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ABCs and class August 24, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with Ed Rooksby’s broader analysis here on Jacobin of Brexit from closer to the referendum, and I admit I tend to the former, he makes an excellent point in relation to polling, that:

…occupational category measures of social stratification do not operate on the basis of a Marxist understanding of class. Indeed, as Charlie Hore points out:

AB includes 25 percent of the population, including key groups of workers who have been in struggle recently — teachers, nurses, doctors and other health professions — and, in fact, most trade union members.
Charlie Hore’s piece, on SocialistWorker.org no less, particularly good at analysing the problems implicit in using ABCDE occupational categories.

And Rooksby notes too that:

In addition, the DE figures are skewed by the fact that this category includes pensioners (some rich, some poor), among whom there was a large turnout.

Conor McCabe amongst others has pointed out that using ABCDE categories, which are essentially categories devised for advertisers is, at best, problematic as a means of understanding class structures in contemporary society and potentially very misleading.

Given the preponderance of polls in this era – particularly during and since the economic crisis, and the manner in which they are used to support x, y or z obviously this underlines the point that they should be treated with extreme caution, particularly when used as instruments to determine ‘class’ positions.


1. John Connor - August 24, 2016

Interesting article in Jacobin.

The point about the ABCDE categories is dead right – there’s an old joke about the Ds and the Es being the “do not exists” which sums it up!

Also interesting is the point In the article about age rather than class being the major determinant of the Leave vote in the UK.

This is certainly the most coherent account I’ve read of the vote, even though the data seems to have come from Lord Ashcroft.

It still doesn’t really explain the ideas which drove the vote to leave, but the fact that the older voters may have swung things makes me wonder if a big motivation may not have been a desire to return to the “great British” days of the past.

Irish peopl generally see the EU as a modernising force, while I suspect that a lot of older Brits especially see it as undermining their role as a “global power”.

This prompts the question: will there be a pro-EU majority in the U K when the older voters die off?


WorldbyStorm - August 24, 2016

Yeah, I thought it was pretty good John. Like Ben I tend to the view the only option is a reapplication. But will it happen? Give it ten years…


2. benmadigan - August 24, 2016

“will there be a pro-EU majority in the U K when the older voters die off?” If so, there will be nothing for the UK to do except re-apply for admission.
At present the UK’s options are either a “hard” or a “soft” brexit and the advantages appear to lie with a “hard” exit – no triggering of art 50, just say the UK’s left. It’s a risky strategy and what could happen to Scotland and Ireland in those circumstances doesn’t bear thinking about.



3. FergusD - August 25, 2016

The best comment in that Jacobin article:

“Besides, we don’t hope for salvation from above. Our primary focus has to be on mobilization from below.”

Some in Labour, even Corbyn supporters, need to absorb that. Some seem to regard Brexit as a huge cataclysm that must be reversed and then all will be well. Clearly not. Indeed the EU is in crisis itself, contained at the moment, but for how long?

I wasn’t a Lexiter BTW.


WorldbyStorm - August 25, 2016

I would very strongly agree with you in regard to that. Firstly Brexit has to occur, that is the UK leaves the EU as a member of same. That doesn’t mean an EEA/EFTA style relationship or some bespoke arrangement is out if the questiod but the referendum result demands that the central point be honoured and all the faffing about talking about delays or blocking it is simply wrong and pointless. However once out and a decade has passed, at least, I think.the possibility of rejoining is legitimate in the context of a further referendum. That though id for the future. But there’s also a pressing need to carve out exemptions etc in the new relationship between UK and EU particularly in relation to this island.

I think those in the BLP would be better served accepting the reality of Brexit but attempting to forge different relationships with thecEU (perhaps partnerships) to save or retain the good rather than try to stymie it. That said I do also think it is perfectly legitimate to point up where and when Brexit is screwing stuff up too. Indeed from a left perspective I’d think that essential.


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