No, David Cameron is not middle class


2:05 pm - August 11th 2010

by Dave Osler    


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John Prescott caused widespread merriment back in 1996, simply for declaring the obvious truth that he should be classified as middle class. The hilarity was even more general after his dad effectively denounced him for coming over all poncey and getting ideas above his ‘umble working class lad station.

But surely the entire point of the man recently created Baron Prescott of Kingston-upon-Hull – to the extent that he had one – was to serve as New Labour’s token prole in residence. Claiming to be anything else was effectively doing himself out of job.

Yet in so far as he was at that time no longer a seafarer but a senior opposition frontbencher with a wedge to match, the designation was entirely beyond dispute.

Now David Cameron has self-identified with exactly the same social layer, yesterday describing himself and Sam Cam as the sort of ‘sharp-elbowed middle classes’ who shouldn’t be using SureStart.

The prime minister, of course, comes from what is euphemistically called a privileged background. It is unclear to me whether that bloke has ever done a day’s graft, in the sense that most of us would understand the term, because the rent depended on it.

As a wealthy stockbrokers’ son, Cameron has truly led a charmed life, from his birth into the Berkshire county set to his education at the country’s most elite prep school, followed by stints at Eton, Oxford and Conservative Central Office.

Thereafter he married an attractive heiress and became a multimillionaire, worth something like £30m even before he gets his hands on the old man’s money.

 Heartbreak has played some part in his life, as witnessed by his failure to secure election at his first attempt and the death of his disabled son. But that does not detract from the central thrust of the argument. Cameron is indisputably a scion of Britain’s ruling class.

And the trouble is that the ruling class likes to pretend that it does not exist, for much the same reason that some Christians believe the same tactic is adopted by the Devil. Even to use the term is considered unforgivably Marxist. Instead, its membership prefers to elide the issue by insisting that their social standing is no different in principle from that of a headmaster or a general practitioner.

Does any of this matter? Should it matter? After all, plenty of leading Labour politicians – Tony Benn if he is to your taste, Tony Blair if not – have been well-connected public schoolies, even if hardly in the same league as Dave. And was it not the Tories that handed over the shop to a grocer’s daughter?
 
Cameron’s defenders might argue that socialists surely should uphold equal opportunities, and it would be wrong to debar anybody from a political career because he is a posh boy. Maybe he got where he is because he’s a pretty straight guy, to coin a phrase.
  
But socialists have to take the analysis beyond the personal. If there is one class in British society that is compact, cohesive and class conscious to the nth degree, it is the ruling class. Whatever talk there is of the Big Society, Cameron’s government will dedicate itself to ruling in the interest of that class. 

Cameron has experience of nothing else, and knows no other way.

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Dave Osler is a regular contributor. He is a British journalist and author, ex-punk and ex-Trot. Also at: Dave's Part
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Reader comments


1. Gaf the Horse

I was with you up to “Heartbreak has played some part in his life, as witnessed by his failure to secure election at his first attempt and the death of his disabled son.” Those are surely two events that should not be in the same paragraph, let alone the same sentence. To compare losing a seat at a general election to the death of a child is stretching it a bit.

“Does any of this matter? Should it matter?”

Only to disgruntled lefties.

I’m just checking here, but I thought classically the divisions were working-class (proleteriat), middle-class (bourgeouise) and aristocracy. And I hate to break it to you, but going to Eton and being rich are not signs of aristocratic heritage; that is having hereditary wealth and power through generations of ancestors/royal favour.

Of course, if we redefine class to be working-class, middle-class and rich/privileged, then Mr Cameron is clearly not middle-class. But if we do this, we should probably send him the memo before criticising him.

Of course David Cameron is middle class. He is, specifically, county upper-middle class. His wife is lower-upper. The ‘ruling classes’ in the sense that I assume you mean it – posh Tory politicans – are overwhelmingly upper-middle class. The last really senior upper-class politician was Lord Carrington. The last upper-class Prime Minister was Douglas-Home.

You demonstrate this quite neatly in your piece: “As a wealthy stockbrokers’ son…” As a stockbroker’s son he cannot be truly upper class.

Are you being paid to write this crap?

I’ve a faint memory of him being a direct descendent of the bastard child of William IV…

Maybe Cameron’s problem is that of skewed perception. When your partner in politics is part of the old Anglo-Irish aristocracy, it’s no wonder you’d feel middle class.

Headline on page two of the FT this morning:

‘Royal descendant Cameron says he is just middle class’

@1 Yeah it did seem kind of flippant, even though true. It doesn’t negate your point but it does stick out a bit.

Tone arguments aside, this is a good piece. While I think lots of lefties have been a bit dur-brained in complaining that Dave & chums have had amazing educations and upbringings, it’s important that people keep in mind that their privilege stops them seeing beyond their own picket fences.

On small quibble: Thatcher married squarely [i]into[/i] the ruling class – the only difference was that her husband’s family funded her political career, rather than her own. She’s really no exception to the rule.

Of course Labour are heading this way too and the Lib Dems got there a long time ago, so let’s not be too partisan about it. It’s a universal problem of governance not limited to the conservative party.

