Labour's Deeper Disconnect

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Alan Johnson notes that the confrontation between Gillian Duffy and Gordon Brown was not just a gaffe but a symptom:

In three critical areas the Labour Party is seen among significant layers of working class people to have ignored their anxieties and denied them a voice: economic globalization, European integration, and mass immigration. Each subject has been declared off political limits.

In the US, the white working class has been affected mainly by the first but not the second and third. Notice that almost all the immigration is white and from the EU, so racism, let alone bigotry, cannot explain resistance. This explains resistance:

The Labour government predicted 57,000 immigrants would come to the UK when it opened up to all the new accession countries from Central and Eastern Europe when the EU was enlarged. Around 800,000 came.

Britain is a tiny country, compared with the US. Adding close to a million new workers from abroad in a few years, when followed by a steep recession, makes immigration - legal immigration - a legitimate public issue. Dismissing concerns as bigotry is symptomatic of the disconnect many of Labour's base feel about their erstwhile party. I suspect this is a key reason why David Cameron may well be the next prime minister. In fact, my own sense is that things have shifted decisively in the Tory direction, poisoned chalice though government may be.

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