Sunday, December 6, 2009
Posh in the news: Gordon Brown launches his class war
Gordon Brown, a desperate PM, fighting an opposition with no policies to attack, has made what can only be his last-ditch attempt to win favour with voters who despise him for his leadership qualities, fake smile and bad spelling. At least, he pleads, I'm not a toff. We're not over-privileged ponces in top hats trying to fight a war on the playing fields of Eton (which is where he accuses Cameron of drawing up his economic policy).
Matthew Parris, as always, writes perceptively on Brown's latest tactics in The Times - recalling the crude attack in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, when Labour sent on to the streets 'toffs' in top hats. He warns that the Conservatives must not rise to the bait - but also concedes that it could be a successful point scorer.
This was responded to the next day by Minette Marin - 'Toff-baiting, the dangerous sport that will hurt you too'. She raises an interesting question - one that will be discussed at length over the next few months:
The only important question here is whether toffs — any toffs, of any party — are fit to represent us politically. Those who suggest not have to explain why. Is it that toffs have no right to represent us because of their class guilt or our class hatred? Or is it that they are not capable of representing us, because they are too limited by their background? Is there something about being rich, highly educated and well travelled that makes them unfit for office?
Next up: Janice Turner admits to a small crush on Zac Goldsmith. And why not, when she has this to say about Etonian charm?
When an Eton education truly takes, it bestows an aura of otherworldliness, an appearance of getting what you want without pushing, being above the scramble and petty change-counting of commerce, Conservatism as nostalgia, Conservatism that actually wants to conserve something.
But she ends on a depressing note. Recently, she met at a dinner party a woman who had just been accepted onto the Tory party's candidate list. Lives in Notting Hill, weekends in Oxfordshire. That sorta thing.
So why did she get into politics, I asked. I thought my question was neutral: it was perceived as hostile. She shrugged, told me that she’d voted Blair in ’97: “Now the parties are all the same,” she said. “We all agree on everything, don’t we? Who gets in now, it doesn’t really matter.” And I suppose to her it doesn’t. To those like her it never will.
In other words - those who are in it, are in it to win it. Sigh. I do fervently hope not. (Go back, my friend, and read Marinette Marin's column on why we shouldn't write all toffs off, tempting though it is.)
Still - even the Observer, who one might think would be up for a quick game of stab-the-posh are deriding him. See Henry Porter, who cautions that a rallying call for class warfare is only ever going to miss the point. "As a nation we've always been more interested in character."
And a major Focus spread: Resurgent Brown ready to declare class war on Tories
(By the way - interesting stat - key in 'posh' to the Guardian search engine and get 8505 results. And not all of them derisory.)
Haven't got round to checking News of the World yet but what's the odds on them running an article shortly on Posh Totty in the House of Commons? Pretty good, I'd say. What, what?