1990s >> 1995 >> no-1090-june-1995

Editorial: A Touch of Class

Middle England, middle class, the middle ground—political parties today are in a muddle over the middle. Desperate for the votes of the middle income earners, Tony Blair’s New Labour and the Tories will claim to be able to move mountains for the “middle classes”, though it remains to be seen whether the so-named grouping are really as interested in any of the main parties as the parties themselves appear to be in them.

But who are the “middle class” and what differentiates them from the workers?

The answer is nothing—or, at least nothing of any substance—for the “middle class” is really but one section of the working class of wage and salary earners. Though the so-called “middle class” is not destitute like some workers are, its basic economic position is that of the working class as a whole and it is their status as workers that really shapes these peoples’ concerns—wages and salaries versus profits for the few and pay-outs for the fat cats; improved conditions of work rather than speed-ups and lay-offs; the worries over indebtedness, loans and mortgages as opposed to the opulence of those who can live off rent, interest and profits without doing any work.

If Tony Blair and John Major think that they can permanently shackle the better-off section of workers to capital’s viewpoint, as they would wish, then they may be in for a shock—just as Mrs Thatcher was. They can try telling the teachers, lecturers, doctors and nurses that all will be well in the land of free market competition if the middle-of-the-road lieutenants of capital are left to oversee it. But if they open their eyes the warning signs are already there from the increasing numbers who have learnt differently. The increasing numbers of the so-called “middle class” who have experienced the ruin of ruthless competition and the madness of market forces being let rip. Passing election victories notwithstanding, Blair and Major may find out soon enough that whoever plays around in the middle of the road is liable to get knocked over.