Who is ‘working class’?

Bevan Foundation
NewsNovember 12th, 2018

Last Thursday, we welcomed Claire Ainsley, Executive Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, to Cardiff City Hall to talk about her new book ‘The new working class: How to win hearts, minds and votes’.

The majority of people still identify as working class. But no political party today can confidently claim to speak for working-class voters.

Based on the first systematic analysis of the political views of lower and middle-income voters in Wales, England and Scotland using the authoritative British Social Attitudes, Claire’s book proposes a policy agenda based on the priority issues of the new working class.

In her talk, Claire gave us an overview of the changes to Britain’s economy and society over the past forty years and talked us through what she considers to be the new working class:

“The new working class is diverse and multi-ethnic; it’s in every city, in every city, in every community. The political party that understands this and understands the concerns they have are the ones that will gain a majority in the next election.”

Claire summarised the four values that are universal across social classes: family, fairness, hard work and decency, all values which are extremely central to our work at the Bevan Foundation, and echoed our own concern that many people feel they have no voice. In her book, Claire makes recommendations for policies which are aligned to these values, such as a day one employment rights charter for all, incentivising businesses and employers to take on social responsibilities, and re-branding politicians as local representatives with no second jobs or perks.

Speaking during the following panel discussion, Bevan Foundation Director Victoria Winckler said:

“Claire has opened the discussion on class again. We’re experiencing first hand the remaking of social groups, and all parties have much to learn from her re-setting of the debate.”

Speaking about the book, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Packed with hard analysis and fresh policy ideas, Claire Ainsley’s book is a rallying cry for the new working class. Politicians of all parties should wake up and listen.”

Actor, writer and director Michael Sheen said:

“As we continue to feel our political and cultural ground shifting beneath us Claire Ainsley’s reframing of the debate is both illuminating and a stark warning.” 

The event was the first about the book in Wales since its UK launch, which attracted UK-wide coverage in the mainstream and political media.

We are extremely grateful to GMB for sponsoring the event.

The new working class: How to win hearts, minds and votes was published by Policy Press May 2018

ISBN 978-1447344186

Price: £12.99

More information can be found at: https://policypress.co.uk/the-new-working-class and www.newworkingclass.uk

To request a review copy please contact the publisher via [email protected] or phone 0117 954 5952.


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