@the people quibbling about the class system

We don’t actually have an aristocracy anymore, class is defined as entrenchment of generational wealth and associated privileges. Hope this helps.

10. Peter Cole

Just think 10,000 years ago we MIGHT (for the pedants) have all lived caves
OK
Caves in the mountains
Caves in the hills
Caves in the valleys

@the people quibbling about the class system

We don’t actually have an aristocracy anymore, class is defined as entrenchment of generational wealth and associated privileges.

The whole damn piece is quibbling about the class system.

We, obviously, do have an aristocracy and class remains pretty strongly stratified on social, more than economic grounds. If you wish to redefine the English class system then go ahead, but as Watchman says it’s probably not reasonable to criticise Cameron for not reading your mind.

12. Peter Cole

Watchman
Was the piece criticising the poor chap.
I thought it was quite sympathetic

Tony Benn is upper class.

Blair is now “international jet set” class.
So he is hors de combat.

David Cameron is of course middle class.
He is just very rich middle class.

Its what people do that counts, the intentions consequences of their actions. By this criterion Dave has shown himself to be traditional upper-class Tory and most definitely ruling class, working for the favoured few.

Peter Cole,

Watchman
Was the piece criticising the poor chap.
I thought it was quite sympathetic

Probably criticise was the wrong verb, to be fair. But the point still stands, if modified.

Putting Cameron in the “ruling class” is fair enough, surely. I wouldn’t have said that’s the same thing as upper class, and the article doesn’t propose that he’s upper class. So I think the people invoking the Normans are straw manning a bit.

Having said that, the main problem cited with Cameron, that he may have never “done a day’s graft, in the sense that most of us would understand the term, because the rent depended on it” is hardly limited to the ruling class. You can be wealthy enough to avoid putting your kids through anything resembling a difficult time without marrying an aristocratic heiress or inheriting a £30m fortune.

17. the a&e charge nurse

David Cameron is on record as saying he is ‘terrified’ of finding a ‘good’ state school.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10588506

An indirect measure, perhaps, of what he REALLY thinks about ordinary London folk?
After all – it’s not as if Cam’s sproggs will attend school in a war-zone like certain parts of Crackney, Depford or the ‘Nam ………. so what’s he ‘terrified’ of, eh?

That fucking tory. I want to skin him, wear his skin as suit and eat little children whilst telling people that I dont like tories

he may have never “done a day’s graft”, in the sense that most of us would understand the term

Just a wild stab in the dark here, but I’m guessing that most people who comment here work in offices. Probaly not much heavy lifting. Which is what Cameron did before he became an MP, isn’t it?

@19 – I think the OP meant Cameron has never actually needed to do a days work because the rent was due.

I actually think he may have said exactly that but my scroll bar isnt workign either.

21. Get Over It

Anyone can apply for a position in the ruling class today, they advertise positions in the job pages of the Guardian and take their political cue from the likes of Polly Toynbee. It should be clear that in this day and age, the London liberal elite and their prejudices exercise far more influence over toffs like Cameron than the other way around.

Dave’s article would be better if he explained why the likes of Tony Benn, the ex-second viscount, get a pass in the labour movement despite inheriting a wealth of connections and status (even if a title was rescinded), and sending their children to private schools so those privileges are perpetuated for another generation. Aren’t the Benns the closest thing in Britain to the political dynasties notorious in the USA?

Wow, it appears that Sally has amazing mod proof powers!

23. Get Over It

I think the OP meant Cameron has never actually needed to do a days work because the rent was due.

If that’s the case, by working regardless he has demonstrated tremendous character and selfless devotion to duty, I guess.

18 is not me.

Once again a moronic brownshirt is stalking me.

Of course Cameron is not middle class.

Dear oh dear, the trolls are getting worse every day.

I’ve always imagined David Cameron as like a character in a P.G. Wodehouse novel.

I’m not really sure what the problem with article is, other than a certain looseness of terminology (which is close to being inevitable when talking about class in a way that isn’t absurdly abstract). If this country has an elite (and it does) then Cameron is clearly a member of it. Class is about experience and the relationship between material factors and identity, not abstract categories.

28. astateofdenmark

As someone in his early 30s, it has been interesting to watch the left obsess about Cameron the last few years. I grew up in walworth and live now in Peckham. Not once has any person ever mentioned that harman is as posh as posh gets, an aristocrat, attended the girls eton and went to extraordinary lengths to get her cildren into schools her constituents couldn’t. She of course lives in a nice big house outside the constituency darling.

In all my years, never mentioned. I only found most of this out in the last couple of years through the Internet. Why was inot told by any of you class warriors about this?

Yet a banker’s kid gets you all frothing. How peculiar, as I can think of few things more middle class than a bankers kid.

Does it matter that Dave has defined himself as middle-class? Well yes. Because he’s still peddling the bullshit that “we’re all in this together” re:cuts so to put himself down the social strata a couple of pegs makes it look like he’s going to take a hit or two himself when the cuts do start to bite the middle-class. And of course he isn’t.

