The Working Class and Vote Leave

By Catherine Price

We have voted to leave the European Union and the Brexit side has won. For many working class people this vote was about more than the European Union. It was a chance to be heard when their voices had been lost. For me as a PhD student at university, I was torn between voting Leave and voting Remain. I am from a working-class family and I live in a working-class community. Growing up, I have experienced and witnessed many struggles and insecurities which working-class people face such as job insecurity, redundancy and worrying about paying the bills.

During a television report over the weekend it was mentioned that people were more likely to vote Remain if they had a passport and had recently visited a foreign country. For some working-class families travelling abroad is only a dream. There are greater concerns as to whether to put food on the table or buy the much needed pair of shoes for the children. You will not hear their voice on social media because they cannot afford laptops or tablets. To use the internet they travel to the local library. Of course, this depends on whether the local library is still open due to austerity cuts.

My home town was once a place of manufacturing. We had five factories employing around 5000 people. Today there are none and the jobs are gone. In their place stands a supermarket, luxury five bedroom homes and luxury retirement apartments. These job losses were never reported in the media. One of the most striking of these times was when the Rover Car Group went bankrupt in 2005. There was wide coverage of job losses at the Longbridge plant in Birmingham. In my home town, the jobs lost at the factory manufacturing car parts for Rover went unnoticed, as did those from the haulage company.

Our small town has always been ethnically diverse and as a community we have always pulled together. However, many people here will have voted Leave. For our region, 63.1% voted Leave and 36.9% voted Remain. Immigration appears to be the main rhetoric used by the media to describe why the working-class voted Leave. For some this may be true but it is unfair to classify everyone as having this sentiment. The majority of the working-class voted Leave because they have had no representatives to listen to them for a long period of time. Their day to day struggles have gone unnoticed. They are not worried about Brexit damaging “our successful economy” because they have not been part of it. The slogan ‘Take Back Control’ used by the Leave Campaign resonated. By voting Leave they have finally had their voice heard.

There are many challenges facing us now, not least the Government having to re-unite the Country and leading it into an uncertain future. There also needs to be recognition of the huge failures which led to the situation of Brexit.

Catherine Price is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick. She tweets at @gmnewsphd1.

Originally posted 28th June 2018

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