So I think it is important that we challenge one of the great myths about the rise of the right. We are constantly told that what is happening is a revolt of the white working class and that it is from them that most of the votes for the reactionary forces that are gathering around us are coming.
There is only one real problem with this truth. It isn't actually true. I've been looking at the New York Times exit poll figures again to make sure that my memory wasn't failing me. Clinton not only won 3 million more votes in total than Trump she also won a lot more of the votes of those earning less than $30,000 a year. The figures were 53% to 41% with the rest of those interviewed not saying. It was only when interviewers talked to people earning over $50,000 dollars a year that the numbers tipped in Trump's favour with 50% to 46%. In towns and cities with a population of over 50,000 the voters backed the Democrats 59% to 35%. In suburbs it was the other way round to the tune of 50% for Trump and 45% against and in small towns and rural areas it was even more extreme. There Trump won by 62% to 34%.
The data can be found here: ttps://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/08/us/politics/election-exit-polls.html
Put simply it was mainly the middle and upper classes who voted in Trump in the States and enough of the white working class were fooled into joining them. We shouldn't be entirely surprised. The far right in the 1930s had support from a large minority in the working class. But it had a lot more from the middle classes. One of the most frightening things about the Nazi Party is that it recruited a remarkably high proportion of engineers and many of them were amongst the keenest volunteers for the SS. Those same nice comfortable middle class people who voted in Adolph Hitler and kept quiet as he shipped off the Jews, the gypsies, the mentally ill, his political opponents and homosexuals were left after the war to explain to their children and grandchildren how it could have happened.
Thanks to their failure to do so there is a very strong strand in German society of middle class people who know how important it is to stand up against the first attempts to demonise one section of society and to make us all afraid of all those who are a bit different to us. In the States and in the UK we don't seem to have had quite such an effective inoculation against the disease.
The real danger right now is not coming from white working class racists in towns like Stoke on Trent. There are some. They are scary. But they are not the prime source of our worries. And there are plenty of decent working class folk in the most deprived of our towns who see straight through Farage and his like with ease. Many working class families have mixed with people from a wide range of backgrounds for their entire lives. They will happily use some language which would curl the hair of a middle class liberal. But they would also fight to the death to look after their mates whatever colour or religion they happen to belong to.
The real danger is polite middle class racism. It is those in the suburbs and small towns who have rarely mixed with a real Muslim family. Those sitting on the edge of our inner cities scared that immigrants are going to somehow wreck their lifestyle. So you could trace in the Brexit result the impact of immigration very clearly. Where there was none or very little voters were scared stiff of it and significant numbers of people voted to kick the buggers out. Where there had been generations of mixing and a genuinely multi-cultural society a lot of people were very comfortable with that. London, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Bristol all voted Remain because people were more concerned with the economic arguments than the fears that they were about to be inundated.
This means that the battle to defeat the reactionaries isn't just a battle in inner city areas like Stoke. Indeed it would not entirely surprise me if Mr Nutall got himself quite a bloody nose there - provided his statements on the NHS are widely publicised. The battle in the polite middle classes is going to be every bit as important.
It will help with this battle in the US that more women than men voted against Trump by 54% to 42%. It would be nice if that were also true of the UK but it isn't - more women were undecided but their votes were pretty much in line with the result of the referendum.
It will also help with the battle that the majority of young people on both sides of the pond didn't vote for the winners. It is worth reminding ourselves constantly that 60% of 18-24 year olds voted to Remain and only 20% for Leave. For those over 65 it was 60% to Leave and 34% for Remain.
This means that by the time the UK actually gets round to leaving the EU it is highly likely that a majority of living voters will have chosen Remain. Just as a 3million majority of US voters didn't want the embarrassment of Trump as their President.
It is, however, unwise to rely on that numerical support. Many of those opposed to the current reaction will do a lot more and will be protesting, sending messages on social media and crying out against the stupidities and the cruelties of what we are witnessing. I was on the march last night in Leeds and enjoyed seeing the enthusiasm of the fightback. Which is fine.
But it is not enough. Indeed it could even be counter-productive. The challenge now isn't to convince those who are already in agreement with us to shout loudly on the streets or on social media. The challenge is to convince those who are in disagreement with us and to get them to recognise the dangers of giving in to fear. There is an argument for saying that if you really want to help the fight against reaction then find a polite middle class person who is repeating the wisdom that we have too many immigrants and we can't possible cope and challenge their thinking.
The key source of the strength of the reactionary politics that is dominating a lot of the political landscape right now is too many nervous elderly middle class people who are afraid that the world is changing. If we want to stop them from wrecking our future we are going to have to work hard on persuading this section of the public that there is a more positive future. This cannot be done by shouting insults at them. The only way that works is to articulate a vision of the future that offers hope. That is why I continue to stress the importance of getting the UK at the forefront of the next industrial revolution by investing heavily in modern green technology.
Fear driven politics can only be beaten by hope driven politics.