Now this really is interesting from Polly Toynbee

Read my book Hard Work – all about crossing the class line. I have never, ever pretended to be anything other than what I am, from a family of middle class academics and writers, and lucky.

Hmm. So this book, Hard Work then.

Toynbee took whatever jobs she could find, often offered for less than the official minimum wage.Living on an estate in Clapham, she started from scratch and found that if she were truly unemployed, she would not even be able to afford a new job, and that faced with starvation, it\’s impossible not to sink into debt. In this powerful and compelling book, Polly Toynbee journeys to the inside of Britain today and uncovers that world which is invisible to most. This is a damning portrait of social justice in Britain.

So, umm, Polly is using the book she wrote about pretending to be poor to insist that she has never pretended to be anything other than lucky and comfortably middle class?

That really is, umm, well, I struggle to think of the appropriate phrase to describe it. \”Very Polly\” perhaps?

25 thoughts on “Now this really is interesting from Polly Toynbee”

  1. The wife reckons “Pollyfilla” could describe most of her work. Perhaps we could paraphrase to all skim and no substance?

  2. I’m no fan of La Toynbee, but this is not one of Tim’s better posts. Isn’t it clear that she means she has never put herself forward as anything other than middle-class _in relation to her career as a journalist and public nuisance_? I.e. she is not pretending that when she did whatever she did before writing _Hard Word_, she was experiencing what it is actually like to be “working class”. It’s a fair enough thing for her to say, so far as it goes.

  3. That’s unfair – Hard Work was explicitly a middle class person’s effort to fathom the nature of a working class person’s life. Why the publishers didn’t look for someone who’d lived that life for more than a few weeks is another question…

    Tim adds: That one is easy to answer. Barbara Ehrenreich had just had a huge hit in the US with “Nickled and Dimed”. An English version was required.

  4. Didn’t Mr. Portillo spend two weeks on a sink estate (whatever that is) to get a feel for the life of the “working class”

    Didn’t some other prat spend a couple of weeks as a “homeless” person.

    Didn’t some other Politician spend a couple of weeks living “solely” on dole money.

    I wish they would all just go away and die.

  5. “Tim adds: That one is easy to answer. Barbara Ehrenreich had just had a huge hit in the US with “Nickled and Dimed”. An English version was required.”

    Bingo. And I suspect Polly’s effort will mirror Ehrenreich’s in the sense of not being worth a shit.

  6. She is not middle class, she is rich.
    The fact that she says she is middle class shows dishonesty or ignorance.
    £100k p.a is not middle class.

  7. There are lots of people doing crap work for crap money and this is one of those rare cases where she’s correct.

    It has to be noted that many immigrants seem to thrive in a world of crap work for crap money, indeed there’s an endless queue of people willing to come here and do crap work for crap money, but that is another story.

    Toynbee is an enemy of the decent ordinary folk of this land, and should be opposed, however it remains true that it is fucking nasty at the bottom of the work pile.

    Restricting the foreign supply of willing workers might help (or not?). Minimum wage legislation is dance with devil that can go very wrong, but might do some good if carefully applied (by me for example).

    Ultimately, if you live in a very high wage economy, which we are fortunate enough to do, then those who can be substituted by import or immigration or mechanisation or whatever are always vulnerable.

    It fucking nasty at the bottom of the jobs pile – end of, doesn’t matter who says it, it is still true – fucking nasty, fucking nasty.

  8. It’s hard to imagine what’s learnt from this sort of exercise.
    Anyone who’s genuinely poor has learnt all sorts of strategies to ameliorate the condition. Where the good deals are, where you can win a bit. Conversely, the genuine poor have had the mind numbing endless experience of same shit different day. The shear tedium of eating that ‘economical’ diet that’s always lauded by clever middle-class who wouldn’t dream of eating it themselves.
    You can’t learn hopelessness.

  9. Whenever she says things like that I recall Jarvis Cocker’s Common People lyrics.

    I want to live like common people
    I want to do whatever common people do
    I want to sleep with common people
    I want to sleep with common people like you

    Well what else could I do – I said I’ll see what I can do
    I took her to a supermarket
    I don’t know why but I had to start it somewhere, so it started there
    I said pretend you’ve got no money
    She just laughed and said oh you’re so funny
    I said yeah? Well I can’t see anyone else smiling in here
    Are you sure you want to live like common people
    You want to see whatever common people see
    You want to sleep with common people
    You want to sleep with common people like me

    But she didn’t understand
    She just smiled and held my hand

    Rent a flat above a shop, cut your hair and get a job
    Smoke some fags and play some pool, pretend you never went to school
    But still you’ll never get it right
    ‘Cos when you’re laid in bed at night watching roaches climb the wall
    If you call your Dad he could stop it all
    You’ll never live like common people
    You’ll never do what common people do
    You’ll never fail like common people
    You’ll never watch your life slide out of view
    And dance and drink and screw
    Because there’s nothing else to do

    Sing along with the common people
    Sing along and it might just get you thru’
    Laugh along with the common people
    Laugh along even though they’re laughing at you
    And the stupid things that you do
    Because you think that poor is cool

  10. Polly Toynbee is upper class. She comes from a family who have a major philanthropic project named after them (of which she is an “Ambassador” according to their website) and pulled strings to get her into Oxford despite her not meeting the usual academic standards. She owns houses worth well over a million pounds.

