Working Class Officer Model Motion
Motion In Support of Creation of an XXXX CLP Working Class Officer Role
Summary: This motion advocates the creation of a Working Class Officer to be an advocate for and represent the interests of members from a lower socio-economic background and to encourage a more representative membership. Working Class people often feel isolated and alongside disabled people, are the least represented social group within politics, including within the Labour Party.
This CLP Notes: The Social Mobility Commission’s State of the Nation 2016 report warns that Britain has a deep social mobility problem and that class inequalities are getting worse. The Social Mobility Commission also states that from childhood “through to universities
and the workplace, there is an entrenched and unbroken correlation between social
class and success”. The TUC has called for new legislation, or a ‘Class Act’ to make discrimination on the basis of class unlawful. They acknowledge that class discrimination is based on more than economic disadvantage and extends to overt and more subtle forms of discrimination, including at the cultural level. At least 20 European countries have implemented similar anti-discrimination laws and Australia also protects against class discrimination.
About 20% of Labour MPs overall are now BAME, which compares to 14% of the UK population as a whole. That is 1 in every 5 MPs – ten years ago that ratio was 1 in every 40 MPs. Over half of all Labour and LibDem MPs are now women for the first time in history. About 14% of Labour MPs (4.9% of MPs overall) are openly gay, which compares to 2.2% of the population as a whole who openly identify as being LGBT+.
Attention has now turned to disability representation, where roughly 22% of the UK population have a disability but less than 1% of MPs are disabled, having dropped from 7 in the 2017 intake to just 5 in 2019, some of the main barriers cited being the cost of standing (highlighting the significant overlap between being disabled and being poor) as a candidate and the lack of availability of a job-share option (which will also impact women/carers).
Research shows that as the Labour Party’s MPs have become increasingly drawn from the middle class, there has been a corresponding drop in working class voters who traditionally voted Labour now turning out to vote for any party at election time. Labour Party MPs are primarily drawn from professional and managerial backgrounds with only 3% or less being from routine and manual occupational backgrounds (this was 37% in 1951), yet within the UK those working in jobs classed as routine/manual comprise upwards of 30% of the population.
There has been a starkly disproportionate loss of life (as identified by the recent Public Health England Report ‘COVID-19: Review of disparities in risks and outcomes) and income (identified within the recent Marmot Report ‘Building Back Fairer’) amongst the working class as a result of austerity and the way that crises impact unfairly and most harshly on those already struggling as a result of the pandemic has become even more apparent within this crisis period.
The ongoing decline of political visibility and voice of the working class within any party means that it is vitally important that the Labour Party, traditionally thought of as the party of the working class, situates itself within struggling communities to offer hubs of support, to consult, to listen, to gather baseline data, to set targets and to report on progress against the baseline to members. It is un-democratic for the party to turn a blind eye to the political invisibility of this whole section of society and the lack of lived experience within leadership positions makes us and our policy platform less relevant and distanced from reality.
Social class inclusivity tends to either not be acknowledged or to appear last on the list of party literature concerning equalities. There is a need to not only recognise that unfair disadvantage and discrimination keep working class people away from engagement and visible leadership roles with our party at all levels, but that unfair advantage plays a part in this too, requiring a pro-active approach to enable those who are suppressed to begin to inhabit key spaces and reverse this trend. Realistically, the working class have all but disappeared from the party. We have recognised that pro-active responses were required with regards to race, gender and straight privilege and these statistics really ought to signal that it is time that we did so with regards social class and socio-economic exclusion.
A dedicated officer role could be the first step within the party toward a more receptive and pro-active approach to working class members’ experiences of political exclusion and to taking full account of the wealth of evidence that lays bare the economic and cultural barriers that need to be dismantled.
This officer role would ensure XXXX CLP is as working-class-inclusive as possible. At present there is no specific role within the whole of the party to ensure representation and support for members who suffer from financial difficulties, and to tackle the often culturally exclusionary experience of people from low socio-economic backgrounds. Within a socialist party this is unacceptable.
This CLP Believes: As with all liberation positions, it is important to have a person who identifies with and understands the interests of that subgroup to lead debate about issues that affect them. Such a position is urgently needed in the context of falling working class membership and representation within the party and politics overall and in light of the rejection by Red Wall seats in the 2019 election.
This CLP Resolves:
1. A similar definition of ‘working class’ to that found at the University of Manchester should be introduced for the proposed Eddisbury CLP Working Class Officer, whereby candidates must self-identify as working-class and be from a low-income background, a care leaver, the first in their family to go to university, or be living/raising children at or below the poverty line.
2. The duties of the officer will be:
a. To represent the interests of party members and community members from lower socio-economic backgrounds across Eddisbury.
b. To work closely in support of the Leader’s Champion for Poverty and Inequality ensuring that the socialist values of the Labour Party are rooted and embedded within low income communities across Eddisbury and opportunities for democratic participation and leadership are made more readily accessible and welcoming to working class residents.
c. To campaign and lobby the party in the interest of members from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
d. For the officer to chair a self-identifying network of people from low income backgrounds who are care leavers, the first in their family to go to university, or are living/raising a family at or below the poverty line.