FFS he has so many houses that he infamously can’t remember how many (middle class?), has an estimated fortune of £30-40 million (middle-class?), has connections in Buckingham Palace (one of whom rang his constiuency office before he was selected as a PPC saying he was a good fellow) (middle-class?), is married to a woman descended from the Barons Clifford of Chudleigh – incidentally related to the Royals thus making her a distant relative of her husband – (middle-class?), went to Eton with his family paying full fees (middle-class?), was a member of the exclusive “dining” club the Bullingdon at Oxford (middle-class?) et freakin’ cetera ad bloody nauseam.

If he’s middle-class I’m a Tory.

@28

Is Harman waging class warfare against the poor on behalf of her social set? Well shut the hell up then. Same arguments go for Tony Benn whoever mentioned him upthread.

31. astateofdenmark

30

call me dave isn’t waging war against me.

Harman and Benn are using me as cover to justify themselves.

So you shut the fuck up. Middle class lefties don’t f
get to decide who should represent me and what policies I should prefer.

Learn that and the upper class labour elite like the Harmans, Benns, Millibands might win some of our cores back

32. Arthur Seaton

Sorry Dave, I think you’ve got it wrong here. I never thought I’d find myself arguing with the right-wing Watchman and Tim J, against you, but they have it right – the “upper class” is the aristocracy and gentry, the “middle class” is the bourgeoisie (Marx’s own definition), the business owners, the biggers ones of which *are* the ruling class (interbred with the former of course.) Therefore David Cameron is both middle-class and ruling class, there is no contradiction.

Of course there are many different gradations of this “middle-class”, and its a gift to the right that “middle” means “average/normal” in people’s minds. This semantic confusion, deliberately fostered by the right-wing in general, and the Thatcher-Reagan revolutionaries in particular, has pulled off the swindle of the century in convincing a huge number of people that they are “middle-class” when they are nothing of the sort. Challenging this view has been the left’s biggest challenge for decades – it remains so.

But none of this changes the fact that David Cameron is middle class – top end of course.

@31

Well you’re lucky enough to not be poor, or female, or a pensioner or a child then. But rest assured these cuts will hit everyone earning a normal wage doing a normal job eventually. They won’t hit bankers, millionaire businessmen, etc. That’s why Cameron is repositioning himself. He’s just like you, see. He’s on your side. And we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.

34. Chaise Guevara

“He’s just like you, see. He’s on your side. And we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.”

Well put, and extra credit for making the hairs go up on the back of my neck.

@32

Um that’s only true if you use a 19th century definition of class. ie with the landed gentry and aristocracy and all. You’re falling for Cameron’s snakeoil-salesmanship if you think he falls into the “middle-class” category, no matter how big you wanna stretch it at either end.

36. astateofdenmark

33

then there is no class war. I know I’ll be paying more tax and I know I would have paid even more if labour had won. Such is life.

But still you use lazy generalisations. Just because you label someone poor, doesn’t mean they agree with labour that money should be hosed up the wall. Look at the breakdown of voting in cde class groups. Why do you say women and pensioners? Would that include dave’s missus? His parents? What about Harman. She’s a woman and an aristocrat. Where does she fit in these lazy generalisations?

37. Charlieman

@21 Get Over It: “Anyone can apply for a position in the ruling class today…”

Anyone who applies for any advertised job with the expectation that it provides admission to the ruling class should anticipate disillusionment. The closest advertised job description might be PPC, but most MPs spend many years in the job before they are offered a sniff of power. The true ruling classes acquire jobs by connections.

It is more accurate to describe the jobs advertised in the Guardian as a step on the managerial class ladder. The top level of the managerial class write papers that influence or justify actions by government, who either make laws or exempt themselves from them. Some junior members of the managerial class abuse minor powers and are accurately described as jobsworths or busybodies. However the managerial class is numerically huge when you count all of its members, formal (civil service, local government, police) and informal (quangos, seconded voluntary organisations). The abusers are a minority (the UK is recognised on most scales as a “free” country), but I’ll back any sensible ideas that reduce state intervention.

Ruling class does not equate to government. Most members of the ruling class do not participate actively in politics, but rely on membership to help them out when they are caught holding a bag of cocaine. Those members of the ruling class who enter politics may find that it eases their admission. But today, politics is dominated by “high fliers” from the managerial class.

The problem with “high fliers” is that too many are low flying bullshit merchants.

@7 : “Headline on page two of the FT this morning:‘Royal descendant Cameron says he is just middle class’”

And now for some facts – the Sunday Times published this news story last November: The 10 richest Tories in the shadow cabinet
http://timesbusiness.typepad.com/money_weblog/2009/11/10-wealthiest-tories.html

@36

I’m not saying if you’re poor then you have to support Labour. I’m saying if you’re poor then you’re getting screwed over by Cameron and his gang on behalf of their tax-evading banker and business mates.
As for women and pensioners – if you’re a vulnerable woman then you are more likely to be hit by the cuts in funds to rape crisis centres etc (as documented on this blog) and if you’re a pensioner your pension is going to be hit by the change from being linked to the CPI rather than the RPI (see here for more detail). None of these apply if you are rich enough to afford a)private care/therapy etc or b)have a private income to keep you nicely when you’re old. Hence class war.
I haven’t a clue about Harman. And as she is not making these decisions I don’t see why it matters. My main point is the reason why people on the left don’t go on about Harman’s class is because she isn’t fighting in favour of it.

