As the despised white working class voters desert the party, Labour's media cheerleaders suddenly get all contrite. Jonathan Freedland :
It's like the habitual wife-beater who suddenly discovers, when the little woman's packing the suitcase, how much he really, really loves her.
The reason the BNP won two seats in Europe was not because their vote went up - it didn't - but because Labour's went down. The white working class, what used to be called the core vote, stayed away. Vast stretches of the English cities, as well as Wales and Scotland, are now Labour's broken heartland.Those voters have to be won back. If Labour waits till after the next general election it will be too late.
It will have to do what - and it pains me to write it - the BNP does: listening to people who have been taken for granted for too long. "They felt forgotten," admits one senior cabinet minister. "There's no John Reid, no David Blunkett. Apart from Alan Johnson, there's not a working-class person in the cabinet any more."
"Never again, I mean it ! I promise I'll be good !"
Of course, they did listen to the working class. Then they called the white ones racists.
I never warmed to Tony Blair's "respect" agenda, with its Asbo-centric view of young people. Sunday's results have forced me to acknowledge its value. Blair's emphasis on low-level crime showed that Labour understood how fly-tipping and dodgy neighbours can blight lives. It told those core voters that Labour was on their side - something they no longer believe.Oh, and they said they were being led by the nose by the tabloid agendas of the Sun and the Mail.
Last year, after the local government elections, I wrote an Election Roundup. I don't think it's aged too badly at all :
... outside of London the working class Labour heartlands are losing the tribal Labour votes. And once identification stops being tribal, it's difficult - if not impossible - to go back. I remember how I felt when I first walked into a booth to cast a Tory vote (2001 after voting Labour since 18). The first time is the hardest. I would still vote Labour again (if Frank Field led them!) but it'll never be a tribal thing again. My children haven't inherited the 'Labour are for people like us' culture that I was brought up on, either. Look at the collapse in the South Wales Valleys. Look at some of the places the BNP gained seats - Bedworth, Rotherham, Stoke. These aren't Tories switching votes. Look at the performance of the Barrow in Furness People's Party. Labour's contempt for the working class - over immigration, the smoking ban, pensions, the 10p tax rate, crime - is at last being returned with interest.