Class Or Culture: The “Marginalised” White Working Class.

  • June 17, 2013 · 6:30 PM
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Kate Green MP has agreed to host a meeting in the House of Commons on the marginalization of the working class in society over the last two to three decades - and that was documented so well in Owen Jones book “Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class.”

Much debate has gone on over how we give a voice to marginalised communities so their voice is heard in the public square but many from right and left believe that in this the white working class has been neglected. Reports from both Rowntree and Runnymede have addressed this issue.

To what extent are white working-class communities a forgotten group disconnected from policy and politics and in our quest for a diverse and inclusive society have we neglected this group and at what cost? Speaking at this meeting will be

Kate Green MP is currently shadow spokesperson for Equalities and prior to her election was Chief Executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, and before that Director of the National Council for One Parent Families (now Gingerbread). She is a long standing campaigner against poverty and inequality and chairs the all-party parliamentary group on poverty.

Harris Beider is Professor in Community Cohesion at iCoCo moving from the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) at the University of Birmingham.   His main research interests include 'race', housing and community renewal. He has managed and undertaken research projects for CLG, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and wrote their report on the “White Working Class. Views of Neighbourhood, Cohesion and Change.”

Gillian Evans studied social anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies In 2006, Gillian published “ Educational Failure and Working Class White Children in Britain”, based on her PhD research about the post-industrial docklands of Southeast London. The book generated national debate about the position of the white working classes in Britain, and Gillian went on to publish further work about the relationship between social class, race, ethnicity and multiculturalism in Britain.

Can economics alone deliver cohesion or do we need to develop a deeper understanding of identity and diversity in order to develop effective policies that include all?   This will be the central theme of this meeting.

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  • P.Selvaratnam

    I've just bumped into this:
    BBC’s Simpson unites ANC and DA over the future of South Africa’s white population
    http://commonwealth-opinion.blogs.sas.ac.uk/2013/bbcs-simpson-unites-anc-and-da-over-the-future-of-south-africas-white-population/#more-75

    June 20, 2013

  • ray k.

    Community and solidarity, part of the problem? Powerful incentives not to be different. All Parties are the same and want to keep them down and exploit them and they are all in it together; breaking ranks is strongly discouraged. There is a lack of resources in WWC areas. True but if we make parts of the population dependent on the state we can never meet demand. Surely radical change needed. Nothing will work unless we spread wealth, income and status more evenly. It will take a huge amount of effort and resources to bring about any significant improvement. If the UK wants to correct the marginalisation of the WWC we need to re-educate them to join the rest of us as members of society. We have the tools. T Blair said “We are all middle class now.” Shame he was wrong. Perhaps the UK needs to organise the enormous resources available to it to bring that state about.

    June 19, 2013

  • Neil M.

    Part C: Above all we should all collectively celebrate, cherish and promote the achievements and contributions of Britain’s white working class citizens’ past and present. Thank you.
    With Kind Regards,
    Neil Mukherjee.

    June 18, 2013

  • Neil M.

    Part B: My recommendations are that the working class youth and adults of today’s Britain will most benefit from re-exploring their cultural heritage and they will also need to reconnect with their aspirations towards achievement. They will also however, need to adapt to the needs and demands of 21st Century Britain and a modern globalised World. This can be achieved by the political parties providing not by just equal opportunities but by also providing Equal Cultural Opportunities for today’s working class as well as actively encouraging the people of today’s multiracial diverse Britain to both acknowledge and recognise the long history of the white working class people in Britain, not just for the past 10, 20, 30 years but for the past centuries at the least and in doing so we will need to get a better understanding of their struggles through the many years that have gone by up till today’s present.

    June 18, 2013

  • Neil M.

    Part A: In the 1980’s Britain’s white working class and the poor were able to aspire to better themselves and achieve through a period of social mobility by making money, getting into business, buying their own homes as well as having a cultural voice that became prominent in the music and TV industries of that time. However, since the 1990’s the integration process between the working class poor with the recent settlers from abroad along with their UK born families was not encouraged. As a result the integration process did not materialise and it failed during these years both under John Major’s Government from 1990 to 1997 and again under Tony Blair’s Government from 1997 onwards. This was one such reason that has led to the marginalisation of the white working class because the aspirations and the culture of the white working class was no longer encouraged to grow and they were unable to actively participate in a modern diverse society.

    June 18, 2013

  • P.Selvaratnam

    excellent

    June 17, 2013

    • Jonathan S.

