Suddenly, the talk at middle-class tables is less about Poppy's cello lessons and the simply divine Tuscan villa that Hugo has found: it is about bills, the credit crunch, banks collapsing, negative equity, repossessions, standing orders, school fees. The point is not that outright calamity has struck many people yet. It is that, for the first time in more than a decade, the chatterers fear it might.It is not just the middle-classes that are having these discussions now. All you have to do is listen to the conversations on buses in South-East London to realise that the situation is far worse for Brown. Those people that Blair wooed away from the Tories are undoubtedly going to be lost by Brown, his greater problem is that the traditional working-class are feeling that same pinch too, even with their tax credits, and allegedly better-off status that Brown boasts about.
Ministers are well aware of this change, and arguably slow decline, in faith with the Labour Party from those they consider their traditional vote. The Health minister Ivan Lewis has told the News of the World that Labour has become the party of the Establishment and it is failing ordinary people. When Thatcher won in 1979 and subsequent elections it was the ordinary people that voted for her. It won't really come down to class, it will come down to how people see their world, and it is not as rosey as the Government's statistics say it is.