I was siting there with two middle class, university & public school educated affluent lefties discussing why the working class was abandoning Labour. One, that being the Mrs, opined that it was because they liked voting for Toffs, that is to say Boris. This was a theory of one of her colleagues in the world of sociology. The other, daughter Olaf, did not dissent. Such is the state of denial among the British left.
I mentioned the victories of Wilson and Attlee over Tories who were for more aristocratic than the arriviste Boris Johnson but the truth is that the leaders, the voices, of the British left in the political and media world are almost all university educated middle class folks who now openly despise the values of the working class, if not the working class itself. And the working class has twigged that and will not be taken for granted going forward.
This thesis is explained wonderfully by a working class, non university educated socialist Paul Embery, a fireman, in a book published last year, “Despised: Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class” which is a terrific read and something you really should give as a Christmas present to any middle-class lefties with whom you are friends.
The weekend saw another clear demonstration of the alienation of the modern left from the values of those it is meant to represent as Charlotte Nicholls, the MP for Warrington North – pro tem – celebrated the fact that she could go shopping on Saturday afternoon and enjoy shorter queues because of Prince Philip’s funeral. Ms Nichols will portray herself as working class, she was born in Romford and her dad Ged worked as a trades union official having started on the shop floor at 16.
I do not doubt that Ged was working class but, as it happens, he has been a senior union official for many years and is now general secretary of his Union raking in more than £140,000 a year. His daughter went to University (Liverpool) and then went to work as a Union official, i.e. a well paid administrator. She has not actually spent even a day at the actual coalface. From there it was Parliament aged 29 when she managed to reduce the Labour vote in Warrington by 12.2% but clung on with a majority over the Tories of just 1,509.
So like the Toffs of a bygone era Charlotte has not actually done a day’s actual work in her life and is now telling we dirty oiks who do actually have proper jobs how to live our lives. And she is now in the second generation of her family earning enough to be in the top 2% of earners. Does that really make you working class (to rhyme with ass not arse)? I’d suggest not but in the upper echelons of the modern Labour Party it is about as close as you get.
On Saturday, 13 million folks watched the funeral of Prince Philip. Many millions more paid tribute to this war hero who served this country for 70 years, and I write as a Republican, by observing a minute’s silence. It was just the decent thing to do and most working folk display that basic decency when it comes to funerals. They would certainly not publicly express their joy at being able to shop because there was a funeral on with tearful friends and relatives burying a loved one. Showing respect for the dead in this way is a traditional working class value. Nicholls despises such values which suggests she may well despise those in Warrington who she is meant to serve but who also hold such values.
Nicholls, a bisexual who is the shadow Minister for Women & Equalities so opines on identity politics on a daily basis is in so many ways a poster girl for the Modern left in Britain. Of course this is not new. Orwell wrote about people like Nicholls in the Road to Wigan Pier but the Labour party of old was a true mix of classes. It is not today. Here is Orwell from the 1930s.
“The first thing that must strike any outside observer is that Socialism, in its developed form is a theory confined entirely to the middle classes. The typical Socialist is not, as tremulous old ladies imagine, a ferocious-looking working man with greasy overalls and a raucous voice. He is either a youthful snob-Bolshevik who in five years time will quite probably have made a wealthy marriage and been converted to Roman Catholicism; or, still more typically, a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaller and often with vegetarian leanings, with a history of Nonconformity behind him, and, above all, with a social position which he has no intention of forfeiting.
One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.
To this you have got to add the ugly fact that most middle-class Socialists, while theoretically pining for a class-less society, cling like glue to their miserable fragments of social prestige. I remember my sensations of horror on first attending an I.L.P. branch meeting in London. (It might have been rather different in the North, where the bourgeoisie are less thickly scattered.) Are these mingy little beasts, I thought, the champions of the working class? For every person there, male and female, bore the worst stigmata of sniffish middle-class superiority. If a real working man, a miner dirty from the pit, for instance, had suddenly walked into their midst, they would have been embarrassed, angry, and disgusted; some, I should think, would have fled holding their noses. You can see the same tendency in Socialist literature, which, even when it is not openly written de haut en bos, is always completely removed from the working class in idiom and manner of thought.”
Ring any bells Charlotte, sweetie?