40. astateofdenmark

So if you agree with mr pill you’re alright, regardless of background. Erm, that is called party politics. Have the guts to argue the specifics without the snobbish personality attacks.

Or, head down to Peckham and demand the stuck up snob aristocrat from the most exclusive private girls school who also made sure her kids went to good schools, resign.

Otherwise you are just practicing what Orwell said about animals and equality

@21 Get Over It: “Anyone can apply for a position in the ruling class today…”

Something in that. Try this Guardian profile from 2006 of David Nicholson, the current chief executive of the NHS:

“David Nicholson, the new chief executive of the NHS in England, took up the reins of office last week [September 2006] and set about dispelling the notion that he might provide the service with a period of consolidation and calm.

“When his appointment was announced seven weeks ago, there was a huge sense of relief among managers and clinicians that the job had gone to a person steeped in NHS values. People seemed to think that he was somehow less threatening than the two American managers on the final shortlist, who might have been expected to further commercialise healthcare delivery.

“But, in his first interview as chief executive, he has told Society Guardian that it is his NHS pedigree that has made him determined to push through reforms even faster than before. He thinks that up to 60 hospital trusts may need help to survive the pressures of change, as they lose work to primary care services operating in the community – and to specialist tertiary hospitals where the harder cases will be treated. In some cases they may have to be taken over by stronger neighbours with the management muscle to carry through the necessary changes.

“And NHS trusts in England, both weak and strong, will have to come to terms with a reconfiguration of key services that will reduce the number of hospitals offering a full A&E department, paediatrics and maternity services. . .

“Nicholson has been with the NHS for 29 years. He joined as a graduate trainee in the same year he joined the Communist party, which he then saw as the best vehicle to take forward his passionate support for the anti-apartheid struggle. He says he was not a Eurocommunist: he was among the Tankies who did not see an ideological need to distance themselves from Moscow. . . ”
http://society.guardian.co.uk/interview/story/0,,1870627,00.html

Btw top civil servants who are paid more than David Cameron, include David Nicholson: reportedly, his current package costs £259,999 and includes a London flat:
http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/politics/domestic_politics/the+170+civil+servants+paid+more+than+cameron/3665727

OTOH “The chances of a child from a poor family enjoying higher wages and better education than their parents is lower in Britain than in other western countries, the OECD says”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/mar/10/oecd-uk-worst-social-mobility

42. Charlieman

@28 astateofdenmark: “…and went to extraordinary lengths to get her cildren into schools her constituents couldn’t.”

Harman determined that some schools would not serve the needs of her children. She found her children places elsewhere in state schools. Surely that is the moral and rational act of a parent: to pick the best education for your children from the available options?

The obverse would be to choose the worst school and conduct a Maoist experiment to determine the influence of family background (or genes) on educational outcomes. There might be a similar approach to determine whether high achieving parents can influence management of a failing school. How moral is it to experiment on children’s education?

Note also that some very wealthy lefty people choose to educate their children in state schools, thus avoiding the opprobrium of being a public school user. Why did they make that choice?

[I presume equal admission conditions and that HH was treated like all other parents.]

@40

Erm what? I’m not saying you or anyone has to agree with me or whatever, I’m saying that if you are from the upper class and you are defending upper-class interests then you can expect people to make an issue of it.
That is all.

What a tedious rightwing bore you are astateofdenmark.

Whatever school Ms Harman sends her kids to, she at least throws her lot in with a left of centre progressive Party which, in the main, battles for the interests of people far less privileged than herself.

Cameron on the other hand has not done a days hard work in his life, has not had to live hand to mouth, and fights for a Party dripping with entrenched privilege and self entitlement.

I think the post makes that point rather well.

45. sevillista

I don’t know what the article is talking about.

Many in the middle-class are related to the Queen, went to Eton and worth £30 million aren’t they?

I don’t follow all this stuff about schools and Harriet Harmen. The fact is that that two maintained boys schools, within easy walking distance of where I’m sitting, achieve better average A-level results than Eton.

Readers can check this out from the schools league table on the BBC website, based on A-level results last year, showing that there were quite a few “maintained” (meaning non-feepaying) schools which achieved better average A-levels than Eton:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7827223.stm

Only about 7% of total pupils at school attend non-maintained, fee-paying schools and whatever advantages are gained from the social networks, those advantages don’t seem to be carried through to the degree results of students who attended fee-paying schools according to this research:

“The UK’s most expensive private schools are producing pupils who achieve the worst grades at university, according to research. An eight-year study of graduates’ results by researchers at the University of Warwick suggests that the more parents pay in school fees, the less chance their children have of getting a good degree.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/2552523.stm

The really dreadful legacy from New Labour is the low social mobility in Britain compared with other affluent western countries. Try this LSE research monograph: Intergenerational Mobility in Europe and North America
http://cep.lse.ac.uk/about/news/IntergenerationalMobility.pdf

47. astateofdenmark

Interesting. Harman is allowed all sorts of excuses for her background and choices. Choices like sending her kid to a school in Orpington, kent, despite living in Herne Hill/dulwich village. (check the distance on a map then remember London traffic). Choices like living in Dulwich village despite being MP for Camberwell & Peckham (there are even nice areas in Peckham, but obviously not good enough for Harriet).