      . I mentioned the contrasts of say Leicester where differing communities have lived in relative harmony, and East Anglia, especially the areas dependent on agriculture and food processing factories - these are the areas where fear of marginalisation is highest. It is also the sort of areas where UKIP have a ready audience. The fears in these communities are not being addressed and there is considerable conflict in many of the towns in that area. The anti fascist group Hope not Hate is however holding meetings in many of these towns with the hope of ameliorating the situation and an essential part of that must be through community leaders getting together. This "marginalisation"­ is unlike that of the failure to move into skill through loss of traditional labour intensive work.

      June 18, 2013

    • Jonathan S.

      I t is the labour intensive nature of the work (especially in crop management) that makes it (cost wise), cheaper than bringing in very specialised and expensive machinery to replace this labour. We have cheap food through cheap willing labour. My own view is that until the notion of a living wage is made legal then thei fears will simply grow; this is so for the move towards anti- europe and imposed minimum wages is the prevailing political pressure. Ironically UKIP will go along with this and in that sense it is not in the interests of the white workers to vote for them (though we should say local labour the issue does not devolve into a colour issue).
      Very important issues here, but so little time to talk them over. I feel the excellent speakers gave a good sense of structure.

      June 18, 2013

  • MJY (Michael Y.

    Thank you for an interesting, if wide, discussion, led by a powerful panel of speakers of whom I found Dr Gillian Evans particularly impressive. But where do we go from here?

    June 18, 2013

  • Ed

    Replyto Andrea. Ran out of space, but essentially the counter-point, or perhaps better counter-argument, refers to communication of alternative strategies to those put forward to UKIP, such as to persuade those who find their argument(s) initially persuasive, that there is a better alternative. If there is one. I found it very interesting that it was Kate Green who raised the UKIP issue - an indication, albeit in a sample of one, of the degree to which their influence has shaken the two-party establishment, not least of which because it adds a degree of uncertainty to electoral outcomes where the source of the vote (new, ex-Labour, ex-Conservative, ex-Liberal) is largely speculative, and apparently geographically variable.
    New political parties arise where the mainstream parties fail to engage with a part of the electorate. Some will be marginal (BNP, Greens) appealing to special interest groups and will be unlikely to become mainstream. The size of UKIP's penetration is indicative.

    June 18, 2013

  • Senake A.

    An informative and positive event. Lots of starting points for potential solutions and thought provoking questions were asked. WWC well represented.

    June 18, 2013

  • Senake A.

    Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to read Owen Jones's book as yet, but ahead of tomorrow's discussion, I decided to have a look at some reviews of it here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1844678644/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#RMPTCB22O494Q

    One review concluded "Well paid secure jobs are the answer says the author. Maybe, but where are these jobs going to come from? This is the hard part. This discussion is worthy of a book itself and not just a chapter."

    This is a topic that I have covered in depth in my book - Compopoly - and with global pressures, I don't believe that jobs or education are enough to solve these problems. So what is?

    I believe that we need to reduce risk and thus anxiety. If you want to know how, do please have a FREE 'Look Inside' Compopoly here and let me know what you think - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Compopoly-ebook/dp/B007WUM70W/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1371397012&sr=1-1

    1 · June 16, 2013

    • Andria

      This does everything to create fertile ground for increased crime, marginalisation and conflict in various ways...one that comes to mind is the infighting that goes on over drug-selling "turfs" in a no of UK Cities. This rarely gets spoken of as drug-related but scratch the surface, ask the cops or research it and often U find it is so..Impoverished communities accessing £$£$ by selling illegal drugs and then being persecuted and demonised AGAIN for this..Much more to write but time for rest now:-)

      June 18, 2013

    • Andria

      Oh, just one more thing: I really enjoyed the discussion at Portcullis House earlier. There was hope there in the various suggestions of attenders about organising and buying locally, not to mention mentoring and understanding that actually aspirations of youth are not declining albeit the culture clashes are rife.

      June 18, 2013

  • Ed

    Always enjoyable but this particular debate was somehow a little disjointed. Some good points made though, and it is always interesting to hear in person from those who govern - or in this case would like to govern - us. And the views of other highly qualified speakers. Personally, I think the failure of education to teach people about how to manage their lives - reading and writing, communications skills, dealing with employment, financial management etc. - is core to the problem, and more use needs to be made of mentors, particularly for disaffected young men. The Sunday Times referred to this, last Sunday. We also need to get away from the concept of "de-industrialisation" being "The Tories fault". It was going to happen whoever was in power. UKIP, demonstrably shaking the main parties, and this is no bad thing. They may lack the depth to deliver, but the key issue is that the counter-point (where there is one) has not been convincingly presented.

