Class Does Matter – And Should 148


The media and political classes like to tell us that we are now a classless society. Class should no longer be a factor in politics. Measures aimed at fairness are a sign of “the politics of envy”. Everybody should realise that fatcat bankers stashing away their £100 million pa incomes in tax havens magically benefit everybody.

Yet of course class does exist and really does matter. For a lesson in class in Britain I only have to walk out of leaf lined Whitehall Gardens, down the hill and into the South Acton estate. Four hundred yards but an entirely different world. With entirely different voting patterns, too. Class remains an important factor in the election. The working class – much of which has no prospect of work – still clings to New Labour.

Not only does class matter, it is more rigid than ever. The UK has the lowest social mobility of any developed country.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/07705fb8-2fd3-11df-9153-00144feabdc0.html

It also has the biggest gap between rich and poor of any developed country except the United States. The gap between wealth and poor grew larger under New Labour at an accelerating rate. In fact we are catching the US up, and the wealth gap under New Labour grew much faster than under Thatcher, indeed at the fastest rate since it has been possible to measure it. When Mandelson said he was “Extremely relaxed about the filthy rich” he really meant it. The government’s enslavement to the city, deregulation and worship of Mammon has had spectacular ill results.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/mar/10/is-social-mobility-dead

This lack of social mobility is a product of social attitude as much as structure. Anybody who has moved around the higher echelons of the City and of government will know that there is a nexus of family, school, and Oxbridge college relationships that greases the path of commercial and political transaction. Similar systems work in every country, but it is stronger here. To get the finance for my African project, I used the services of a man whose entire value was that he was at Oxford, a minor aristocrat, dines at the Wolseley and knows everybody. He could get me in the door of the merchant banks and seen at decision making level. He had no other qualification and had never done any succesful business himself. He lives off introduction fees. Others are able to make better use of their opportunities but I tell the story to illustrate a simple truth about this country. It is who you know that counts.

With such a huge wealth gap and with almost no social mobility, class resentment in the UK is not just natural, it is needed. The irony is that it is the Conservatives who are set to suffer and New Labour to benefit. The only desire of the New Labour leadership was to insert themselves into the gilded circle – into which Blair was anyway born – and get troughing. But New Labour voters still do not see that, not least because they are kept in such a pit of poorly schooled, reality TV-fed ignorance.

Cameron has made the crucial mistake of surrounding himself with fellow toffs. Thatcher was not one and had Tebbit as her self evidently non upper class attack dog. Major was not one either and was backed up by blokey Ken Clarke. I can only imagine that Cameron surrounded himself by an entire front bench of public school yaahs because that is the company in which he feels comfortable. But most people like their subservience to a ruling class they cannot join not to be rubbed in their faces quite so obviously.

Huge puzzlement is being expressed all over the media and blogosphere about how the Tory lead can have narrowed so much. There is your answer.


148 thoughts on “Class Does Matter – And Should

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  • Ed

    >>Huge puzzlement is being expressed all over the media and blogosphere about how the Tory lead can have narrowed so much. There is your answer.

    Agreed. Had the Tories chosen David Davies as their party leader when they had a chance, they’d be out of sight. Cameron is a lightweight version of Blair, and he’s being found out.

  • dreoilin

    “A journalist who filmed an interview about gay rights with a stumbling, confused David Cameron yesterday said the Tory leader’s press chiefs begged him not to release the embarrassing footage.”

    It was the most embarrassing thing I’ve watched in my life, almost. To think this man aspires to be PM is beyond belief. He’s trying to be another Blair, and is failing miserably. Largely, in my view, because he never sounds sincere. Blair had that trick down pat.

  • dreoilin

    On the other hand, Brown has major psychological problems. I’d like to get him on a couch.

  • Mr M

    What is even interesting is the recruitment processes of legal and financial houses are often just passed to family members than posting vacancies in public places.

    Where I currently work, other than me who arrived here on a temporary basis through an agency before working for contractors in the same company. All employees share the same DNA and I would keep little girls away from this place because crimes such as rape would be difficult to pin down on any of these DNA sharing people.

