Why Labour supporters are turning against the poor

Like many on the left, my heart sank when I read yesterday that even Labour supporters are turning against the poor. According to a new study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Labour supporters believe that welfare recipients are undeserving and the majority now believe that the welfare state creates dependency. By heck, how times have changed.

The reaction from the left has been muted, but I thought the excellent A Very Public Sociologist blog explained the case with some eloquence this morning:

In a way, Labour people’s growing hostility to the less fortunate proves how successful divisive, dog-eat-dog policies and rhetoric can be. It also demonstrates the continued salience of class, albeit in a negative way. As appallingly crass it is, rubbish around the “squeezed middle”, “hard-working families/taxpayers”, and “strivers” does speak to large swathes of people. The public at large are being explicitly addressed as people who work while on Britain’s council estates, bajillions of others are idly living off their taxes. You have to work every hour you can send, while those on JSA or ESA get an income handed to them on a silver dish. It’s one class politics of envy card the Tories are never afraid to play because they know it resonates.

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