Welcome to Britain in 2010 where money + class = power

From the Observer
As exhausted Labour ministers embraced opposition with an emotion close to relief, the party’s equally exhausted staff assumed they could relax. Instead of being allowed to recuperate, however, they were overwhelmed by thousands of angry men and women clamouring to join. The sight of Nick Clegg and David Cameron joshing in the grounds of Downing Street had rammed home a truth about Britain that all the talk of “inclusion” and “diversity” obscures. We live in the most class-ridden society in western Europe, and it is becoming more sclerotic and more hierarchical by the year.

Despite the admirable attempts to combat sexism, racism and homophobia, the life-defining issue for children is not their skin colour, gender or sexuality, still less their intrinsic talent, but how much their parents are prepared to spend on their education, and what friendships they can exploit and contacts they can manipulate on their little darlings’ behalf thereafter.

Look at our new government. Satirists caricature Liberals – and I think we can now stop calling them “Liberal Democrats” as their alliance with the right has sundered their links with the social democratic tradition – as muesli-munching, Observer-reading, real-ale-drinking members of the progressive middle class. The events of last week have smashed that caricature into 1,000 pieces.
Read the whole thing

8 thoughts on “Welcome to Britain in 2010 where money + class = power

  1. I nearly just wrote ‘pure class’ simply to denote how good I thought this piece was. But I don’t want it to seem I was being silly about it when I wasn’t. You don’t get better than Nick Cohen on this issue.
    And describing Cameron and Clegg elsewhere as a Pantomime horse as well, leaves pests like me wondering if I should turn my attention to something else.
    More please.

  2. for once I find myself disagreeing with you. Tony Blair comes from a similar priviledged public school educated background – as do many of the labour hierarchy (Hariet Harman etc.). I dont think the “establishment” as you call it is predominantly Tory. What I believe unites the establishment (whether Tory or Labour-leaning) is condescension or at worst contempt (especially)for the uneducated white working class. This to me is the true class divide in the UK. Gordon Brown’s gaffe in Rochdale is an example of this. But this attitude is not unique to the UK (although it is perhaps made worse there by speech and accents). In N. America (where I live now) I see a similar pattern – and it matters not whether your politics are left or right (remember Obama’s remarks about attachment to religion and guns?).

  3. Did class divisions increase or decrease under New Labour?

    And what was “progressive” about New Labour’s destruction of the economy and civil liberties while sucking up to religious and commercial interests?

    The people rushing back to Labour now that it’s got rid of its Thatcherite architects will rush away again as soon as it is made clear that nothing will change. So things had better change. *I’d* sign up if they changed.

  4. I think labour are now left with no choice but to play it straight. In fact, that would be their best way. “Look, this is what we are doing, we’re strengthening our best points and we are going to have to change ways that we took on.”
    That would be a good start.
    Nick Cohen regularly points out that the left have always being suspicious of banks in the past, and how it found itself crowning this collapse. That sort of damage should be enough to make minds think back towards the usual way of things. If, as what seems true, that the next few years are going to be worse still, then the fight for the next parliament will be more important than the election we’ve just had, and that could be the one where it’s decided if a party is kept out for a generation.

  5. As a general proposition, if we could arrange it so that the 20th century never happened, wouldn’t we?

  6. If I can correct myself…I think that ‘generation’ is completely wrong. I truly have no idea, and will just have to wait and see.

  7. There’s an excellent little used-bookshop here in Worthing. It seems to have almost all the old penguins, and at half the price available in a similar type of shop in Carlisle.
    But the political section is slim. One of the books on the shelf is by Ralph Miliband, dad to Ed & David; and another one further along from it is co-authored by Christopher Huhne!
    It’s about financial crashes. Is Clegg happy for Huhne to stay put at Energy as a reward for his Calamity Clegg tag – or – has he read the book?
    What’s with the Christopher to Chris while David is not playing ball with Ed and becoming Dave?

  8. When Ed Miliband was asked – what did he think about all the candidates coming from Oxbridge universities, he said “its a shame they didn’t come from different universities”.
    As someone who says he represents the broadest spectrum across society, that doesn’t say much for those who haven’t been to a university. He had a nice chance, there, to say something positive for
    the capable, clever people who never went to one.
    “I’m not an elitist. I’d prefer people from different backgrounds coming forward, we are the peoples party” would have been nice.

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