The Two Words You Can No Longer Say In The UK

Great Britain

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Whether we care to admit it or not, Britain is more divided by class than at any time since the mid-Victorian era. The upper classes, once branded by Alan Clark is the people who don’t have to buy their own furniture, may be embattled but they still own the greatest swathes of land in the UK. The middle class, trained over six decades to work and save, have seen their financial power shrink but not their population size – and the working class, well, who are they now?

‘Working Class’ has become a phrase you use at your own risk. Since the abolition of technical colleges it has become a stigmatised phrase. No longer does it denote the proud blue-collar force of Daily Mirror-reading public housing tenants; rather, it has become a group hardly anyone admits to, and changing the nomenclature doesn’t help, as newspapers awkwardly referring to the ‘white employed working class’ recently found out. In my lifetime the Mirror has gone from being an intelligent, respected, well-written paper for working men and women to another celebrity-drivel tabloid.

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The problem has reared its head with the Brexit vote, a working class protest vote against the rest of the country being ignored while all resources are poured into London. The Leavers had no reason to suspect they were about to shoot themselves down in flames. Sterling has now plunged further than the Argentinian peso. It took the former director of the British Museum to explain that the country’s delusional thinking is opposed by a mountain of disastrous evidence to the contrary. Brexiteers got it horribly wrong and there’s no going back – but as the real pain starts, who will suffer most? The average working class families surviving on a tight budget, who stand to lose, with immediate effect, up to £800 a year.

And suddenly the concept of ‘working class’ is back on the agenda, but covertly. It is suggested that racist and homophobic attacks, soaring by around 150% since the vote, are carried out by working class people, never by the kind of drunk city boys it’s best to steer clear of on a Friday night.

London is a blur of rich and poor, usually quartered together in two parts of the same street. A neighbour near me complained about ‘all the litter left by those chavs’, referring to the council property next door, but a closer examination showed that it was the white-collar workers, dumping rubbish before they went into their offices.

How we love to demonise. Britain has always relied on the kindness of strangers, and now that the goodwill is being replaced by hard negotiations, we realise we haven’t a lot to offer. Cornwall, the North and Wales were all getting sizeable handouts from the EU and offering very little back. But let’s keep those smiles fixed in place and laugh at the people who vote for Trump, as if it was any different. The US election may see a similar surprise result – how else can the working class fight back?

6 comments on “The Two Words You Can No Longer Say In The UK”

  1. Ness says:

    Having just left London, I found the mood rather different than two years ago. While I benefited from the unfavourable comparison with the Argentinian peso and went shopping on the day the British Pound took its biggest dive I still think it is sad what has happened and what is about to happen. The fact that it is self inflicted just adds to the pain. At least the Greeks enjoyed themselves while ruining their economy.

    For the record, the only times anyone has approached me, made lewd comments or attempted an assault (or as Trump would have it, claimed their natural entitlements) they have been drunk City boys, not a blue collar among them. So add misogynist and cowardly to the list. One of these idiots didn’t enjoy my response to him trying to hug me as I was walking alone through Holborn after the theatre. A comment about his manly shortcomings and ducking and diving resulted in him falling flat on his face on the pavement. It did look like I hit him, but I swear I didn’t Your Honour. London is a place where walking past building sites is fine, walking past City offices far more risky.

  2. Steve says:

    I dont think theres any connection whatsoever at any level between the Trump phenomenon and the Brexit phenomenon.

    As for the pound goung down, my personal opinion is that it’s found pretty much its real fair value in or out of Europe.
    The fall in the pound will be a huge saviour for a vast number of defined benefit pension schemesby the way. The db shortfall was shaping up to be a nuclear bomb for the 2020s publicfinances. Saved by the bell maybe.
    As for Europe, it has its own problems with the zero interest rate environment and being ring fenced off from them for the next 10 years or so could also be a real saviour. Europe even including Germany and especially itsindurance sector is in far far worse shape than anyone wants to admit.

  3. Steve says:

    PS the bit about kindness of strangers being replaced by hard negotiations is spot on, but the negotiations are with europe and europe was always taking more than it gave. It’s the rest of the world that’s now looking at the hard realities of the uk.

  4. admin says:

    I think there will be a Trump protest vote no matter how many incredibly neanderthal things he does between now and the polls. Many hard-right Republicans think ‘Gropegate’ is merely ‘the kind of stuff guys say’. Except they don’t usually say it about their own daughter! Eurgh…

  5. John Griffin says:

    Pity we don’t all share Steve’s sanguine take on the biggest political cock-up since …….the last one, probably Iraq or Afghanistan.

  6. Wayne Mook says:

    Being working class, it should be pointed out a huge amount still didn’t register to vote, but more did. After years of the press using Europe as an excuse, as well as foreigners, the chickens have finally come home to roost. Plus Europe has been run more for the good of big business, tax breaks, so this has impacted.

    There will be some pluses, but overall more borders mean less mixes of people, more intolerance, less trade and as a nation built on trade it will have an adverse effect. My worry is as the younger generation have less access to learning, esp university (as an ex-grammar school pupil from a working class background don’t get me started, a simple no should suffice.) and the lack of other opportunities begin to bite plus reductions services the reaction maybe a lot worth than a brexit vote. I hope the politicians take note but it seems they seem more intent on looking after the gold plated wallets of the world.

    Wayne.

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