Following on from my last blog about triangulating relationships, here's a question: Does the Labour party think of the people it represents mainly as victims, and itself as their rescuer? I thought of this on reading a Guardian article published recently: “More than half of UK’s black children live in poverty, analysis shows” (link to article at the bottom) the results of research conducted by the Labour Party into child poverty in the UK.
I had to get to the seventh paragraph to find the section that seemed most important to me. Worth repeating here as I’m a fairly typical Guardian reader — female, white, aged 60, left-leaning, privileged background, believe in social democracy.
“In 2019-20 4.3 million children were living in households in poverty. They accounted for 31% of the UK’s 14 million children.”
Read it again. Of ALL children and young adults (under the age of 19 and still in education), 31% live in poverty. But the article lead from the top with the far worse problems for some of the children in the whole group. Yes, it is important to look at the breakdown within ethnic groups and it is distressing to know how much worse it is for some. But are they the victims of cruel Britain (the Tories)? Is Labour going to charge in, a knight on a white horse, and rescue them? Nanny is Here! To the Rescue!
The mental health of the Labour party will improve if it stops thinking of itself as the rescuer of victims. Build a more level playing field. Understand that some people have not yet realised their potential, and think of them as creators. Then act like a good coach (instead of rescuer). Help the creators to become valuable members of society who contribute to themselves and to the common good. Think of the Conservatives as challengers (not as persecutors) who question the assumption that the state should always act as the parent or rescuer of the poor.
Back to the research conducted by Labour and reported by the Guardian. Levels of poverty within ethnic groups are important to recognise. But it could also be a reinforcement for people living in poverty as feeling like victims. Too bad, I’m black. I’m 60% likely to be poor. And on the other side, Phew! Glad I’m white, only 26% chance of being poor. Meanwhile, on top of the pile, I’m Chinese. I’m 12% likely to be poor. I’m definitely one up! (Perhaps Labour could be asking the Chinese people who live in the UK why they think are so successful at avoiding poverty? Is it because they are largely stoical? Don't think. Take action. Find honour in the daily effort?)
By over focusing on diversity and the victimhood of some sectors in society Labour is losing itself in the good feelings of being a rescuer. And the Guardian is perhaps feeding into the same narrative.
© Alison Hackett 21 Jan 2022
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Alison Hackett — Director and founder of 21st Century Renaissance; author of The Visual Time Traveller 500 Years of History, Art and Science in 100 Unique Designs