Reports by the Runnymede Trust and CLASS suggest the ‘white working class’ label may potentially damage hopeful policies that will benefit the working classes
A rise in identity politics since Brexit has shown there is a serious division between socio-economic groups within the UK. With 59 per cent of white working class people voting to remain in the European Union, researchers state the white working class have more in common with those of ethnic minorities than those of the white upper or middle class.
The ‘white working class’ and BME nationals are limited by a lack of job availability, opportunities at school and in higher education. The difference in social and economic resources contributes to the growing differences in culture and opinion between the white working class and the white middle class.
A press release by the Runnymede Trust argued that the “government must take action to help all deprived communities”, to improve the “economic conditions of the white working class”.
Dr Faiza Shaheen, director of CLASS, has stated “the working class drove the leave vote which is now being used to justify an idea of ‘white self-interest’ which is simply a rebranding for prejudice and racism”. Dr Shaheen makes a clear point of wanting to pull white working class people from this new stereotype and focus more on low wages, the housing crisis and the cuts to our public healthcare service (NHS).
Dr Shaheen continues, arguing “the shared interests of the white and ethnic minority working class demands a new shared agenda is developed and a platform for joint action and mobilization”.
Dr Omar Khan of the Runnymede Trust has called on the Home Secretary Amber Rudd “to bring in the socio-economic duty of the Equality Act”, which alongside supporting economic growth outside London will benefit the future of the white working class.
In response, Dr Omar Khan has outlined that the Government needs to “not just help the poor, but target the need to overcome problems like the middle class taking unfair advantage, for example ensuring public services such as health and education better respond to and reflect middle class attitudes and preferences”.
The Policy Exchange, a research project in the UK has recently analysed the issues around the term ‘white working class’ and the authors, David Goodhard and Eric Kaufmann have told The Guardian following a survey that ‘racial self-interest’ is not the same as ‘racism’ and that white Britons have the right to defend white identity.
Critics claim the divides within the working class community have been influenced by recent political campaigns. Nigel Farage during the referendum claimed the white working class were less likely to get jobs due to immigrants taking their jobs. However academic research claims the entire working class population suffer from job insecurity lack of representation, citing an elite-dominated government as the main causes for socio-economic problems.