Analysing the British Working Class

This is pretty good:

What do you think of when you hear the phrase \’white working class\’? Tattoos? Dangerous dogs? Shellsuits? Scratch cards? Chips? Binge drinking? The BNP? It would be no surprise if the images conjured are negative; in the past four decades, the image of the white working class has gone from hero to less than zero.

In these tolerant days, the one underprivileged group that it\’s OK to find intolerable is the white working class. In our multicultural society, they\’re the unlucky ones deemed to be without a culture. Last year, for example, the editor of Eastern Eye went on television to condemn Channel 4 for allowing \’illiterate chavs\’ on to Celebrity Big Brother. Eyelids remained unbatted. Trevor Phillips was not called upon to issue a statement. The Sky News presenter to whom this comment was made simply nodded his head in silent agreement.

But it wasn\’t always open season on proletarian whites. Back in the late Fifties and early Sixties, the working class was flavour of the decade. Films such as Saturday Night, Sunday Morning found something noble, if harsh, in the condition of the indigenous poor. The theatre was filled with angry young men with earthy accents railing against the class structure. Pop music was transformed by cocky lads from humble backgrounds, as were photography and advertising .

A working-class hero was something to be, as the only middle-class Beatle, John Lennon, later sardonically sang. And then, almost overnight, white and working class became a deeply unfashionable combination.


Back in the Sixties, there was a nobility to the working class and also, crucially, a mobility. It was on the way somewhere. But that optimism has gone. Those who could get out have left, joining an expanded middle class, and those left behind have become the underclass: ugly, obnoxious, feckless and amoral.

Recast the phrasing. There always was a distinction made between the proletariat and the lumpenproletariat. The proletariat have become the bourgeois, petty or not, leaving the lumpens alone to be described as the "working class".

Here\’s an idea though: not one I hold very strongly, rather, I put it forward simply as an idea. Something to be explored.

Say that this rather Marxist distinction is in fact true. Does this explain both the social mobility of earlier decades and the decline of it now? That there was a group both desirous and capable of such, held back by the institutions of the time, and when those constraints were removed, they moved? And that there is no such group now so constrained or desirous?

The Great Divide

There\’s a reason for this:

ALMOST 5m southerners have never travelled north of the Watford Gap

And the article tells us what it is:

…the north is a desolate landscape of derelict mining villages and fish and chip shops, and is dismissed by three-fifths as “bleak” and “unsophisticated”.

So why bother to go?

Emigration Logic


One thing will be mentioned more than any other: that unchecked immigration over the past decade is creating a country many Britons no longer feel comfortable in.

I don\’t like living where it is 10% foreigners so I\’ll go and live where it\’s 95 % foreigners.

Not really compelling logic, is it?



True, But

What is the point of the Mr, Mrs, Lord and Lady? Very few people other than lawyers appreciate these niceties. Nor is there any reason why they should. They are neither logical nor necessary.

If, centuries ago, there was a valid reason for adding these appendages, it has long disappeared.

But just because something is only historical, neither currently logical nor necessary, isn\’t actually a reason to change it. We could call Black Rod the Head of Security for The Commons if we liked, wouldn\’t change all that much except losing us a little part of our rich and varied history. A loss of something for nho very good or great purpose.

How to Address Him

So, if our detail-obsessed Lord Chancellor had inherited a baronetcy, pursued a second career in the Anglican church and had won the Air Efficiency Award rather than the hot air medal, he would be the Right Honourable the Right Reverend Sir Jack Straw, Bart, PC, MP, LLB, AE. In that order.

Yes, Jack Straw has just published a guide to how to address people with titles. Multiple ones, as above. Like we needed that, eh?

Anyway, here\’s the Worstall guide to the system. It\’s actually the same as with multiple sets of cutlery at the table. Course by course you start with the outside ones and make your way inwards. So it is with titles. Once you\’ve worked out which is the fork equivalent and which the knife (ie, before the name or after, titles are before, medals and awards after) then the more important the award or title the closer to the name it gets.

