made by working class people and for working class people; they knew clearly what they want and what were their priorities. They knew their struggles and their problems and wanted to solve them. Now, center left parties aren’t made essentially by the same people as before. They are leaded by elitist people who don’t have a clue how life is outside college campus or big cities. For some of these elitist people, going to a disaffected community or a desindustrialized area may be a field trip or a campaign stop but it will be never be their reality, their struggle, their problems, so working class or people in those communtities will never see them as their own representative.
(”Keir Hardie, a mine worker and union organizer who was one of the founders of the Labour party and was the first labour party member of parliement”)
It may sound cool and trendy having flags like helping africa, refugees welcome or ensuring the LGBTQI etc rights, but it isn’t wise to make it cornerstone of any leftist political programme. The proeminency of this thought on the left shows how much globalization has contributed to the detachment of some young elitist proto-politicians. Their Erasmus programme, gap year, or aiesec internship paid by their parents made them get closer from other realities and became more global but, at the same time, forget or underestimate the grim realities in their own community. The talk about ‘’white privilige’’ is a classic example of lack of self awareness within the elitist left. Is the unemployed industrial worker who’s factory was transfered to an asian country privildged? What about the college student who can’t afford university? Is he/she priviledged because of the colour of their skin?
Left elitists like to call tribalists, deplorable, racists or xenophobes to those who dare to raise questions about the integration of refugees or immigrants but they have no idea how is life in tough neighborouds. Locked in their private condos in the best parts of the city, this metropolitan elite has no clue on how life is outside their bubble; they underestimate the insecurity of these areas, the challenges to integrate some communities and the cultural clashes that normally happen.
The critic speech made by Meryl Streep in the Golden globes on Donald Trump was widely publicized in leftist media as being stunning, courageous, vibrant but was it effective? Just as curiosity, Meryl Streep, with a net worth of dozens of millions of dollars wear a dress embellished with gems that costs way more than a normal house and spoke to an audience that is no different than her. An audience that stands up in disapproval because oscars nominees have too many white people but stands in silence about the continuos discrimination of poor whites in reality shows. Meryl talked about her sad feelings towards the style of Donald Trump, forgetting it was the despair, the anger of so many of his supporters about the state of their lives and the incompetence of establishment politicians that made them vote for Donald Trump; they couldn’t care less if some people find his way of expressing themselves offensive or not.
The reader may now think that the election of Donald Trump contrary the opinion in this article because the american President is rich and performed well among working-class. It’s true that Donald Trump is a billionaire and makes no secret about that, but that doesn’t mean elitist. Donald Trump talks about the issues that common people wanna see adressed like jobs and security with a simple and clear language and, above all, talks his mind. Trump was the weapon many ordinary americans saw useful to shake the political establishment. If that will happen or not, it’s another issue, but in the 2016 election the republican candidate was the candidate of the ordinary people because he was able to incorporate it’s problems and talk about it openly.
For some years, with the third way, the left could sideline it’s economic issues in favour of social ones because there was at the same time economic growth, but with the economic crisis of 08’ and the slow recovery, people start demanding to be heard, to be more included in the parties, something that didn’t happen and that is why the leftwing parties didn’t had the sucess they could had after the crisis. The left needs to regain it’s base and will only do it when incorporates these people.
Like a fish can’t survive without water, the left can’t win elections without the working class. Appeal to common people, doesn’t mean just having a more leftwing political programme; There is a urgent necessity of a complete strategic change: It is crucial to ditch the acessory and deliver a simple and clear message that focus on socio-economic justice and improving people’s lives. To start this new kind of politics, the left needs to get rid of the current status quo, break with the establishment in left-wing parties which are a mix of dumb carreirists and detached elitists and start having real people, who can be truly representative ,in politics like small business owners, union leaders, entrepeneurs and solidarity activists.
André Branco Pereira, Law student
Disclaimer: This Post reflects solely the author opinion it does not represent the whole platform