    1 · June 18, 2013

    • Andria

      The counterpoint has not been well-represented; sorry, what exactly do U mean?

      June 18, 2013

  • terence f.

    wide ranging and informative presentations and discussions. Time well spent.

    June 17, 2013

  • Neil M.

    Apologies for being unable to attend. Hope you all have a productive discussion. Regards, Neil.

    June 17, 2013

  • Giselle

    Sorry, not well...

    June 17, 2013

  • Ed

    In reply to Ms. Selvaratnum. I am not sue this is the place to debate Sri Lanka at this time - important as it may be to you. From an earlier meeting it was confirmed that much aid is wasted. In any event, it is not sensible to spend overseas where we have needs in this country. For example, the NHS "cannot afford" the treatment I (and others) need to prevent the crippling progression of Dupuytren's disease - even though the later stage costs will be hugely in excess of the cost of prevention. The proven treatment to prevent progression of the disease to severe pain as well as disablement is routine in The States and Germany, amongst other places. It is NICE approved, incidentally, just not funded by some, not all NHS regions, a lack of joined-up thinking if ever there was one. We need to take care of our own, first. And that includes dealing with the growing issues of a "White underclass".

    1 · June 17, 2013

    • P.Selvaratnam

      Ed

      June 17, 2013

    • P.Selvaratnam

      Ed, Thank you. My intention was how to find fund for dealing with the issue of ''White working class'' - I admit I didn't put it in an effective way but too drawn-out. All of you, pl pardon me.

      June 17, 2013

  • Rebecca

    Sorry, first day new job...

    June 17, 2013

  • Tom S.

    Can't now make this.

    June 17, 2013

  • P.Selvaratnam

    What is worse than the war has been the last four years of army of occupation of the North and the miserable life of IDPs:
    http://www.hrw.org/asia/sri-lanka/
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/sri-lanka
    http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/asia/south-asia/sri-lanka.aspx
    http://www.icj.org/country/asia-pacific/south-asia/sri-lanka/

    So, how worried is the government about the plight of white working class?

    June 17, 2013

  • P.Selvaratnam

    When the genocidal war(according to UN report the casualty was about 40,000 in the first five months of 2009) was raging in 2008/9 the western world helped Sri Lanka to decimate the armed rebels because Sri Lanka promised to devolve political power to the Tamils after the war was over. In the last four years since the end of the war, the government has been postponing the elections for Northern Province (where Tamils are concentrated - it's their traditional homeland). Now the government proposes to dilute the 13th Amendment that has the Provincial councils as units of devolved power though 13A itself has been giving only very weak devolution of power. The Commonwealth sanctioned South Africa but all of them are going to have a nice party in SriLanka in November.

    June 17, 2013

  • P.Selvaratnam

    Very many ethnic majority Sinhalese told Lessons Learnt Reconciliation Commission(LLRC) in 2010 how the ethnic minorities have been oppressed from the time of independence till today. Sri Lankans were surprised that the govt released the report in late 2011, though reluctantly. But it hasn't started implementing the recommendations though UNHRC resolutions in March 2012 and March 2013 asked Sri Lanka to implement LLRC. Ohhh, the govt appointed two PR firms and told the parliament in April that it doesn't concur with UNHRC resolution !!!

    June 17, 2013

  • P.Selvaratnam

    If a policeman inappropriately stops and questions a citizen, the whole of Britain is chaotic. But when the Sri lankan policeman salutes a criminal and ignores many other criminals who are the President's allies, the aid-giving British is doing nothing. Prime Minister Cameron is going to attend CHOGM2013 in Sri Lanka in November in spite of the request by Foreign Affairs Committee to lay down conditions for attending the meeting. Many others including the Association of Commonwealth Lawyers and Judges and many others have asked venue of CHOGM to be shifted out of SRi Lanka. Commonwealth leaders (who were reluctant to release the report of the reform of the Commonwealth before CHOGM2011 started and released it only in the late stages - that is also due to pressure from fringe meetings don't care about human rights violations except the Canadian Prime Minister:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/141656813/Why-the-Venue-of-CHOGM2013-Should-Be-Shifted-Out-of-Sri-Lanka-1

    June 17, 2013

  • P.Selvaratnam

    Many recipients continue to violate human rights atrociously while receiving aid - donors don't ask question and are harming the recipient societies.
    Is it much easier to throw away some money than to challenge the human rights violators?????
    While SriLanka receives UK funding, it refuses to release the reports on murders, corruption, abductions, disappearances in addition to stopping investigation into murders:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/85007346/A-List-of-Commissions-of-Inquiry-and-Committees-Appointed-by-the-Government-of-Sri-Lanka-2006-%E2%80%93-2012

