By William Hallowell | Editor
Image credit: Steve Eason
Labour has abandoned its core voters; it is now the party for the London-centric middle-class elites, and Angela Rayner is the latest to prove it.
On Monday it was revealed that Labour's Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, claimed expenses on personalised Apple AirPod earphones worth £250 among various other Apple gadgets totalling £2100. In addition, she also claimed £1600 worth of first-class train tickets in expenses at the beginning of February. For any MP - regardless of party - this would seem completely absurd, but from a member of the Opposition it seems totally hypocritical and does nothing to combat current stigma surrounding Labour Party representation and the current leader: Remainer, Sir Keir Starmer.
Whilst in the context of the pandemic, a Labour MP's expenses seems trivial, but these claims highlight the fact that Labour doesn't represent its workers like it historically - and ideologically - should do. The party is too focused on the London-centric, champagne socialist, university-educated, Guardian-reading elite. Even Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader who prided himself on trying to be the man to bring a 'kinder, gentler politics' to the UK with the ambition to serve to working-class, was London-centric; his 2019 manifesto was London-centric. He promised to 'abolish' private schools, but if he had done that there would be nowhere for his party's politicians to send their children. Policies such as free broadband nationwide demonstrated how out of touch the party is with its core voters. Why would a family on the breadline be concerned with wifi when some parents have to choose between heating their children or feeding them? Whilst some parents have to make such devastating decisions, the MPs that supposedly represent them are travelling in snobbish first-class - are the rest of us to common for your £80,000 salary Ms Rayner?
This was the entire reason Labour lost so many votes to the Tories in the last election. Poor policies towards Brexit - drawn up by Sir Starmer himself - did absolutely nothing but confirm how out of touch they are. Corbyn underestimated the anti-Europe sentiment and he did not promise a full execution of the result of the referendum - as Boris Johnson put it, Corbyn offered 'dither and delay'; and so, many working-class voters turned to the Conservative Party, demolishing the Red Wall. Even Dennis Skinner lost his seat for Bolsover, a position he had so admirably held since 1970.
Only now as the Tories reportedly drift ahead in the polls has this invoked a wake-up call for Keir Starmer, who himself, is a Remainer. Labour MPs have expressed outrage at being told to maintain 'radio silence' on Brexit in regards to Mr Johnson's deal and Starmer has revealed plans to revitalise Labour as the party for patriotism - because it was the issue of sovereignty and national identity that drove so many let-down working-class voters to vote for Brexit and thus the Tories in 2019.
Simply, this is too little, too late. Why should Rayner need to claim expenses on items which to her must seem so trivial in cost? - and why do they need to be so expensive? What is the justification for buying branded, wireless earphones, when you could buy a £10 pair from the local supermarket? What is the justification for an MP having to travel first-class? If anything this is an abuse of power. The national average salary sits between £30,000-35,000. Ms Rayner is earning almost three times this amount, not to mention what her party may pay her in addition, and the public are supposed to believe she represents the poor? She pretentiously preaches against 'Tory scum', but she is in absolutely no position - being part of the middle-class elite herself - to represent the working-class, because she doesn't - and neither do very many other Labour MPs.
It is obvious that a political party is in dire straits when its yet-prove-himself-credible leader has to completely rebrand to a point that the party is unrecognisable to what it was under the previous leader - the man which Starmer unreservedly backed in the last election. You would have never seen Corbyn willingly appear with our Union Flag waving behind him, and despite Starmer wanting to make 'use' of veterans, Corbyn was so proudly anti-military.
At current time, Labour lacks decisive, credible leadership. When Starmer was elevated last April he was a credible Opposition and even potential threat to the Conservatives, but he appears to be getting worse and worse at showing direction for his party and holding the government to account.