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The ‘white Working Classes’: Layabouts Or Not?

Posted on the 30 November 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

The ‘white working classes’: Layabouts or not?

Working class: increasingly disconnected? Photocredit: welovepandas

Are the “white working class” a load of whinging, whining layabouts? The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has released a report, compiled by a Professor in Community Cohesion, which claims that they feel that they need to be looked more kindly upon by the state. The report comes at the same time that a video of a white woman hurling racist abuse on a tram went viral.

The report interviewed people in Birmingham, Coventry and London, and found that they felt unconnected to political processes; especially that they couldn’t express opinion for fear of being thought “racist”. Commentators are divided: the working classes should just get on with it, say some; they have real issues, say others.

“They are all Asian at the council – it’s like no one can understand us. It’s hard, a joke round here, I hate it,” said  a woman from Aston, quoted on The Huffington Post.

“For example, I’m a writer, and I’m white, but I would never consent to the identity ‘white writer’. I’ve met countless people who proudly call themselves ‘working-class’, but never ‘white working-class’. Working-class communities also tend to be far more ethnically mixed than middle-class areas – and, particularly somewhere like London, lots of cultural mixing takes place. In lots of ways, ‘white working-class’ is an imposed label.” Owen Jones, author of Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Classes, quoted on The Huffington Post.

Get on with it! The Rowntree report’s left out part of the story, said Steve Doughty in The Daily Mail. There’s been a “guilt complex” on the left, as Labour’s “heartlands” felt they’d been betrayed by a “well-heeled meritocracy” that opened the door to immigration. But the fact is, there aren’t really any old working class communities any more – loads of them educated their young and shoved off to the suburbs. The ones who stayed beyond were let down: by union leaders; they forgabout about churches, chapels, choirs, brass bands, pubs; they lost a good education when grammar schools were abolished; they lost their sense of family life. Many now choose “benefits over work.” Immigrants, on the other hand, want to work, and that’s why businesses don’t want to lose them. What would should be doing is not handing out state money with “more ‘transparency’”; we should be telling our “disaffected” whites to “get a job.”

No, listen to them. Are the white working classes even being heard? asked Christina Patterson in The Independent. We fund initiatives against Muslim extremists; we fund Asian women’s centres, mosques, council-funded festivals for Diwali and Eid, but not Advent or Easter; hardly anything goes into “community projects” used by white local residents. The white local residents have a point. They have been let down. The middle classes aren’t “disrupted by mass immigration”; they don’t have to compete with immigrants. They’ve been let down by the fact that’s more sensible “not to work than to work.” But the Government doesn’t seem worried about the bottom of society. Immigrants continue to flow in. And “if the white working classes are feeling worried about the future, maybe that’s because it’s looking extremely grim.”

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