Neal Lawson


The working class have their own aspirations and ambitions.

You classist little shit you.

No point in giving them a bath tub you know, they\’ll only keep the coal in it.

5 thoughts on “Neal Lawson”

  1. On first visiting Japan c. 25 years ago, I noted that the Japanese love reading the results of public opinion polls about their national attitudes and values. One of the findings at the itme was that hardly anyone in Japan regarded themselves as “working class” – practically everyone thought of themselves as “middle class”.

    The minimum school leaving age was 16 but almost all school students stayed on to 18 despite parents being obliged to pay school fees for students over the minimum school leaving age. There were no maintenance grants for students at university, although the fees at the state universities were heavily subsidised but not the (high) fees at the many private universities of vary quality. The result was the notoriously and ferociously difficult competitive entrance exams for the places at the state universities, especially Tokyo University. And, arguably, also the very high propensity to save of Japanese households.

    By way of contrast, a recognisable segment of the population in Britain claims to be deeply outraged if they are not regarded as “working class” and “proud of it”. Remember what George Orwell wrote in 1936:

    “The time was when I used to lament over quite imaginary pictures of lads of fourteen dragged protesting from their lessons and set to work at dismal jobs. It seemed to me dreadful that the doom of a ‘job’ should descend upon anyone at fourteen. Of course I know now that there is not one working-class boy in a thousand who does not pine for the day when he will leave school. He wants to be doing real work, not wasting his time on ridiculous rubbish like history and geography. To the working class, the notion of staying at school till you are nearly grown-up seems merely contemptible and unmanly.”

    Sad to say, in parts, not too much as changed since then. If readers think that an exaggerated or incredible claim, then try this recent news report:

    “ONE in five of the country’s worst 50 schools based on 14-year-olds’ test results can be found in Yorkshire, according to shocking figures published today.”

  2. “But that is what socialism should be – the ability to control our lives.”


  3. Bob B,

    I’m not sure that Orwell was wrong when he wrote that. That’s not the same as saying that people described as “working class” have different aspirations and ambitions. They do, but see other paths to get there.

  4. Tim,

    “They do, but see other paths to get there.”

    Too right about that. One of the great tragedies nowadays IMO is the number of “working class lads” who aspire to become professional footballers earning thousands a week who therefore feel they can safely forget about trying at school. It’s rather like that previous aspiration of middle class mums in the 1930s and 1940s who all wanted to put their daughters on the stage – hence that once-popular Noel Coward ditty: Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington:

    The trouble is that very few lads are going to make the grade in football so they have to make do with initially casual work in the construction industry or building sets for movies. That’s why Labour governments are so keen about sponsoring the likes of the Millennium Dome, programmes to rebuild every secondary school in the country regardless, and tax breaks for film producers. Not to mention, approving plans for building new coal-fired power stations despite all the government’s ringing commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

    Unskilled manual jobs are becoming increasing scarce in affluent countries, which is why staying-on rates in school are rising. The curious thing about Britain – as I’ve often mentioned here before – is that we are near the bottom of the league table for OECD countries in staying-on rates in education and training at 16.

    Some in Britain were quicker than others to appreciate the emerging trends in the job markets. The attainment of girls in the school leaving exams overtook that of boys in the early 1990s and their ambition and attainment didn’t stop there:

    “WOMEN university students now outnumber men across all subject areas, from engineering to medicine and law to physical sciences.”,,2-2356965.html

    Sadly, it wasn’t like that when I was a student at uni half a century ago.

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