How Labour's Redefining the Middle Class; ANALYSIS

Article excerpt

Byline: Edward Heathcoat Amory

IT was the phrase that Gordon Brown coined in his conference speech and repeated yesterday - 'the mainstream majority'.

But what does it mean? Clearly it is the Prime Minister's new tactic to spotlight his support for what have been traditionally described as the 'middle class'. Mr Brown said Labour offers a 'choice' between the 'mainstream majority' and the 'privileged few'.

By doing so, he has made a fundamental change in the popular understanding of who constitutes the middle class.

It will come as a surprise to millions of toprate taxpayers (who earn more than [pounds sterling]43,000 a year) that Labour no longer considers them to be in the category 'hard-working middle Britain' families but part of the country's rich.

This cynical political reclassification emerged on Tuesday when a senior Government source was asked how he felt about picking the pocket of Middle England.

The Prime Minister had announced plans to scrap middle-class tax breaks on childcare in order for the Government to pay for lowerincome voters to get ten free hours of childcare a week.

The Labour aide explained: 'It may come as news to you, but higher rate taxpayers are not on low or middle incomes.' This redefinition is a piece of social and economic engineering which allows Labour to throw money at its core support (union members and lower paid public sector employees) while claiming to help the 'squeezed middle'.

But this means that millions of workers, from teachers and police officers, to plumbers and nurses (who would normally define themself as lower-middle class) are now suddenly branded rich alongside bankers.

This huge section of the population who fall into the higher rate tax bracket has increased under New Labour - doubling to four million since Blair came to power in 1997. …