Less left-wing infantilism, please Mr Pilger, more analysis

John Pilger should really stop spending day-trips visiting the working classes. Like other (mainly male) middle-class writers before him, Orwell being the most obvious example, Pilger is so anxious to illustrate his working-class solidarity and obtain entry to the "gang" that any sense of political analysis deserts him. On his latest visit to a Labour heartlands theme park (24 July), Pilger takes it upon himself to be the articulator of the striking voters. The reason for the withdrawal of the vote, he claims, is a mixture of helplessness in the face of the social and economic collapse of the local area and the alien nature of the new Labour government. The remedy? Anarchy. I would like to pose an alternative reading of the situation, one based more on analysis than left-wing infantilism.

Proposition one. The so-called Labour heartlands consisted of the monopoly of one industry on communities that were based upon a largely educationally unqualified but relatively well-paid male workforce. This workforce, due to the power of the trade unions, who were anxious to exclude other workers, especially women, managed to keep the wages relatively high until the late 1970s.

Proposition two. The Labour vote in these areas was given because the Labour Party, the political representation of the unions, was seen to be "on their side". It was a contract: the vote was given in exchange for the surety of the continuation of secure male employment and accompanying female dependency which formed the basis of the community. It was an act mostly of economic self-interest with very little commitment to democratic socialist ideals of social equality.

Proposition three. The few jobs open to women in these areas have always been in low-paid sweatshops, but this was never a concern for the "boys" of the Labour heartlands.

Proposition four. The resentment of Tony Blair is based on old-fashioned inverted snobbery. He is a middle-class toff (rather like Pilger) who (unlike Pilger) does not take his holidays among the picturesque proletariat. How has he "let them down"? Presumably by not being able or willing to return them to 1945, 1964, or even 1970.

Proposition five. Considering that the redistribution of wealth over the past two years has been the greatest since 1945, could there just possibly be other reasons for the continuing existence of the poverty gap in Britain? Regional uneven development, lack of educational opportunities, lack of cultural capital, depression and passivity, social and geographic immobility, are some that spring to mind.

Conclusion. Political choices abound; however, the choice not to vote (and lay waste to Starbucks instead) could result in a future Hague administration that will be xenophobic, racist and sexist, homophobic, anti-democratic and deeply reactionary - a representation of much of the traditional culture of Labour heartlands.

Anthea Symonds