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‘Really annoyed me!’ Leave voters were targeted ‘as stupid or under-educated or bigoted’


The assault came from David Skelton, who argues a “new snobbery” has taken hold in some progressive circles. Rather than being based purely on traditional class divides, this is instead targeted at less-educated voters who reject “wokism” and “identity politics”.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Skelton said this is even more “insidious” than traditional snobbery as it “questions people’s ability to participate in the democratic process”.

He claimed he regularly heard Brexit voters “described as stupid or under-educated or bigoted”, which “really annoying for me, because these are my friends, these are my family who are anything but bigoted and the very opposite of it”.

Mr Skelton is the author of ‘The New Snobbery’, in which he argues there is a new dividing line between progressives, who are “generally wealthier and better educated”, and the traditional working class.

Originally from the north-east of England, he saw his home constituency turn Conservative in 2019 as Labour’s “red wall” collapsed.

During his BBC interview, Mr Skelton suggested the 2016 Brexit vote was a key moment in the new political divide.

He said: “Working-class voters in places like Consett, places in the North East and Yorkshire, the Midlands – post-industrial places that had been long forgotten, just flexed their muscles for the first time.

“The response, I thought, was really disheartening.”

Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016, by 52 percent of the vote to 48 percent.

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Mr Skelton commented: “I felt that the status quo in both parties had rather taken for granted, rather ignored, the kind of people I went to school with – and the kind of people who, before the phrase became commonplace, were being ‘left behind’ by politicians of both parties.”

The realignment continued in May, when the Tories won the Hartlepool by-election, taking a traditionally Labour seat with over 50 percent of the vote.

They also won scores of council seats across the north and midlands of England.

Mr Skelton said there had been “a change in mindset and certainly a change in rhetoric” within the Conservatives under Boris Johnson leadership.

However, he warned “a lasting change can only happen if working-class voters become central to everything the [Tory] party says and does.

The author added the Conservatives must be careful not to lose their new supporters, motivated in part by dislike of the “new snobbery”.

He argued: “Frankly, the Tories are not going to have a majority of 80 for long if they don’t deliver for the voters who brought about that majority in the first place.

“These voters are patient, but they don’t have endless reserves of patience.”

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