- Fri Sep 06, 2019 11:18 am
Aimed at Ian Lavery at the time, but still applicable:
How dare you.
How. Dare. You.
To you, it seems that I am not "ordinary people". But people who talk like a convicted thug and fraudster (Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson) or a public school-educated former stockbroker (Nigel Farage) are.
I expect that sort of "We've had enough of experts" attitude and use of "intellectual" as an insult from the Tories and the Kippers, but I thought that you were better than that.
There's a longstanding attitude that you can't be truly in tune with the working class and comment on it unless you live in a skip, and had an upbringing that'd make the Four Yorkshiremen want to organise a GoFundMe for you.
For all both sides of the political aisle make a lot of noise about helping the working class to advance and communities not being left behind, it's all too common that if you have the cheek to actually try to better yourself, you're instantly accused of no longer being authentic when you talk about your experiences.
And I don't know about anyone else, but I'm getting sick of this beatification of the lowest common denominator as "working class culture" - a rare, delicate thing that apparently now has to be protected, nurtured and made allowances for, or you're all snobs, the terrorists've already won, etc etc.
It inevitably involves being racist, sexist, almost invariably white, distrustful of any kind of Other and above all uneducated. My parents had to take out multiple loans from my grandparents to get me through sixth form and into a top ten university that I worked myself ragged to gain entry to, but it seems that because I can now articulate myself better than by repeatedly shouting "Get on with it!“ or grunting "E-E-E-D-L!" through twelve cans of Stella, my opinion is now apparently invalid.
I was born in Salford and brought up in Wigan. My parents were an engineer and a cleaner. Owing to a now mongrel accent, I'm not likely to be mistaken for anything other than a little northern Heathcliff in any company other than working class.
But was I brought up to feel that this sort of casual racism, sexism and distrust of education or any kind of Other shilled by the Brexit Party and their ilk was acceptable?
No, I wasn't!
I was taught to make something of myself and do better than my parents did. So were most of the people I was at school with. To see those people and their efforts reduced to the same level as the likes of White Van Dan and Stephen Yaxley-Lennon simply because they're working class makes my blood boil.
This whole "working class culture" idea, as far as I'm concerned, is yet another product of the sort of Alf Garnett worshipper nostalgic for the days before They came along and ruined everything, by making you treat Other people like people. A misplaced nostalgia normally harnessed and marketed by the Tories as yet another way to make anyone on less than six figures and a trust fund one step above a Morlock, who couldn't possibly understand that life or move into it. So why should we act like They can?
It infantillises people rather than make them think critically about whose fault their problems really are, and insults and attempts to invalidate any other viewpoint.
I was never raised to be ashamed of where I came from, but I was raised to behave decently, to want to improve myself (and more importantly, to accept that that would mean effort on my part), to take responsibility for my own failings rather than blame whatever scapegoat was handy, and if I didn't think that something was my fault, to actually be critical about whose it was.
I was brought up that yes, life was difficult sometimes, but that should give me empathy for other people. Otherwise, I'd be no better than the people already bullying me for my lack of designer gear.
And now, Ian Lavery, the Chair of the party that styles itself "for the many", is telling me that my opinion doesn't matter because I aspired to something other than the status quo of the rich man at his castle and the poor man at his gate.
I am as much an "ordinary people" as anyone else. I earn less than 10kpa, and live in a former council house in an East Lancashire former mill town. I do not need the Blue Fairy to make me A Real Woman.
Someone who currently earns over 79kpa (the current salary of an MP, minus expenses, ministerial appointments, outside consultancies and perks - Mr. Lavery has been an MP for nine years) does not get to call me a member of the elite, simply because I have an education.
Current data says that actually, "fighting for the biggest share of the 48%" might actually get Labour somewhere. They got a lot of those voters they picked up from 2015 to 2017 from the LDs and Greens in the first place, and could very possibly get them back.
But it seems as though the influx of young people who joined the party during that period - the people who benefited from the push to get more people to university, don't forget - never happened in Mr. Lavery's head.
He had a willing base of educated, enthused people wanting to take his party forward. But he'd rather doggedly race after people who find genuine liars, Nazis and fascists worth voting for, and court nothing but the demographic Labour relied on over forty years ago, the lowest common denominator of whom haven't changed their prejudices since.
I may not have a valid voice in Mr. Lavery's eyes, but we're all equal at the ballot box.
He would do well to remember that.
"It is the duty of a newspaper to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."