First of all, I want to define what appropriation is. Normally it’s used in a racial context, and this article here sums up why people need to be so aware of oppression in our culture:
For the sake of this argument, I would adopt that description, with the view that those from lower socio-economic backgrounds are also socially, politically, and economically oppressed.
Next, I want to look at what’s happened politically in the UK recently. People were disillusioned with Labour; then they became disillusioned with the Lib Dems and then the Conservatives, so now there is a surge in people voting for UKIP and the Greens. And I largely think that’s good; anything that motivates people to care about issues is good. This has also motivated politicians to respond, not least because a large chunk of the new UKIP supporters are either far right former BNP voters (normally working class), or Labour voters who are fed up with a seemingly ineffective government and want someone who seems to put their priorities first (also a working class demographic). As this has lit a rocket under the backsides of the existing parties in this direction, there is suddenly a mad surge to try to rally the troops and get the working class vote back – from all parties.
Now traditionally the image is of Labour being the party for this demographic. They have always responded to the needs of the working class, and despite Ed Miliband’s move away from the trade union links their policies generally try to cater towards this group. A summary of why they’re having a nightmare doing so in general is found here:
but also it’s worth noting that because they already catered to the working classes and were losing their vote, they’re now trying to copy what successful groups are doing – i.e. UKIP – i.e. scapegoating immigrants.
The Lib Dems were counting on the student vote before the last election, which they spectacularly managed to lose with the tuition fee situation. I’m amazed anyone can even take them seriously as a party so I’m not going to say any more there really.
The Conservatives however have really outdone themselves this time.
After the Emily Thornberry situation (Labour politician who mocked a house with a white van and St George’s flag), Boris Johnson put something on social media about how Labour are out of touch with the working classes. Like a Tory politician from Eton (any of them, take your pick) really understands me and what I think. Note: having a pint and some chips does not mean you understand a socio-economic segment.
What offends me about this whole scenario, is not that everyone is spouting misguided policies and damaging lies, I’ve come to expect that from UK politics. It’s that everyone has suddenly realised the working classes CARE, and are having a say, and it’s really scaring them, so they’re going for pints in pubs and scapegoating immigrants and praising white van drivers in such a patronising way then wondering why they aren’t getting thousands of new supporters.
The working class is suddenly the place to be, like when Pulp sang “you want to do whatever common people do, because you thing that poor is cool”. Regardless of any issues around gentrification which I’m not even touching on, the fact is that taking a whole group of people and pretending to care about their issues is absolutely appalling if, as I would assume of many of these parties, you aren’t going to then actually cater to their best interests when it comes to it.
I’m not claiming that just because someone went to a state school and works full time they can’t make an informed decision on who to vote for, or else well how would I ever manage to vote. I’m claiming that that is what these politicians seem to think, and they’re adopting superfluous symbols of this culture, symbols that denote survival, or community, or tradition, or just something a group of people likes that another traditionally doesn’t, and they’re trying their hardest to identify with it but without ever straying from being a white, male, Eton-educated Cambridge graduate.