  • johnny barne-doore

    People have noticed that Dave and Co are not very good at what they do. They have been a sensationally incompetent opposition and are not even regarded as good Conservatives by the bulk of their own party.

    Just before a the most important general election in a generation, no one would piss on Dave if he burst into flames.

    The Useless Tories are back.

  • Vronsky

    Oh yes, it’s true. I was browsing around the news yesterday, specifically the Purcell scandal and his links to organised crime (you won’t read much about it in the Scottish press as it’s a bad story for Labour). One website had a nice block diagram, showing all the interlinked interests of quangos, the Labour Party, Labour councillors, and the great and the good. Up there with each of his ten fingers in a different pie was a character I know from way back – a ne’er do well who was probably lucky to stay out of jail. He failed at just about everything, and in final despair his (obviously well-off) dad gave him a pub to run. Golly, someone’s hands have worked busily a day, and there he hangs now, like Ferrara’s Last Duchess. Next thing will be the knighthood, sans doute.

  • Anonymous

    Spot on , Craig as usual.

    The problem with Mrs T was that for some reason, maybe because she was a woman, she respected the Toff class including the US money Toff class. Being educated with the Toff class I knew what they were like. I had been trying to get them to level honestly with me from the age of seven.

    Mrs T stupidly handed the steering wheel to them and they drove us into the catastropic mess we are now in. I think your’e right to gamble on a swing against New Labour to the Liberals, because it is our only hope. We must never let the Tories in again. Just before the Blair entry election I told a true-blue Tory friend, who had serious intentions to stand for election as an M.P., that not only would the Tories lose, but they would not come back for generations. I lost a friend, my best man at my wedding in fact, and he was a very good friend. The Tories need to be kept, like a Doberman, locked firmly in their kennels and their ferocious barking should not stop other contestants, like the Liberals or Respect from standing, and getting in.

  • anno

    Sorry, 11.51 AM post was mine. My ancient laptop gets confused and deletes the details on re-submission.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    I agree, but it’s not just New Labour voters who are in ignorance about the extent of what you term ‘the nexus’. You just have to listen to radio phone-ins to see that the elite have done an amazing job not only of concealing the truth from the masses but have also taught them to feel somehow ennobled by their subjection.

  • anno

    The toffs who climbed off their pedestals to succeed under Mrs Thatcher,were only joking and climbed back on again. The non-Toffs who asked to try out the pedestal were only joking and didn’t get off again.

    This electioneering is not about the illegal invasions and the banking crisis.

    It is about the non-Toffs who got on the pedestal, who have temporary Toff status as New Labour, being invited by the real Toffs to have a chance at being real, nasty proper Toffs with the old guard.

    It’s nothing to do with the illegal invasions or the banking collapse as these things are now run by the hand of Global Hard Power. It’s just a pathetic Westminster game.

  • Tom Welsh

    The British ruling class (by which I mean the bankers and other super-rich, not the Royal family and the old aristocracy) seems to have successfully imitated its American equivalent. Perhaps for the first time in recorded history, millions of poor people who have no prospect of improving their lot are apparently resigned to their fate. Not only do they not resent the wealth and power of the ruling elite; they actively praise and support it.

    It was, of course, in the USA that the wealthy first pulled off the clever PR trick of convincing poor people that the rich were good, virtuous, and praiseworthy – largely by making them think (quite wrongly) that anyone can become President, or a billionaire.

  • dreoilin

    There is an argument that circles the web, about whether a female or female-dominated cabinet would be as quick to go to war as a male one.

    Mrs T is cited as an example by those who claim, “Yes, they would”. I don’t see her as a typical female at all. I see her as a woman who aspired to being a Toff, and decided early on that to succeed she would be “more male than the males themselves”. Not that she couldn’t flirt, if the stories are to be believed.

    I don’t think she proves anything about anything, she was a one-off. In fact, I like what one writer said about war (paraphrased):

    ‘Women would spend much more time on diplomacy, but when they did go to war, they would be twice as vicious’.