    June 17, 2013

  • P.Selvaratnam

    Senake Atureliya
    ''Developed'' world has been giving ''aid'' to ''developing'' world for more than half a century. Little good effect. Lot of HARM. Without thinking they're still ''giving'' irrespective of the horrendous harm they're doing in most cases. As I'm one (Tamil from Sri Lanka) out of millions of victims of continuing conflict-insensitive aid I've been attending numerous meetings on aid in the House of Commons Committee Rooms, Portcullis, ODI, LSE, UCL, .... to find out what they're up to. I've been meetig Africans, Asians and South Americans who say ''Don't give us aid, but give us loans if we ask for''.
    Some British people out of ''emotions'' cry ''GIVE AID to the poor'' without analysing why most of them are poor.
    There is plenty of evidence it's mainly due to wrong governance (discrimination creating conflict, corruption - both in plenty in Sri Lanka). I'm taking Sri Lanka as an example. But there are very many cases more.

    June 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Very popular review of chavs (my mum was working class, btw), giving a good precis
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R3PLTABGKO4O9X/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R3PLTABGKO4O9X

    1 · May 31, 2013

    • Harsha P.

      Thank you Stella, that's helpful in advance of this evening.

      June 17, 2013

  • Senake A.

    P.Selvaratnam - Just to respond to you comment "parents must start spending more time with the children", I agree that they should, but we need to incentivise them to do this. So that they can compete in the increasingly global jobs marketplace, even the professional employed 'middle classes' are already sacrificing their children's childhoods to compete with the Chinese and South Koreans. Many working class people don't think that they stand any chance of competing. This link - http://voicesofyouth.org/posts/student-suicides-in-south-korea - shows that this isn't the solution. To reverse this race to the bottom, we need to free up their time adults and their children's time, then put in environments where they learn by doing things - ideally which directly benefit them. Just as DIY and customising cars are regarded as enjoyable pastimes today, high tech product development and programming need to become the pastimes of tomorrow.

    A Compopoly would achieve this objective...

    June 16, 2013

    • P.Selvaratnam

      South Korean parents and UK white working class parents are polar opposites in spending time with their children and expectations. What I'm saying is about only UK working class white parents. Many immigrant parents expect highly of their children and sacrifice themselves towards educating their children.

      1 · June 17, 2013

    • Senake A.

      I agree that parents need to spend more time with their parents, but the question that you need to answer is how we make that happen. Currently commercial structures mean that the focus is on getting parents and children to watch advertisements, buy products and in-game purchases. I was making the point that globalisation substantially increases the competition and that in the case of even those nations that are in the lead academically, life isn't all that great for 'job seekers'.

      Pull - as opposed to push education is part of the solution - as are more achievable, more frequent tastes of the rewards that can be achieved by gaining knowledge and adding value.

      June 17, 2013

  • P.Selvaratnam

    That means we have to cut down on our luxuries too. We are going to see more unemployment with advanced Science and Technology and increasing population. scientists have been saying for many decades that only altruism can save mankind.

    June 16, 2013

  • P.Selvaratnam

    I am in favour of sharing employment. People may start reducing their number of days or hours per day of work to share with unemployed people. Employment gives psychological boost to parents (and others) who are very likely to become better parents.

    June 16, 2013

  • P.Selvaratnam

    As I undertook weekend courses in Counselling and Psychology went to work in Special schools also. I found senior teachers of Special education without any training in basic Counselling or Psychology.
    We have some very good Educational Psychologists who should be running the Special schools.
    Many Comprehensive schools don't let pupils take textbooks home. All Grammar school children are allowed to take textbooks home. There there I'm outraged with Tony Blair for not scrapping the Grammar school system.
    Now parents must start spending more time with the children and less time at bars. They must play with their children. It isn't money that the children need - certainly they need healthy balanced food and a reasonably good accomodation. Getting the children addicted to fatty, unhealthy food must be avoided. These can all be helped by Primary school teams, if needs be. Further Education Colleges, General Practitioners and nurses can also be teamed together as needs be.