    The claim that she is “middle class and lucky” is absurd.

    The distaste she expresses for the upper middle class professionals who aspire to earn the lifestyle she inherited in “Unjust Rewards” is pure snobbery, and not of the inverse variety.

  11. “Polly Toynbee is upper class. She comes from a family who have a major philanthropic project named after them (of which she is an “Ambassador” according to their website) and pulled strings to get her into Oxford despite her not meeting the usual academic standards. ”
    Just think a harder working not rich student could have got her place if she had not stolen one.

  12. She does a fair bit better than most of the bankers she gets on her high horse about. If, as she said yesterday, she shouldn’t be expected to be Gandhi, why should they?

    She also said 100k is unexceptional for a journalist. Funny, I worked for 10 years at a national newspaper and only a handful of star writers earned anything like that.

  13. Polly’s latest musings about class demonstrate that she has confused class with nepotism, which she seems to have benefited from for most of her life.
    I grew up at the opposite end of the social spectrum and the one thing which needs to be written in very large letters, both for the poor and upper class poseurs like Polly, is that no matter how poor you are, or how much help you think you need, at some time or other, to get out of it, you are going to have to make a personal effort.
    That is the truism which never seems to get discussed. I grew up in a slum, I left school at 15, but I don’t live in a slum now. Encouraging people in those conditions to believe that it is for others to support them otherwise there is no hope is genuinely wicked.

  14. “..and pulled strings to get her into Oxford despite her not meeting the usual academic standards”: I’m glad to know that she has so much in common with David Miliblair.

  15. PMJ, I couldn’t agree more. My parents came to Britain with nothing in the 60s and sold their house in 2007 for half a million. The left needs an underclass of people who are poor, uneducated, dependent on the state, envious of the rich and resentful. Everything Labour did in power was designed to encourage that.

  16. To Polly, 100k a year isn’t unexceptional, and definitely qualifies her as middle-class. Remember, she’s comparing herself against class warrior Alan Rusbridger who is on 700k+

  17. “Tim adds: That one is easy to answer. Barbara Ehrenreich had just had a huge hit in the US with “Nickled and Dimed”. An English version was required.”

    It’s worth pointing out a few things about Nickle and Dimed;

    1. Much of it’s commercial success is down to the fact that many colleges in the US put it on their summer reading lists for freshmen. In other words tens of thousands of students are required to buy a copy every year.

    2. It’s just plain weird in places. She refuses to make any sacrifices to advance and moves from entry level job to entry level job to get ” an authentic experience” complaining all the way.

    3. One of those students required to read the book, named Adam Shepard, tried a similar experiment and wrote a book called Scratch Beginning where he spent ten months in South Carolina, didn’t let any potential employers know about his degree or even high school diploma, and managed to go from $25 in his pocket to a job, rented apartment and car. He did make sacrifices to get ahead, such as sleeping in a shelter for a while to save money, and it paid off.

    To the best of my knowledge no college has Scratch Beginnings on it’s reading list.

  18. I’m a bit confused by pollys claims to have been doing jobs at less than ‘official minimum wage’

    The minimum wage was introduced in 1999, when according to her wiki page, she seemed to have just left the bbc after a 7 year stint as social affairs editor, to for work at the independent. Seems quite a reasonable career and I doubt they were paying less than a fiver an hour.

  19. Toynbee is a twat pure and simple.

    A venal, hypocritical, hand-wringing BBC & Guardian hack who with her 3 houses and multi-millions has the nerve to identify herself with the genuine poor of this country; decries the millionaires on the Government front bench while she herself (along with both the Milibands and the Balls’s) are in the same league. And irony of ironies Shaun Woodward on Labour’s shadow front bench could buy and sell the entire Cabinet such is his family’s wealth.

    I find it staggering that we are subjected to her claptrap on so many BBC programmes without anyone challenging her on the falsehoods she spouts

  20. Polly has three houses..a £1M+ one in Clapham,one in Lewes,Sussex,and a villa in Tuscany.Her husband was,until recently,head of the Audit Commission,and on £105,000 p.a.
    She’s a well-connected upper-class woman pretending to be middle class.

  21. Old Polly Hasbeen is a hypocrite, & a typical leftie. She loves to verbally support the needy whilst living the life of the banker – house in Clapham, country weekend retreat & summer home in Tuscany. Kids at one the the top private schools in London. For me she falls in to the same camp as Blair & Mandelson…do as we say not as we do!

  22. Dear Johnny Bonk

    So if its so fucking nasty at the bottom of the job pile why aren’t more people from there taking advantage of free education, paid apprenticeships, learning and skills programmes to improve their skills and fill the 100,000’s of well paid jobs in STEM based activities that are currently unfilled in the UK?

  23. @FatCaveman

    That guy who did the Supersize Me film about McDonalds also had a TV show at one point and the first episode was living on minimum wage for two weeks or something like that.

    He kept buying crap he didn’t need (expensive pastries at the supermarket, going to the cinema) and at one point sprained his wrist and then went to hospital and complained about the $200 bill or whatever ridiculous amount it was. Obviously a complete rip off but $199 of it was probably for wasting their time.

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