Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Mandelson Raises the Class Question...

The London Evening Standard is reporting that Lord Mandelson has indulged in a bit of class warfare, with references to "David Cameron's toffee nose..". It seems a bit tame to me, but it causing ructions at ConservativHome with charges of spite and jealousy and envy and what not...

Anyway, IMHO, the point about class is that it isn't really about class: nobody cares about that. Everybody nowadays agrees with Robert Burns: a man's a man for aw' that, an honest labourer is as worthy in human terms as any upper-class-twit-of-the-year.

With the Eton toffs the problem (apart from maybe not agreeing with the above) is that they belong to a very restricted milieu. They only mix with people the same as themselves, people who went to "school" (that's Eton for the uninitiated) or Harrow or Winchester or some such and then on to "oxbridge", and other millionaires and Aristos and Aristo-hangers-on. That's about 1% of the population, most of whom live in Chelsea and Knightsbridge and go to each others dinner parties and belong to the same clubs, and help each other through the original "social network" (no, not youtube).

So they have only a distant intuition about how us normal folk live and think. "The cost of living", what's that? D'ye mean caviar's got a bit scarce? I say!"

It is utterly unbelievable that David Cameron and George Osborne and Boris Johnson are simultaneoulsy the three people most able to run the country and that they went to the same school at the same time and the same university at the same time and were members of that same hooray henry club in the same university at the same time.

Co-incidence is one thing, privelege is another.

I wouldn't want to be David Cameron even if we swapped bank books and I'm sure he wouldn't want to be me. But I have a much better idea of how the vast majority of people live from day to day than he ever will.

So it is quite legitimate, and not envious at all, to question the ability of these people to be as good as they need to be and to be in touch with the needs of the electorate as they must to be to form an effective government for all of us, and not just a few of their mates.

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