It is good that Frank Field and other Labourites know they are losing the working class. His explanation, however, could scarcely be more wrong.
A manual worker of my acquaintance in in the North West explained that she lives next door to a woman on disability benefits (the woman is perfectly mobile) who gets a new car from the State every three years. My acquaintance and her husband both work. They have no hope of having a new car - ever. They feel foolish that they work and their neighbour laughs at them. They are paying for their neighbour's car, which - to their mind - is why they can't hope to afford their own. It's too simple an analysis of course, but the grain of truth in it hurts.
They have sought to improve their humble home but their estate agent tells them they have wasted their time and money. Their many neighbours living idly on benefits have reduced the reputation of the neighbourhood so that that no-one will buy. The whole district has been colonised, in effect, by wasters. The Devil finds work for all those idle hands and - being too lazy to travel far to steal - they prey on their neighbours, so that crime is rife. They are living behind enemy lines - and their enemies are the beloved clients of the Socialist State, rewarded for evil at every turn.
Her husband has given up on working overtime at weekends because after tax it's a waste of effort. He is beginning to lose faith that there is any benefit in effort. He is drawn to the dark side of an idle life on benefits with free cars etc. His wife is a good woman who is holding fast to an unjustified faith in work and self-reliance. What hope for the next generation in the face of such lessons? By all objective analysis, though I admire her resolute stance, she is wrong. She should abandon herself to idleness, the faster to make the whole vile system fall.
The Labour Party used to stand for workers' education and self-advancement. It now stands for idleness and degradation. The Conservative Party, meanwhile, has taken a vow of silence for fear of being castigated for supposed "nastiness".
None of this has anything to do with race, by the way. This saga is set in a Northern county town, not an old mill town. The ethnic minorities are not the issue. Where they are perceived to be, of course, the whole story can take on a much nastier, darker, aspect.
Much more than the miserable, whingeing, envious, intellectually-weak, middle classes who are all too happy to find a sinecure with the State, the traditional working classes respect self-reliance. They know that all "help" from the State comes at a price, like the Salvation Army cup of tea and bun that comes with obligatory hymn-singing.
They know that, in the end, the idea that anyone but yourself and your loved ones will look after you is total bullshit. Every day they live with the evil that is being generated by a system that punishes effort and rewards idleness. They can't comfort themselves with Polly Toynbee's half-witted clap-trap in the mornings because - unlike her - they can see the truth through the windows of their humble homes.
Telegraph | Opinion | Why Labour is losing the working class