Young Owen meets the democratic problem

All rather amusing from Owen Jones here. He notes that the Labour Party isn't in fact the working classes en masse it is in fact drippingly right on middle classes deciding what would be good for the hoi polloi. The membership among the AB classes is higher than their representation in the population - and lower among the working classes. Not that anyone who both reads The Guardian and has also talked to an actual working class person would be unaware of this difference.

More interestingly, he comes up against the basic problem of expressed and revealed preferences:

Why is this an obstacle to becoming a social movement? The idea of leftwing middle-class professionals descending en masse on working-class communities to campaign at election time is fraught with issues, mostly arising from contrasting experiences and different priorities and outlooks. But this is merely a hypothetical problem because it simply isn’t happening. Political rallies may brim with enthusiasm, as do many local party meetings when it comes to debates about the party leadership. But some constituency Labour parties have grown three-fold yet experienced little or no increase in door-knocking; some even report a decline. When it comes to campaigning, Labour has a very large paper membership. There is a clear danger of it being reduced to voting fodder and a source of funds.

If Labour is to have a future, that has to change. A mass membership offers immense potential that, as of yet, is untapped. Labour needs to adopt a strategy – led by trade unions – to recruit and give leadership positions to underrepresented working-class people, particularly in the north, whether they work in supermarkets or call centres. There needs to be a concerted effort by long-standing experienced members to get new members to knock on doors.

People will say they want all sorts of things. But when you ask them to actually do those things they become less keen. And thus a rather basic concept in economics - don't look at what people say, look at what they do. If people aren't prepared to spend a few evenings door knocking in pursuit of greater equality then they don't think that greater equality is very important. On the simple grounds that if working for greater equality is worth less than watching reruns of the Royle Family then greater equality is, when it comes down to it, less important to people than reruns of the Royle Family.

Oh well, shrug, that's just what people think important. And we are supposed to be running this whole show so as to maximise what people actually do think is important, not what the urban intelligentsia think they should find important. Something which is even true of a party that claims to represent the working classes.....whether it's dominated by that urban intelligentsia or not.