    ———–

    I just read this in the Independent:

    “Mainstream parties were routed in an astonishing council by-election result just days before Prime Minister Gordon Brown is expected to call a general election.

    “The Greens’ Rachel Eburne captured a Tory seat at Mid Suffolk District, also humiliating the Liberal Democrats and Labour.

    “She polled 61 per cent of the vote at Haughley and Wetherden with a 33.2 per cent net swing from the Conservatives.”

    Quo vadis??

    ———-

    We are all, those of us in the Engish-speaking world, suffering from cultural imperialism, whether it’s in armed cops shooting innocent people, dumbing-down of education, the arrival of Tasers, gang/drug turf wars, obesity epidemic, celebrity culture, PR-controlled politics, spin doctors – and now presidential style PM debates. All aping the USA. It’s high time we stopped. I see the same stupid spellings (like “loose” for “lose”) coming from British and Irish kids (internet-driven) that used to apply only to the USA. And the other famous mix-up, “their, they’re and there.”

  • dreoilin

    “largely by making them think (quite wrongly) that anyone can become President, or a billionaire”

    There’s a great article on that, and on what “positive thinking” has done to e.g. the American education system.

    “The Myths & Mistakes of the Positive Thinking Movement” Steve Salerno

    http://bit.ly/EyQKv

    (scroll down about 1/4)

    and also Barbara Ehrenreich’s article, “Smile! You’ve got cancer”, here

    http://bit.ly/4oUp59

  • Anonymous

    Result: Mid Suffolk District – Haughley and Wetherden:

    2010 Green 444, C 176, Lib Dem 51, Lab 32, Ukip 25.

    2007 – C 354, Lib Dem 309, Green 122

  • MJ

    ‘Women would spend much more time on diplomacy, but when they did go to war, they would be twice as vicious’

    Yes, Boudica is a good example. Astonishingly vicious. Didn’t bother much with the diplomacy bit either. Still wish she’d won though.

  • dreoilin

    Mini-correction about Mrs T:

    “and decided early on that to succeed [in politics, not in being a Toff]”

  • Abe Rene

    This is something I’ve wondered about – how did New Labour manage to close up the gap in the opinion polls? Bribing pollsters to make up results is one possibility. Other than that, it seems to me that the people who are supporting New Labour are doing so because they believe that it is in their interests. Specifically, they may have become convinced that New Labour will protect their job prospects better. This is a serious matter for other parties. Hitler’s promise of full employment must have had a powerful appeal in times of depression, notwithstanding the fact that this was achieved by excluding women from statistics, and threatening ‘work-shy’ people who would not accept any job offered by the government with the concentration camp (http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/nazis_and_the_german_economy.htm)

  • Vronsky

    “The Myths & Mistakes of the Positive Thinking Movement”

    Enjoyed the tale of the football blocker who spoke back to the coach. Saw the same put-down a few years ago when we had a guest captain for a rugby match. He started to go around the dressing room, asking each player in turn: What are we going to do today? The answer had to be: We’re going to win! Alas, he came to the club wag, who answered: Well, I suppose we might win, but could I suggest that to save time, you just put it to a vote?

  • anno

    Craig, the politicians are using class to attract voters to upgrade to Conservatism. But this is a decoy. The real issue, as always is a religious one.

    NO INTEREST>NO MILLION POUND GRAVY.

    There is only one solution to the present inequalities. Gordon Brown has presided over an economic collapse, and refused to reject the banking theory of interest-based banking. He’s signed us up to massive interest payments, while allowing the banks to increase their profits and salaries.

    I have been a Muslim long enough to know that non-Muslims are always allergic to even sensible advice from Islam. Muslim talking, blahblahblah, sorry, what did you say?

    That’s why I can’t see any point of staying here, because intelligent people become completely irrational when logic and understanding are sourced from Islam. They’ll vote for anything so long as it isn’t Islam.

    If these city twerps weren’t eating interest, they’d be sitting at home for four months without any income like me.

    It is difficult to understand why people who are unemployed can continue to vote for more of the same.

