DespisedWhy the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class
Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class
The typical contemporary Labour MP is almost certain to be a university-educated Europhile who is more comfortable in the leafy enclaves of north London than the party’s historic heartlands. As a result, Labour has become radically out of step with the culture and values of working-class Britain.

Drawing on his background as a firefighter and trade unionist from Dagenham, Paul Embery argues that this disconnect has been inevitable since the Left political establishment swallowed a poisonous brew of economic and social liberalism. They have come to despise traditional working-class values of patriotism, family and faith and instead embraced globalisation, rapid demographic change and a toxic, divisive brand of identity politics. Embery contends that the Left can only revive if it speaks once again to the priorities of working-class people by combining socialist economics with the cultural politics of belonging, place and community.

No one who wants to really understand why our politics has become so dysfunctional and what the Left can do to fix it can afford to miss this authentic, insightful and passionate book.
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  • January 2021
  • 216 pages
  • 143 x 219 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $64.95
  • 9781509539987
  • Paperback $22.95
  • 9781509539994
  • Open eBook $18.00
  • 9781509540006
About the Author
Paul Embery is a firefighter, trade union activist and prominent proponent of Blue Labour. He is a regular columnist for UnHerd.
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“Tony Blair once raged against ‘the forces of conservatism’, but Paul Embery reminds us that Labour, like its lost working class voters, has a history of social and cultural conservatism. If it wants to win back those lost voters, it will need to rediscover the conservatism that makes solidarity possible, and to do that its leaders should start by reading this hard-hitting and painfully honest book.”
Nick Timothy, author of Remaking One Nation: The Future of Conservatism, and Daily Telegraph columnist

“Lucid, angry and brave.”
The Mirror

“You probably won't agree with all of Mr. Embery's policy prescriptions, but he will force you to think outside your usual political grooves.”
Wall Street Journal

“There’s a lot here that Labour should take on board.”
The Glasgow Herald

“A polemic in the tradition of the Levellers, the Chartists and the trade union movement. Paul Embery’s brave book shows that Labour cannot win without the working class. The future of the left is a politics of people, place and belonging.”  
Adrian Pabst, Professor of Politics at the University of Kent and author of The Demons of Liberal Democracy

“Most voters lean left on economics and conservative on culture but no one represents them. Embery delivers a tight, passionately argued plea for the Left to rediscover its roots in social solidarity. Despised confirms Embery’s place as a leading force in the emerging left-conservative movement.”  
Eric Kaufmann, author of Whiteshift

“[Paul Embery] is one of the most interesting, insightful and original voices to have emerged in British journalism for some time.”
Douglas Murray, Spectator columnist, author of The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity

“Paul Embery is a gifted writer with political vision and great courage. This book tells the story of how Labour lost its way and can find it once more.”
Maurice Glasman

“For anyone who wants to see a Labour government again, read this book. It’s a bitter pill to swallow but it’s essential medicine for some parts of the Left if they are serious about renewing the bond with the people they were founded to represent.”
Gloria de Piero, former Labour MP for Ashfield

“Paul Embery has become a key witness to the death of blue-collar social democracy in Britain. In his home borough of Barking and Dagenham, and in British politics more generally, he describes how the combination of hyper-globalisation and identity politics turned working class politics upside down. Even if you are familiar with the critique of identity politics you should read this book, not only is it intellectually sharp but it is the account of someone who has experienced the change as a personal and collective tragedy.”
David Goodhart, author of The Road to Somewhere 

"Many on the left will hate this book and reject it wholesale. A more constructive approach would be one that engages with the arguments put forward by Paul Embery, a union activist and an authentic working class Dagenham voice."
Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham and Rainham

"Embery’s book deserves to be read by those on both sides of the political spectrum who are open to the prospect of a post-liberal society rooted in relationality, solidarity, and the common good."

"‘Despised: Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class’ is an incisive and thought-provoking examination of recent British political history… Anyone looking for a valuable summary of the changing nature of the left and the cultural and political divides in recent British history should add ‘Despised’ to their reading list."
Entertainment Focus

“fluent and passionate”
Times Literary Supplement
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