‘We don’t exist for them, do we?’: why working-class people voted for Brexit

‘We don’t exist for them, do we?’: why working-class people voted for Brexit

Estimated reading time: ten minutes

Lisa Mckenzie

Estimated reading time: ten full minutes

Working-class everyone was more prone to vote for Brexit. Lisa Mckenzie (Middlesex University) takes problem because of the idea why these individuals were ‘turkeys voting for Christmas’. They saw Brexit, with the uncertainties it could bring, instead of the status quo. Austerity and de-industrialisation has brought a heavy toll on working-class communities – one which the middle-class usually does not grasp.

It’s 22 2016 june. I’m sat in a cafГ© within the East End of London with two neighborhood ladies, ‘Sally’ – that is 23, has two small kids, and has now Rhode Island title and loan been in the council home waiting list for four years, along side over 19,000 other folks – and Anne, that is inside her sixties and calls herself a ‘proper Eastender’. Her kiddies and grandchildren had recently relocated out from the area and into Essex due to the not enough a home that is affordable. It’s the afternoon prior to the EU referendum, so we are dealing with most of the politics of this day, including footballer David Beckham’s present intervention within the debate: he’s got recently announced their support for the stay campaign. The ladies aren’t delighted. The discussion goes:

‘What has that **** Beckham got to state concerning this?’

‘He hasn’t ever surely got to concern yourself with where he could be likely to live, unless it’s which house.’

‘Well him and Posh can get and live where they desire if they want, it is not similar for people, I’ve been homeless now for just two years.’

‘We don’t exist for them, do we?’

‘Well many of us ******* who don’t exist are voting out tomorrow’.

Prior to the referendum, I had been dealing with a combined group of neighborhood working-class both women and men in London’s East End as an element of ‘The Great British Class Survey’ in the LSE. I have gathered hundreds of stories about working-class life within the last few four years within the East End, and thousands during the last 12 years. These tiny stories can usually appear unrelated to your big governmental debates for the time, in the event that you don’t realize the context for them. As a woman that is working-class we appreciate the art of storytelling: i understand that a tale is not simply a tale. It really is employed by working-class visitors to explain who they really are, where they arrive from, and where they belong. These little tales are way too frequently missed in wider governmental analysis in favor of macro styles, that has frequently meant that the poorest individuals in the united kingdom get unrepresented.

Waxwork David and Victoria Beckham at Madame Tussauds. Picture: Cesar Pics with a CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence

Fortunately – as an ethnographer, a working-class educational, the child of the Nottinghamshire striking miner, and hosiery factory worker (and I also have actually resided in council housing for some of my entire life) – I rarely concentrate on the macro. My entire life and might work is rooted within working-class communities; my focus and my politics are about exposing those inequalities which can be hidden to a lot of, but stay in ordinary sight.

Having gathered these narratives since 2005, we knew different things ended up being taking place round the referendum. The debates in bars, cafes, nail pubs, plus the hairdressers in working-class communities seemed infectious. Everyone was interested, and argued concerning the finer points associated with EU, but additionally made wider points about where energy rested in the UK, links that are making the 2. Nonetheless, for some class that is working like ‘Sally’ in addition to other females, the debates had been centred upon the constant challenge of the very own life, and additionally they connected those battles for their moms’ and grandmothers’ hardships, but in addition for their children’s future. They saw hope that is little life would be fairer for them. The referendum had been a switching point for the ladies in eastern London. That they had perhaps not voted into the 2015 General Election: that they had small interest or faith in a governmental system seated just three miles away whenever their day-to-day and instant situation required attention that is constant. When ‘Sally’ told me she would definitely make use of her vote when it comes to very first time to go out of, we asked her if she thought things would change for the higher when we had been to Brexit. She stated she didn’t understand, and didn’t care. She simply couldn’t stay things being the exact same.

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