Lords are higher than admirals, so it\’s Admiral Lord West. VC\’s are higher than MBEs so it\’s Bloggins VC, MBE. That\’s it!


The Anglosphere

There\’s a simple answer to this:

That raises a painful question. If Australians, Indians, Canadians, and even Americans can recognise the Anglosphere as a new factor in world politics, why is it something from which the Brits themselves shy?

It\’s that Brits themselves don\’t shy from dealing with the Anglosphere. As the very article itself points out, what creates the thing itself is that we all engage with it. However, the political classes are hesitant to even admit that it exists. There\’s been a 50 year "campaign" (not the right word, I don\’t mean to imply that everyone involved is consciously working towards this aim, rather that it\’s a general assumption) to detach the UK from that Anglosphere, from those cultural links, and attatch the country to Europe.

The stupidity of the aim itself becomes clear if we consider trade. The idea of barrier free trade across the continent is a good one. The larger a free trade area, the more specialisation there will be and thus the greater the wealth created. Unfortunately, at the same time we were told that we must raise barriers to our trade with the wider world, that Anglosphere. Again, the thought that places geographically close to each other should trade with each other is a reasonable one. But the decision to raise the barriers to long distance trade was signed up to only 6 months after the invention of container shipping: something which completely changed the economics of such long and short distance trade. As long as you\’re on the network (Brad Delong\’s done an excellent review on this) geographic distance now means very little: Bristol to Brindisi costs about the same as Bristol to Brisbane.

So the political move to more local trade began just as the very concept of "local" with respect to trade became moot.

Politicians are like Generals, always ready to fight the last war. Which is, of course, why we shouldn\’t allow them to plan the future for us.

Simple Really

The culture minister, Margaret Hodge, has said she will consider a redesign of the union flag to incorporate the Welsh dragon. Her surprising commitment was made in the Commons during a debate on the frequency with which the union flag flies above public buildings.

The discussions on a new flag design bring a new dimension to Gordon Brown\’s debate about Britishness.

Hodge told MPs: "The Welsh dragon was not included on the union flag, as the principality of Wales was already united with England by 1606 when the first union flag was created. I can assure all MPs that the issue of the design of the union flag will be considered. As the current flag is formed by merging three heraldic crosses representing the three kingdoms of the UK, the original design was a challenge.

The answer is there already.

Wales is a Principality, not a Kingdom. Thus no place on the flag.



English and American

We all know that there are important differences between English and American as they are spoke. One that\’s rather amused me was a time (as a result of something I wrote for over there) I was called a hack.

Over there it\’s very definitely an insult, one who writes not just to order, but to an ideological order. One who spins the facts and arguments to their master\’s bidding, purely for money. When the editor of the piece alerted me to the insult I\’d been offered I simply smiled.

For over here it\’s become a term of approbation. Yes, one who writes to order, but one who is in fact a professional newspaperman. One who can write on any (or at least most) subjects and turn in a decent piece on time.

Lord Deedes, known to all as Bill, died in August aged 94. As Editor of The Daily Telegraph from 1974 to 1985, and a Cabinet minister under Harold Macmillan and Sir Alec Douglas-Home, he made the most successful jump from politics to newspapers. But Richard Ingrams, former Editor of Private Eye, who featured the fictitious “Dear Bill” letters in the magazine, said: “[Bill] would like to be remembered as a newspaper reporter, not anyone grand. He was what I would call a hack, and he was proud to be that.”

Lord Deedes’s journalistic career spanned eight decades, from cub reporter on the Morning Post to his last column for the Telegraph this summer. He was in Abyssinia in 1935, covered the abdication of Edward VIII and travelled with Diana, Princess of Wales, in her campaign to rid the world of landmines.

When I first had a book review published in The Telegraph one Observer journalist emailed to say that "we\’ll make a hack of you yet".

I\’ll admit that I flirted with hackery in the American sense and then drew back. I\’ll also admit to aspiring to hackery in the English sense, but I\’ve a long, long way to go yet.