Yet a bankers kid is attacked relentlessly by posh and middle class lefties for having a different politics. Only the elite would think they can decide who is virtuous. Only upper and middle class lefties are so pompous as to think they can.

No wonder us working class have deserted you in record numbers.

@astateofdenmark

Does Harriet Harman pretend that she is working-class then?

@47 astateofdenmark: When discussing politicians and the education of their children, I offered a few thoughts.

At the bottom, I suggested:
[I presume equal admission conditions and that HH was treated like all other parents.]

@47 “Harman is allowed all sorts of excuses for her background and choices. Choices like sending her kid to a school in Orpington, kent, despite living in Herne Hill/dulwich village. (check the distance on a map then remember London traffic). Choices like living in Dulwich village despite being MP for Camberwell & Peckham (there are even nice areas in Peckham, but obviously not good enough for Harriet).”

So what? A standing local complaint in the London borough where I live – which regularly comes at or near the top of the league table for local education authorities (LEA) in England – is that only 38% of the places at the cluster of outstanding local maintained schools go to pupils who actually live in the borough.

The remaining 62% of places are taken up by pupils who live elsewhere. I’m told that some pupils commute long distances to attend schools in the borough. As it happens, my son went to one of the outstanding local schools within walking distance but I don’t blame parents who try to get their boys and girls into these schools if they live outside the borough. Most of us try to do well by our children.

This is the latest LEA league table for England:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8439650.stm

As reported, London schools generally did well in the league table:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8456708.stm

@47

Interesting. You completely ignored what I said about the upper class serving upper class interests. And go on to make unfounded assumptions about my background, with the hilariously ironic “[o]nly the elite would think they can decide who is virtuous” as a kiss-off. Funny how you’re so keen to defend the posh Old Etonian by attempting to divert the topic to Harriet Harman, though not all that surprising as the Tory right has always had a problem with her.

52. Get Over It

“He’s just like you, see. He’s on your side. And we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.”

Well put, and extra credit for making the hairs go up on the back of my neck.

And for extra extra credit, recall how the middle classes in the Theory of Oligarchic Collectivism cynically championed the demands of the lower classes against those of the reigning uppers, right until they became the new upper classes — and so the cycle continues.

Anyhow, all this talk of the bourgeoisie and proletariat reeks of stale 19th century formalism. What really gets the goat of the Left, judging by vitriol directed towards them, isn’t really the capitalist class but the readership of the Daily Mail. It’s those low-brow semi-literate petty bourgeois mobs with their unenlightened attitudes and dole scrounger obsessions who are really standing in the way of world-historical progress. There’s an entire swath of small-minded nasty people utterly in thrall to false consciousness, damn ’em! Decent chappies like George Soros and the hedge fund wizards who financed Obama’s campaign are on the side of the good guys, comrade!

@52

I think you’ll find it’s the editorial staff at the Daily Mail at the end of any vitriol. I know plenty of decent folk who read the Mail, the only problem is when they start going on about immigrants and scroungers and Muslims based on what they’ve read in – and usually only in – the Mail (or worse, the Express) when the Mail is so economical with the truth.

54. Peter Cole

“If that’s the case, by working regardless he has demonstrated tremendous character and selfless devotion to duty, I guess”.
Or it was required to ease his way to power in the conservatives.
Had a bad day “get over it”. You sound very angry. Not enough time in the day to rail against immigrants, black presidents, and those goddam lefties.
Have a cup of tea, try to stop posting on LC (remember your blood pressure) and think we will be power for a long time.

Fellow Etonian George Orwell who came from a much less privileged and prosperous background than Cameron said his background was ” “lower-upper-middle class”.

I think we know where this places Cameron.

55 – yes. Upper middle class, or if we’re subdividing to an Orwellian extent, upper-upper-middle class. You’re not upper class unless you’re aristocracy, and Cameron isn’t. The son of a stockbroker is upper middle class, almost by definition.

There’s a reason that only about 2% of people self-identify as being in the upper class – they are and always have been a vanishingly small proportion of the population. Money can’t buy you in there (Richard Branson is obviously not upper class). A big house can’t (Alan Clark wasn’t upper class – though it’s a close one – despite being the son of a peer and living in Saltwood Castle).

Article: “But socialists have to take the analysis beyond the personal. If there is one class in British society that is compact, cohesive and class conscious to the nth degree, it is the ruling class. Whatever talk there is of the Big Society, Cameron’s government will dedicate itself to ruling in the interest of that class.”

I agree that the Tories’ priorities are with the elite – or ‘ruling class’ if you want. You’re also right that the term ‘middle class’ is a useful political tool to conflate the interests of the elite with the interests of the majority. No doubt about that.

But the Tories are not pro-elite only because their leader was born and brought up in the elite. Their pro-elite stance is right there for all to see, and didn’t change a bit when anyone else was leader. I find the idea that someone born into a class works in the interest of their class – irrespective of what they say, irrespective of their actions – fairly silly, really.

It’s rather like the commenters at the Guardian who attack George Monbiot not by arguing against what he actually writes or does, but by ‘revealing’ his aristocratic ancestry to readers as if this proves something sinister.

