Despised: Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class – In Conversation with Paul Embery

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Despised: Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class – In Conversation with Paul Embery

6th January 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

The December 2019 General Election will go down as one of the most dramatic in postwar history. Shattering Labour’s ‘red wall’ of previously safe seats in working-class towns across the Midlands, Northern England, and Wales, Prime Minister Boris Johnson led the Conservatives to their largest parliamentary majority since 1987 – with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn leading his party to its worst general election result since 1935. The spectacular Tory breach of traditionally Labour-voting territory saw seats such as Leigh in Greater Manchester, Rother Valley in South Yorkshire, Blyth Valley in Northumberland, Bishop Auckland in County Durham, and Wrexham in North Wales, elect Conservative MPs for the first time. The modern-day Labour Party is one which wins London seats like Putney from the Conservatives, but now trails the Tories by over 14,000 votes in the former coal-mining constituency of Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire.

One of the leading Labour voices who warned the party of such electoral doom is Paul Embery. In his new book published by Polity, Despised: Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class, Paul provides an impassioned defence of the Labour’s communitarian traditions, and warns that further electoral disappointment is in store for the party if it continues down the path of radical identity politics and refuses to engage with traditional working-class concerns over issues such as immigration. The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you for a discussion with Paul, where we will tackle the main themes in his new book and consider what the future holds for centre-left patriotic thinking in the UK.



Paul Embery

Paul Embery has been a firefighter for over 20 years. He served on the Executive Council of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and has been a prominent pro-Brexit activist – both before and after the UK’s referendum on EU membership. This includes being the national organiser of Trade Unionists Against the EU campaign. Paul has been a member of the Labour Party since 1994 and is an active voice within the Blue Labour tendency. Many of his writings, including his new book Despised, focus on the growing disconnect between the working-class and the Left, caused by the latter’s embrace of liberal cosmopolitanism. Growing up in Dagenham in East London, Paul lists his heroes as Clement Attlee, John Maynard Keynes, George Orwell, and Lord Maurice Glasman.

In discussion with

Rakib Ehsan

Dr Rakib Ehsan is a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, sitting in both the Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism (CRT) and Centre on Social and Political Risk (CSPR). Having traditionally voted for the Labour Party and currently a member of Prospect trade union, he has authored articles for outlets such as The Telegraph and Sp!ked on the British contemporary Left’s fraying bonds with traditional working-class communities. His research expertise includes race relations and community cohesion in the UK.


6th January 2021
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


United Kingdom


Henry Jackson Society
+44 (0) 20 7340 4520


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