    June 16, 2013

  • P.Selvaratnam

    I was a supply teacher in many Primary and Secondary schools for 20yrs in many parts of London, Kent and Essex.
    I am sorry for many of the white working class children because their parents and most of their teachers have low expectations for these children.
    Teachers can make a difference if they have better training. There are some very good teachers. But we need more good teachers. I have come across many senior teachers who don't even know that there are professional bodies in their subject areas which shocked me.
    I have met Heads of Science and Maths who didn't know about the Association of Science Education or the Association of Maths Education (I was a Science/Maths teacher).
    I have even met Deputy Headteachers who didn't know about the Association of Personal and Social Education - most deputy headteachers are also heads of personal and social education.

    June 16, 2013

  • Fiona W.

    Sorry - had to change my plan.

    June 16, 2013

  • brian

    Sorry I will not be able to attend,but for some reason a black vertical area has appeared on the RHS of my Meetup pages so I cannot alter the page,maybe I've been hacked?

    June 16, 2013

  • P.Selvaratnam

    urgently needed discussion

    June 16, 2013

  • ANA R.

    no sorry cant do this one

    June 16, 2013

  • Neil M.

    Part 3.
    Instead the working class have been sectioned to a state of depravation. I am a Progressive Conservative from humble backgrounds; I am not an Elitist Conservative and the difference between me and my elitist counterparts is that I believe in giving the impoverished and the working class a helping hand up the ladder of success towards achievement. In short, we should redefine the class system by getting those who are in power to either uplift the poor and working classes to a better standard of existence and self worth or they should change professions and immerse themselves into the livelihood of how a working class or poor family in 21st C Britain, survives.
    End.

    June 8, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      empowerment stems from education because it yields confidence, the kind of confidence that brings on assertion and success, rather than marginalisation...margin­alisation could be easily replaced by being listened to...

      1 · June 16, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      but then again, just because somebody is not formally educated, it does not mean that they should not be listened to, or said yes to...their assertions should matter...yes

      1 · June 16, 2013

  • Harsha P.

    Author of "Chavs", Owen Jones is appearing on BBC Sunday Politics Show at 11am this morn.

    1 · June 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry; unfortunately I now find that I can't attend. Damn; looks like a good one.

    June 15, 2013

  • Caroline L.

    Am interested to hear what the white working class have to say about this problem which is a problem.

    June 15, 2013

  • Mark R.

    Well, I'd like to come, but I live a fair way from London, but would love to be able to join in via the web, if that's at all possible.
    I grew up in this culture, and I'd really be so interested in participating in some form.

    June 12, 2013

  • Neil M.

    Part 2.
    What the British working class and the poor need is knowledge and access to this knowledge but we see through the passage of time that all forms of creature comforts are being given away as a consolation prize but the poor and working classes are really looked down upon as underachievers.

    The education system is not built to make everyone come up through its system. It is built to suppress the working class by limiting their options and shifting them to a culture of hopelessness. Some make it through and make fairly good money, others turn to despair.

    Encouraging the promotion of the lottery system and the betting shops make more and more poor people believe that their fate is with the lucky numbers, never has there been a proper system which has given the working class hope to achieve and better themselves.
    Contd. to Part 3.

    1 · June 8, 2013

  • Neil M.

    Time after time, year after year the British indigenous working class have been forsaken by our ruling classes. So much so, that the British working classes have been left to their own devices. Instead what we have seen is a global shift towards globalised conservatism to keep the rich and powerful in their long term positions of power.

    As a result we have seen not just the British working class been forced to live a culture of dependency but we are also witnessing people from all the traditional classes being pushed down to the levels of sub poverty as they are trapped under the net of unchecked consumerism whereby every person is parting with their money for a supposed sense of belonging and security but the system fails to empower the poor and the British working class.
    Contd. to part 2.

    1 · June 8, 2013

  • Jonathan S.

    Philosophical interests in identity and political action and the present position of the labour party.

    June 7, 2013

  • Julian C.

    Was the 'Thatcher Room' chosen deliberately for this debate? 'The greengrocer philosophy' - Seems a little ironic, n'est pas?

    June 5, 2013

  • Chris.

    can we have a range of views expressed not just paid professionals....not very democratic.I come from a white working class background and know the issues and how the equality/diversity agenda has excluded the indigenous poor english...can i be part of the panel please.

    June 4, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I agree with Chris too.

      June 4, 2013

  • Chris.

    then again you have Runnymede paying for it...is that democratic?Will there be a rainbow of opinions expressed or just a room full of polite professionals agreeing with eachother....echoing the same old diversity mantras back to eachother?

    June 4, 2013

  • Ed

    Slightly confusing, as says "Needs a location" at the same time as being in the Houses of Parliament??? Also states later that it is a "Webinar"

    May 31, 2013

  • Porsche

    May not be able to make this; will this be recorded?

    May 26, 2013

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