Labour must create 'jobs for the boys', warns Brown aide
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Friday 06 April 2012
A former aide to Gordon Brown has warned that Labour will not regain power until it offers hope and jobs to a generation of young men who have turned their backs on the party.
Kirsty McNeill, one of Mr Brown's closest advisers while he was Prime Minister, said the previous Labour government's emphasis on enabling more women to enter the workplace meant that it had neglected young men.
Although she described herself as a "Labour feminist", Ms McNeill said: "The preoccupation of both Tory strategists and Labour feminists with women voters can't disguise Labour's challenge: we've got man trouble."
Challenging the widely held view in Labour circles that the "women's vote" wins elections, Ms McNeill warned: "We didn't lose the 2010 election because we haemorrhaged women's support, but because we didn't turn out enough women to counteract our decline with men."
In an article for Fabian Review magazine to be published next week, Ms McNeill said: "While Labour was relatively quick to understand and shape the policy imperatives around women's accelerating entry to the workplace, we were far too slow to grasp... the way in which globalisation and the decline of collective bargaining [had] changed the nature of masculinity at work.
"Traditional 'male' jobs, characterised by skill, status and stability, have broadly disappeared: work in mines, yards and plants has been replaced with high-turnover, insecure, service industry jobs for which boys compete with the girls who outperformed them at school and outnumbered them at college."
Ms McNeill said that although higher employment levels among women raised household incomes during Labour's years in power, the gains were wiped out by male wage stagnation and unemployment, which "left a generation of men – Labour's men – behind".
She warned: "We won't bring home the political goods until we are comfortable talking about jobs for the boys."
Recalling that Labour began as a working man's party, she said its traditional goal of male employment should lead to Labour's next majority by "bringing men back home" to the party.
Ms McNeill, now a consultant, suggested that Labour should also refine its message to women. "While female voters consistently put immigration and crime in their top five concerns, feminist staples like pornography and women's imprisonment simply don't get a polling look in," she warned.
Labour figures believe the party's "man trouble" was a big factor in its surprise defeat in last week's Bradford West by-election. Andrew Harrop, general secretary of the Fabian Society, said: "George Galloway's unexpected triumph proved that Labour cannot take the votes of low-income men for granted. Labour needs to listen to what they have to say and come up with fresh ideas and a different tone of voice to address the social and economic dislocation highlighted by Kirsty McNeill."
Jeremy Paxman reveals he has heard senior Tories calling activists 'swivel-eyed loons'
Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
X marks the spot: The find that could rewrite Australian history
'There are empty spaces where there used to be living rooms, bedrooms, classrooms': President Barack Obama says America is praying for Oklahoma in wake of tornado that claimed 24 lives
- 1 'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
- 2 Austerity has hardened the nation's heart
- 3 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 4 Why Arsène Wenger must spend to put icing on the cake and buy likes of Stevan Jovetic for Arsenal
- 5 'It was just like the movie Twister': Man survives Oklahoma tornado by taking refuge in horse stall
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£26000 - £33000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: We are currently recruiting newly qu...
Negotiable: Progressive Recruitment: Dear Sumadhab, A growing engineering comp...
£53000 - £58000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: Assistant Headteacher - S...