I read the Daily Mail’s take on this and they said that…

“David Cameron is a toff. He knows that he is. We know that he is and he knows that we know. But he has never let it hold him back.”

Which is a really weird idea to express – congratulations to Dave for never letting his incredibly priviliged background or hugely expensive education get in the way of becoming a success.

@55

Didn’t Orwell get into Eton on a scholarship?

Considering the fact that some commentators take it as a given that the Conservatives are only in politics to help the rich elite, I am still trying to work out how my family can claim they have always done well under Conservative governments (other than Heath’s and Major’s) and badly under Labour (other than Atlee’s) if the Conservatives are only in it for the ruling elite. My grandparents were definetly not even middle class, although I would conceded upper-working class by the time they retired.

Perhaps the problem is because you are believing stupid propoganda of your own making? Which is a dangerous line to follow (that way lies 1983, ignoring most of the public in pursuit of what you tell yourself is true). Yes, the well-off often do well under the Conservatives, but so do most of the rest of the population. Some do end up worse off, but so do some under Labour (and I didn’t notice it being the rich elite who suffered under Messrs Blair and Brown – or even under Wilson and Callaghan particularly). Since the Conservatives generally view wealth creation as good, of course they will be happy about it, but that does not mean they see everyone else as there to serve the rich or whatever. This sort of burying your head in the sand as to your opponents good intentions and sensible actions only ends up weakening yourself – how is presenting an argument that is incomplete at best, provably wrong at worst going to help anyone?

@60

There is an irony in your folks only doing well under a Labour Govt when that Labour Govt was the only socialist administration this country has ever seen, and then you go on to slate the Left… chortle.
It’s a basic fact that in a country like ours everyone is better off all of the time no matter who is in power as we are constantly creating wealth (no matter what the doom-mongerers say) so we are all basically richer. So even if your folks were probably born at the “right” time to be better off under the Tories than under Labour, whereas my folks had the opposite experience (being, I assume, younger), we are all better off financially than anyone back in 1950 or whenever. But it’s about the redistribution of wealth. The Tories still believe in the trickle-down theory and that volunteerism is the way forward (cf.The Big Society) just like they did in the 19th century. So it’s perfectly fine for someone to make £1million moving money around when their cleaner gets £10K for cleaning the shit out of their toilets, because as Dr Pangloss said everything is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds.
That is why the Tories end up serving the elite.

“Didn’t Orwell get into Eton on a scholarship?”

Yes. Orwell’s own account of the circumstances leading up to him winning a scholarship at Eton, based on his essay: Such, Such were the joys, are related here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Such,_Such_Were_the_Joys

A possibly important insight is that Orwell’s father was a member of the Indian civil service and it was quite usual for the children of British diplomats, senior military officers and expat members of the Indian civil service and colonial administrations to be packed off to boarding schools in Britain.

It’s an interesting issue as to how their experiences of boarding schools shaped their values and politics. In Orwell’s case, the outcome was a set of unintended consequences.

63. Get Over It

I think you’ll find it’s the editorial staff at the Daily Mail at the end of any vitriol.

That’s funny, I don’t think I’ve ever come across derogatory comparisons to Daily Mail editors on left-wing blogs, yet I’ve come across endless sneering comparisons to Daily Mail readers.

I wonder if you could cite some examples of people being negatively compared to Daily Mail editors?

Let’s check Google:
Search for “Daily Mail readers”
Search for “Daily Mail editors”

A quick perusal of the first pages thrown up by those searches would tend to suggest you’re wrong.

64. Get Over It

Or it was required to ease his way to power in the conservatives.

Had a bad day “get over it”. You sound very angry. Not enough time in the day to rail against immigrants, black presidents, and those goddam lefties.

The superpower that enables you to read people’s minds and determine what really motivates them is very impressive, Mr Cole. It’s about time you had a comic strip of your own.

@63

Try:
http://tabloid-watch.blogspot.com/
http://enemiesofreason.co.uk/
http://www.mailwatch.co.uk/
http://the-sun-lies.blogspot.com/ (ok, it’s the Sun not the Mail, but the point stands)
http://www.dailyquail.org/ (now defunct, alas)
http://5cc.blogspot.com/

…and of course The Daily Mail really are a bunch of fucking twats.

I think you will find that all the above blogs attack the writers, politics, and editors of the papers in question, and not the readers of said journals.

66. Get Over It

I think you will find that all the above blogs attack the writers, politics, and editors of the papers in question, and not the readers of said journals.

I’m sure they do. But what does that have to do with the ubiquitous insult found on British left-wing blogs that so-and-so must be a “Daily Mail reader”?

A selection from the Google search I linked to:

“Why are Daily Mail readers so racist?”
“”You must be a Daily Mail reader” – General Discussion – Digital …”
“The Daily Mail has the most vile readership ever… – Showbiz”
“sjhoward.co.uk » Why Daily Mail readers are so paranoid”
“Daily Mail readers can’t tell lies from truth.”
“Daily Mail readers vote to allow gipsies to jump NHS queue …”
“Gun Nuts & Daily Mail Readers | Politics Worldwide Journal
Aug 5, 2010 … US Gun Nuts and British Daily Mail readers share some characteristics.”
“Dogs on death row… a big thank you to Daily Mail readers”
“Are all Daily Mail readers brainwashed fascists? | Facebook”
“New superbug turns patients into Daily Mail readers | The News Grind”
“Pickled Politics » Daily Mail readers praise Shariah law”
“Even Mail readers ‘angry’ with Nazi slur on Clegg | Liberal Conspiracy”

and so on for another 72,000,000 or so results.

