Lammy warns of cultural divide in Labour party

David Lammy claims party is adrift from core supporters. Picture: PA

David Lammy claims party is adrift from core supporters. Picture: PA

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A SENIOR Labour backbencher has warned that the party is “culturally adrift” from its own core supporters in the wake of a snobbery row.

London mayoral hopeful and former universities minister David Lammy said politicians from “liberal, professional backgrounds” found it hard to identify with ordinary working people.

The intervention comes as Ed Miliband struggles to draw a line under the furore that forced Emily Thornberry’s resignation last week.

The shadow attorney general had tweeted a picture of a house covered with three St George flags, and a white van parked outside. The image, taken while she was campaigning for the by-election in Rochester and Strood, was widely interpreted as sneering at the family who lived there. Labour came third in the contest and victor Ukip is threatening to make inroads into the party’s traditional heartlands elsewhere.

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But in a newspaper article, former universities minister Mr Lammy stressed that Mrs Thornberry’s tweet was merely a symptom.

“The Labour Party feels culturally adrift, not just from large parts of Britain, but from its own traditional working class base,” he wrote. “Large parts of the country feel that Labour not only disagrees with them, they think we disapprove of them too.

“A sense of mutual disdain between the mainstream parties and working class England is driving voters away from politics, or towards so-called ‘anti-politics’ parties such as Ukip.”

Mr Lammy – who grew up on a council estate close to Tottenham’s infamous Broadwater Farm – argues that Labour’s “discomfort hinges on immigration”.

“By and large, modern Labour politicians come from liberal, professional backgrounds,” he wrote.

“They have benefited from globalisation – they mix in social circles with people who work in multinational firms, enjoy foreign travel and find diversity enriching.”

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