Again, nice ideas, but not getting it quite right!
First thing: THERE IS NO LEFT IN AMERICA! There never has been. There are the far right Democrats and the ultra-far right Republicans. As far as I can tell, the average US blue-collar worker has a political mindset somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun. These people like Trump because he is first and foremost a businessman -something they all long to be -and because he uses small words in short sentences to give simple answers to complex questions. Reagan did the same. That’s how you mobilise the working class in America, a country which, to reiterate, does not have and has never had a left-wing in its politics. Above all, a country which is too young (2–300 years is not history, it’s a week ago Thursday), to have any degree of real sophistication in either culture or politics.
In the UK it is, as it has always been, about class. Specifically, the middle class which the political elites had long taken as being representative of the whole population. Unsurprising, given that since the English Civil War, it is the middle classes who have striven most determinedly to force their ideas and ideologies on both the upper and working classes.
But the Labour Party was born out of the Trade Union movement, to be its political arm. The original intent was that all Labour MPs should be working class people who had worked on the shop floor and come up through their union. But by the middle of the 20th Century, the middle classes were becoming entrenched even here. Richard Crossman often spoke in his diaries of two types of Labour politician: the working-class Social Democrat Methodist who came out of the Unions and the middle-class Marxist atheist who came out of the Universities.
Now the working classes have not essentially changed. They remain left-wing economically, expecting the government to prioritise the welfare of everyone by intervention and regulation of industry and commerce: minimum wages and working conditions, free healthcare and education, public ownership of utilities and key industries. But socially, they tend to the right, seeing immigration as a threat to wages, jobs and conditions, believing in punishing criminals, including the death penalty, rather than ‘rehabilitation’, and of the opinion that gender politics, diversity and all the other ‘soft’ programmes dear to the middle-class left are secondary to the main aim of making sure everyone has a decent standard of living.
After decades of Thatcherite rule, the Trade Unions were in tatters and the Labour Party had been pulled first right, then left, then right again. The working classes, sick of this political kerb drill and the increasing gap between them and any of the political parties, gave up voting. Blair handed Labour overt to the middle classes and won a couple of elections -New Labour governments did a lot for women, LGBTQ and BAME people, but little or nothing for the working class. When the Tories got back in after the financial collapse, it was on the basis of ‘let’s try the other lot, shall we?’
You are right in saying that the issue that galvanised the working classes was Brexit. But you are wide of the mark in assuming that Farages’ demagoguery had anything to do with it. Farage put the fear of God into Tory centrists, and was a handy threat in the hands of the Tory right. But to the working classes he was just one more posh twat from down south, telling us what we should think. The working classes of Britain knew all about Europe. Every family among them has relatives and ancestors who died at the hands of Europeans. Not just in the early 20th Century, but all the way back to 1066. The French, the Spanis, the Dutch, the French again, then the Germans. Every war, every bit of death, destruction and misery that has happened to the British working classes has come out of Europe. The middle classes voted us into the Common Market, so the price of butter went up and we lost our New Zealand lamb. Suddenly, we weren’t allowed to trade with the Commonwealth any more. Now they’ve gone and made it that you can’t have a fag with your pint any more (not that many of them smoke these days, but it’s the principle of the thing). We’ve always hated Europe, and never really felt ourselves to be part of it. That’s why we voted for Brexit, and that’s why the Tories won this last election. We hate the Tories, but nobody else was prepared to take us out of the EU. The fact that Boris Johnson has no intention of leaving the EU in any real sense has escaped too many, I’m afraid.