Heard the one about the working-class stand-up comic proud to be a... ...

It is December 12, 2019, and I’m at Riverside TV studios in London, waiting to take part in Channel 4’s Alternative Election Night broadcast. It feels like a gathering point for the so-called ‘metropolitan elite’. If Remainer Central were a stop on the District Line, everyone would get off here. As a working-class Conservative, I once again find myself in the wrong ‘neighbourhood’.

Boris and the Conservatives have won – and in style. There has been a huge swing to the Right from working-class voters, especially in the North. Many of us have been predicting this for a while, but not even I expected such a seismic lurch.

I should be elated but somehow I’m not. The night has been yet another experience of feeling politically isolated. Given my background and a job in the performing arts, it’s obvious to everyone I meet that I should be Labour through and through. I’m a comedian who grew up on a council estate with two disabled parents. My dad was a big trades union man.

Yet now I vote Tory. And here I am at the beating heart of Labour luvviedom, having got into bed with the so-called enemy. How did it get to this – for Labour and for me?

In truth, I should probably have been a Conservative all along. I still have a picture of me playing football in the street aged 11 or 12. It’s important, not just because I’m attached to the past but because this was the photo that made me realise what I really looked like to the world. Shabby clothes. Cheap, badly fitting trousers. Humiliating knock-off jacket. Scruffy football. I wanted better.

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Yet now I vote Tory. And here I am at the beating heart of Labour luvviedom, having got into bed with the so-called enemy. How did it get to this – for Labour and for me?

Yet now I vote Tory. And here I am at the beating heart of Labour luvviedom, having got into bed with the so-called enemy. How did it get to this – for Labour and for me?

Born in 1976, I’d grown up on rough estates in South-West London. I remember a childhood engulfed in cigarette smoke. At family meals, a ‘fag break’ would be called between every course. Once we’d paid for fags and booze, there wasn’t much left for luxuries.

MY parents had been unfortunate in life – Dad had lost an arm in a motorcycle accident and Mum had never quite recovered from being brought up in council care.

They weren’t without aspiration, although real progress seemed for ever out of reach.

Dad was a skilled draughtsman for BT and a proud union official. He had the South London Del Boy spirit of the time but instead of selling moody stereos, Dad saw the greasy pole to union top brass as his way out. He didn’t just like the power and the money that came with the union – he was attracted to the lifestyle. Unions looked after their own, and Dad enjoyed being at fancy hotels for meetings and conferences.

I wonder if part of my outlook comes from those early experiences of lavish union weekends. Even aged eight, it struck me that the hotel they’d put us in was exceptionally fancy. I was sure we could do it without four-poster beds and bar tab.

The day they ‘bombed’ Dad from the position he’d worked so hard to achieve is burned into my memory. What happened in detail, I still don’t know. But I do know that Dad felt he had been betrayed and cheated out of the job that really mattered to him. He’d once sang ‘You don’t get me, I’m part of the union’, but in the end it was the union who ‘got’ him.

In truth, I should probably have been a Conservative all along. I still have a picture of me playing football in the street aged 11 or 12. It’s important, not just because I’m attached to the past but because this was the photo that made me realise what I really looked like to the world

In truth, I should probably have been a Conservative all along. I still have a picture of me playing football in the street aged 11 or 12. It’s important, not just because I’m attached to the past but because this was the photo that made me realise what I really looked like to the world

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However else you might describe us, we weren’t Conservative. When Margaret Thatcher came on the telly, Mum would use the kind of swear words usually deployed when you stand on a piece of Lego. But Dad’s treatment by the union was a straw in the wind. And looking back, there were others. When you work out your place on the political dial, you can reflect on your early life and see it was there all along.

Take the trendy teaching at my first secondary school, Southfields. We did two hours of ‘world studies’ one day, where a couple of the teachers got together and let the kids ‘go where their instincts took them’. The instinct of most of kids was to stab each other with a compass.

One year, we didn’t do any of the national sports: football, cricket, rugby. We did, though, do an indoor sport called ‘unihoc’ which I’ve never heard of since.

Later, thanks to Mum, I got a place at Rutlish School in Merton, which still had echoes of its grammar school past, including a speech day – to which, one year, its most famous old boy was invited. It’s fair to say that John Major surprised all of the teachers by charming their Leftie pants right off them. He surprised me, too. Most people thought the Tories ‘don’t give a toss about normal people’. So it was a thrill for the Prime Minister to be a working-class guy from my actual school.

Another factor that changed my outlook was the benefits system – and its abuse. It still resonates with me today. Anyone who has lived on a council estate gives a wry smile when the liberal classes try to claim that benefit fraud is no big deal.

I knew how the system could be worked, because we’d done it.

And when the Tories made an issue of households where no one had worked for generations, it struck another chord. I was still at school when, with my older sister, I started to worry that Mum was gravitating towards the non-working end of council-estate life.

She’d previously done administrative work for a

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