But by all means try to find equivalents mentioning Daily Mail editors, Mr Pill.

he’s descended from royalty. he is not middle class.

@66

Oh for heaven’s sake stop using this daft strawman. You said something like left-wing blogs attack Daily Mail readers, I showed you a small selection of left-wing anti-Mail/tabloid blogs that don’t attack readers but instead attack lies and poor journalism/editorialship, and you think a google search somehow invalidates that? You don’t even say where those stories are from. Are they all from left-wing blogs or written by left-wing people? I’m betting that at least some of them are based on the comments under Daily Mail articles online, and in that respect can hardly be criticised for mentioning “Daily Mail readers”.

@67

So is his wife! 😮

@Get Over It (I wonder when you will?)

In the interests of research I searched “daily mail readers” on this very blog (seeing as it’s the biggest leftie blog it’s probably a good barometer of what the left think, right?), and look! http://liberalconspiracy.org/2007/11/07/those-daily-mail-readers/ and article making my very point from way back in 2007. Key quote: “The Daily Mail does not represent the bulk of British opinion: It represents what a small number of editors think British opinion should be. So, by all means let us continue fisk and critique articles in the Mail, but let’s have a moratorium on the clichés of the dreaded ‘Daily Mail Readership’.”

I believe you are – as the youth say – “pwned”.

62. Bob b. People who tend to have a bad time at public school often become socialists. A. Sampson in ” The Changing Anatomy of Britain ” decribes A Benn at Westminster as ” He was never successful acdemically, but he had the gift of the gab: when he incessantly spoke up in class he would be greeted with cries of “Oh Benn !”- p86. Anthony Wedgewood Benn is the son of a hereditary peer; related to the Wedgewood’s and his family have been involved with politics for over a hundred years. A Benn married the daughter of a wealthy Cincinnati Family.
Former Labour leaders with public school backgrounda are Attlee- Haileybury ( used to educated most of the ICS and officers of the Indian Army ) Gaitskill who went to Winchester and Foot who went to Leigton Park; all of whom could be described as being upper middle class.
Attlee was criticised for appointing too many Haileyburians.
Callaghan sent his daughter to Haberdashers Aske’s School for Girls – a rival to St Paul’s Girls School.

72. Get Over It

You said something like left-wing blogs attack Daily Mail readers, I showed you a small selection of left-wing anti-Mail/tabloid blogs that don’t attack readers but instead attack lies and poor journalism/editorialship, and you think a google search somehow invalidates that?

No, you think that the existence of blogs that attack Daily Mail editors means there are no blogs which attack Daily Mail readers.

I posted a short selection from a choice of thousands that demonstrated attacks on Daily Mail readers. So far you have failed to post evidence of attacks on Daily Mail editors (you’ve posted links to blogs that you claim do so but why should I have to cross your t’s and dot your i’s?); (ii) you have not posted any evidence that Daily Mail readers are not attacked in left-wing blogs.

In the interests of research I searched “daily mail readers” on this very blog (seeing as it’s the biggest leftie blog it’s probably a good barometer of what the left think, right?), and look! http://liberalconspiracy.org/2007/11/07/those-daily-mail-readers/ and article making my very point from way back in 2007. Key quote: “The Daily Mail does not represent the bulk of British opinion: It represents what a small number of editors think British opinion should be. So, by all means let us continue fisk and critique articles in the Mail, but let’s have a moratorium on the clichés of the dreaded ‘Daily Mail Readership’.”

So, to bolster your claim that Daily Mail readers are not routinely demonized on left-wing blogs, you cite an article on this website that complains about … Daily Mail readers being demonized on left-wing blogs, and even claims it’s a “cliche”.

I think you might benefit from a remedial course in elementary logic, my good fellow.

@72

Actually if you read that article properly it was criticising two think-tanks that mentioned “Daily Mail readers” en masse in a derogatory manner.

And “you have not posted any evidence that Daily Mail readers are not attacked in left-wing blogs” ? You want me to prove a negative? And you accuse me of a “logic fail”?

I daresay Mail readers are attacked on some. Same as Grauniad readers are attacked on righties blogs. But you said (@52) “What really gets the goat of the Left, judging by vitriol directed towards them, isn’t really the capitalist class but the readership of the Daily Mail“. It’s simply an untrue statement. I’ve consistantly pointed out that it is the policies, journalism, editorialship etc. etc. of the Mail that is attacked and you have chosen to ignore that – otherwise why not have a look at those blogs? Unless you’re worried that I am right? Again, there may be some criticism of Mail readers and it may be a lazy shorthand for “Tory” now and again – but by and large any criticism of the Mail by the Left is directed at its lamentable journalism, not the poor sods who read it.
And once again, you failed to source those quotes from google. Where are they from? Did lefties write them all? You can hardly go on about crossing T’s and dotting I’s with that kind of crap.