Ignorant Politician

Yes, yes, I know, it\’s not a surprise to find that a politician is simply ignorant of the facts. Pete Wishart MP, with a message on Iain Dale\’s blog:

Years of deep felt grievances and a sense of growing injustice is gripping the inhabitants of Auld Albion, and up with it they are no longer prepared to put.

The problem is that he\’s using Albion to refer to England. Which is the one place it cannot be used to mean:

Albion (called Alouion by Ptolemy) is the most ancient name of Great Britain, though sometimes used to refer to the United Kingdom, or specifically (incorrectly) to England.

Occasionally it instead refers to only Scotland, whose name in Gaelic is Alba (and similarly, in Irish, and Yr Alban in Welsh[1]).

No wonder the nation\’s in a bad way when one of those who would rule it cannot even get the name correct.

Err, No.

While new forms of community localism are necessary in England, this is no substitute for making accountable, via election, the existing intermediate tier of regional government. At the same time this tier needs to be given at least those regional powers over transport, regeneration and planning enjoyed in Greater London.

Let\’s start with England getting those powers shall we? Then we\’ll work out what we want to do next ourselves, thank you very much.

The Life of Brian

We are a very weird lot, very weird indeed:

British martial humour remains an odd but enduring weapon of war. In 1982, after HMS Sheffield was struck by an Exocet missile, her crew sang Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Monty Python\’s Life of Brian as the vessel sank.

Absolutely, totally, bonkers in fact.


How excellent:

The Prime Minister, who has said he wants a new relationship between government and citizens, has begun work on a draft statement setting out what he believes it means to be British, which he will launch in January.

It will be put out to consultation with members of the public invited to give their opinions on his definition of Britishness, said to include such words as "decency", "fairness" and "opportunity".

Insiders said the statement was intended to reflect "the ideals and principles that bind us together as a nation", and will include a list of "great British books" and historical documents that "constitute the essence of our Britishness".

Documents, eh? Why, we could start with this and this.

Add in this as a reminder of what we\’ve historically done to those who have breached those documents and we\’d be getting somewhere I think.

Might give pause to those recommending the abolition of habeus corpus for example, imprisonment without trial maybe.

St Crispin\’s Day

Why not, something to cheer us up instead of enraged contemplation of curs, knaves and scoundrels that rule over us.

Take it away, Willy:

What\’s he that wishes so
My cousin Westmoreland, No, my fair cousin
If we are mark\’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God\’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God\’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man\’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call\’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam\’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say \’To-morrow is Saint Crispian.\’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say \’These wounds I had on Crispian\’s day.\’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he\’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb\’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne\’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne\’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs\’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin\’s day.

I shall, of course, be raising a glass this evening for today is indeed the anniversary of Agincourt:

However, the French suffered a catastrophic defeat, not just in terms of the sheer numbers killed, but because of the number of high-ranking nobles lost.

Couldn\’t have happened to a nicer bunch of people, eh?

Oleg Gordievsky

He gets the CMG and then says:

Mr Gordievsky has been a British citizen for many years now.

"I\’m more British now than Russian," he said. "Of course, I don\’t have the subtlety and politeness which is typical of Britain."

I\’d say he\’s picked it all up perfectly there.


Being a southern shandy drinking type I have of course never allowed Vimto to pass my lips. But it does seem to be something of a hit in the Arab world.

A BIZARRE series of advertisements has resulted in record sales of a humble British fruit cordial that has become the Arab world’s most popular drink during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Vimto, a blend of fruit juices, herbs and spices, has long been regarded in the Middle East as an energy-boosting accompaniment to the evening meal after a day of fasting. This year, 11 commercials broadcast on Arab satellite television featuring the British brand have become cult viewing on the YouTube video-sharing website and its equivalent in the region,

I think they do in fact have an extremely good marketing department. In the early 90s the canned, fizzy, version was a huge hit in Russia. Lord alone knows why, but there it is.