  • anno

    You see, Craig, with all due respect, it seems to me that you are a person who aspired to Toffdom, but when you got there, you didn’t like what you found. Meanwhile it opened doors for you. Every one is entitled to an honest living.

    Most people are still aspiring, and the rich Toffs in the Tories are posing for them to get their votes, like models.

    I was dropped into the Toffs at any early age. They make up about half of the percentage of private schools. That 50% of proto-Toffs are obscene. The only antidote I have found against Toffdom is Islam. Even the Muslims aspire to Toffdom. No wonder nobody seems to aspire towards Islam.

    Maybe you’ll remember my words, if I say that, the British public, like yourself will not turn away from Toffdom until they have fulfilled their aspiration. Then and only then will they realise the horrible mistake they have made, in twenty years time.

  • MJ

    Craig: “Huge puzzlement is being expressed all over the media and blogosphere about how the Tory lead can have narrowed so much”

    Abe Rene: “it seems to me that the people who are supporting New Labour are doing so because they believe that it is in their interests”

    As the election gets nearer I suspect people are taking a deep breath and wondering who they would really prefer as Chancellor: Darling or Osborne? If there is anything of substance that distinguishes the two main parties it is in where the cuts and the tax rises will fall.

  • Roderick Russell

    Craig, I profoundly disagree with your statement “Class Does Matter – And Should”?” Class should not matter. We should be aiming at a meritocracy, not a society divided along class lines.

    Yes what you had to do “To get the finance for my African project” is very typical ?” pay an “establishment tax” to an idiot who lives off introduction fees. Indeed, look at the current banking crisis. What was all that about, except greedy unqualified idiots who took huge risks (that they were too stupid to understand) in the knowledge that they would pocket the profits, with the taxpayer funding any losses. And, as we all know, serious wealth holders pay minimal taxes because they legally use tax avoidance schemes (offshore trusts, etc.) that shield their real income. And, of course my own issue, which just proves that the establishment are completely above the law, run the intelligence services like a secret police, and the politicians are scared of them.

    But Craig, the answer is not to build a counter class structure. Politicians have tried to do this for 90 years, and except for Lloyd George it has got us nowhere.

    The answer surely is to build a meritocracy. To remove the rich man’s tax loopholes, not to sponge him, but so that he pays the same share of his real income in taxes as the middle classes do; to develop a written constitution where there is an open form of democracy and all powers of the crown are exercised by elected bodies; to rain in the intelligence services who are presently completely out of control; to develop affirmative action programs in the civil service so that appointments are made by merit and not who you know; to get rid of stupid titles and the honours system, and so on.

    “Who you know systems” are not just unfair to the vast majority – They are unpatriotic since too often they put idiots in top jobs. What is amazing to me is that these same topics keep going around and around again and never get solved.

  • anno

    Craig, in your comments on your campaign in Norwich North, you said that you thought that the good people of Norfolk admired a self-made man.

    But have you thought that maybe they didn’t admire a self-made man who had achieved what they aspired to and then criticised it. You were spoiling their dreams. What they want is to have a dream that they can achieve wealth and power and that will be enough for them.

    We are humans, some of us, not all of us. for the Blairs and the Hoons, they continue digging, thinking that their lack of success is because they didn’t try hard enough.

    Cameron is a deeply cynical stuck-up twit, who has only one cheap card, his Toffiness. Everything else about the Tory party is rubbish. Gordon Brown similarly has only one miserable card, the welfare state. Everything else about New Labour is rubbish. They are troughers and mass murderers and Brown has absolutely zero understanding about money. Darling is no better than a magician pulling rabbits out of a hat as Nick Clegg has been pointing out.

    For this campaign, the UK electorate need to be reminded that lottery winners are usually miserable, and that New Labour have mis-used power as the Tories did before them, that the marketing of political parties is shallow advertising and their financial manifestos are not just spin, they are deadly thin ice with a real possibility of economic drowning.

  • anno

    Dreoilin

    I read somewhere about the phrase ‘mastering the English language’ being used to remind people who their ‘masters’ were, in this context.

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