74. Get Over It

And once again, you failed to source those quotes from google. Where are they from?

You might try clicking on the links in the search results I linked to. I’m happy to help out those who have difficulty understanding how to navigate the Interwebs.

I daresay Mail readers are attacked on some.

Thanks for conceding my point even if it was like extracting blood from a particularly dense stone.

Have a nice day.

@74

LOL! Your point was (@52) “What really gets the goat of the Left, judging by vitriol directed towards them, isn’t really the capitalist class but the readership of the Daily Mail“. I in no way agree with you, at all, on that statement. If you had said “some lefties use ‘daily mail readers’ as lazy shorthand and also some attack them, rather than the editorial policies of the papers in question” then I might be close to agreeing.
And let’s just look at some of those bits you “quoted” from google, seeing as you can’t be arsed to do your own research:
“You must be a Daily Mail reader” – a discussion about why using Daily Mail reader as an insult is stupid.
Daily Mail readers praise Shariah law – an article about a story on the Mail’s website about a paedophile getting beheaded in Saudi Arabia, and the comments below the story that praise the Saudi (Shariah) approach.
Even Mail readers ‘angry’ with Nazi slur on Clegg – a transcript of a radio interview about the “Nazi” jibe at Clegg – the reference to the Daily Mail is made by the interviewer, not a leftie blogger.
Daily Mail readers vote to allow gipsies to jump NHS queue – a Telegraph piece about a (probably rigged) poll on the Daily Mail’s website.
Dogs on death row… a big thank you to Daily Mail readers – an article from the Daily Mail website thanking readers for their donations to stop dogs from being put down.

I could go on, but I’m late for an important rendezvous with the pub. Enjoy your night.

Charlie 2 @71:

Apart from a youthful Tony Blair and Michael Meacher, few others in Parliament ever took Tony Benn seriously IMO:

In 1982, Blair had written a 22-page letter in which: “the 29-year-old Mr Blair tells then Labour leader Michael Foot how reading Marx had ‘irreversibly altered’ his outlook. He also praises Tony Benn, agreeing with the left-winger’s analysis that Labour’s right-wing was bankrupt.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/5081798.stm

“Daily Mail readers praise Shariah law – an article about a story on the Mail’s website about a paedophile getting beheaded in Saudi Arabia, and the comments below the story that praise the Saudi (Shariah) approach.”

In Britain, we used to have a more elaborate means of excruciating execution: Hanging, drawing and quartering, but this fell in to disuse and was finally abolished in 1870. The gruesome details are here (reader discretion advised):
http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/hdq.html

I expect to see a campaign mounted by Mail readers any time soon pressing for its restoration to support Cameron’s policy for attracting more tourists to Britain by promoting our heritage.

78. Peter Cole

“The superpower that enables you to read people’s minds and determine what really motivates them is very impressive, Mr Cole. It’s about time you had a comic strip of your own.”

I don’t know your quite easy to sus. Very predictable. So is Tim W, Tim J and cjcjc.
You could write the posts for them.
Nothing new
Watchman and Richard W a little more difficult

79. Peter Cole

As for attacks on Daily mail readers perhaps you have point
But what about attacks on Guardian readers by right wing blogs and papers.
Double standards ?

Watchman and Richard W a little more difficult

I’m (predictably) flattered that I am difficult to predict. But if you can predict what Tim W is going to say next, your grip on economic theories is much better than anyone other than Luis E’s round here.

I would suggest however that you have ascribed certain people in your head to certain stereotypes, and that influences your thoughts.

81. Peter Cole

Watchman
Tim W ideas are just classical liberalism dogma wrapped in Utopian nonsense.
Nothing new.
No different from the early eighties.
Alos what I meant was the political position they would take.
You and Pagar have views that cross the left and right divide.
As for Tim W, Tim J and cjcjc when the stereotype fits.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    No, David Cameron is not middle class http://bit.ly/9xMySQ

  2. Liberal Conspiracy

    No, David Cameron is not middle class http://bit.ly/9xMySQ

  3. Graham Jeffery

    RT @libcon: No, David Cameron is not middle class http://bit.ly/9xMySQ

  4. andy c

    RT @libcon: No, David Cameron is not middle class http://bit.ly/9xMySQ < hes copying Bush again!

  5. Max

    RT @libcon: No, David Cameron is not middle class http://bit.ly/9xMySQ

  6. Max

    RT @libcon No, David Cameron is not middle class http://bit.ly/9xMySQ >> If he is middle class, then I am poverty class.

  7. David H

    RT @libcon: No, David Cameron is not middle class http://bit.ly/9xMySQ

  8. Nick Hider

    RT @libcon: No, David Cameron is not middle class http://bit.ly/9xMySQ

  9. manishta sunnia

    RT @libcon: No, David Cameron is not middle class http://bit.ly/9xMySQ

  10. Mark Best

    RT @libcon: No, David Cameron is not middle class http://bit.ly/9xMySQ

  11. Teresa Cairns

    Just watched The Normans -is Dave engineering a similar class act? RT @libcon No, David Cameron is not middle class http://bit.ly/d0lvhZ





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