Spare us this perverse obsession with class, Mr Corbyn

The classic Frost Report sketch about class

Slowly but inexorably the mills of left-wing resentment have ground on. Today as I write, the newspaper headlines indicate that “Corbyn says BBC Staff should reveal staff social class”.

Has it really come to this, that the leader of a major political party wants to take up arms against the middle classes?

That rather begs the question: who exactly are the middle classes? My father was a heavy goods vehicle fitter and my mother took in sewing machining. They wanted the best for their boys and we were lucky enough to make it into the local grammar and technical school.

I worked hard, resat all the exams I failed and finished up a chartered surveyor. That’s a middle class professional job, in the true, original meaning of professional: entrance by competitive examination, regulation by a chartered body.

So where do I stand, a middle class professional but with a solid working class pedigree?

The truth is thyat it doesn’t matter? And what does class mean any more anyway? Many workers now regard themselves as professional and middle class and the old distinctions between working class and middle class have long disappeared except in the left-wing lexicon.

Is it how you talk, where you went to school, what your parents did, who your parents were? Perhaps it’s which tv channel you watch? Really, it’s all irrelevant now. What matters is ability.

Why should it matter whether a BBC presenter or editor or tea boy is middle class or working class? It shouldn’t and for most of us it doesn’t.

But it still seems to matter for the class warriors of the left, left behind by the progress of the world they still seem to inhabit a world the rest of us moved on from in the 1980s, a period when the left tried to mobilise every grievance to support them, to try and build a coalition of the disgruntled to unseat a popular Tory government.

We’ve therefore seen the politicisation of equal rights, gay rights, feminist rights, black rights, LGTB rights, you name it.

Now we seem to have class rights, the perverse belief that the educated middle classes should make way for, well, whom exactly?

Commissar Corbyn and his acolytes ought to know that they tried that in the Soviet Union. It didn’t exactly turn out well for the masses did it?

So, I’m white, middle class, well educated, middle aged plus a bit, straight not gay and so looks like I’ll be among the first against the wall come the revolution. What about you?


  1. Well, come the glorious day siblings, comrades and divers gender-neutral class warriors, it looks like I’ll be first against the wall: pop, pop, pop!
    My parents were both professionals (teachers), their fathers were regular soldiers (both of whom gave their todays for our tomorrows) and shock horror, I passed my Eleven Plus, attended a grammar school, then went up to Oxbridge.
    Given that teachers are, surely by definition, warpers of young minds against class revolution and soldiers, mere puppets of the bourgeois establishment, it’s clear that a) I never stood a chance and b) that in the opinion of some, I should, by now, be a senior BBC manager. OK I’m a white, male, 50-something professional, who reads the Guardian but I don’t even own a telly, let alone make executive media decisions. Those who do, of any age, ethnicity, gender, background, or Alma Mater, appear to be doing a pretty good job, whether this is in the Beeb, commercial TV or in online media.

    Despite rumours to the contrary, Jeremy Corbyn is no fool. He knows that to conquer, he has to control the airwaves, much as the Luftwaffe needed to dominate the skies, in order that Hitler might initiate Operation Sea Lion and unleash the rest of the Wehrmacht on the UK.

    Sharp-eyed readers will have noted a small omission: my mother. Her teenage years were totally trashed by WW2 and given that her dad was killed and her mother left homeless and broke, she determined, as most parents are wont to do, that her kids weren’t going to suffer as a result. To say the least, we were encouraged, driven, motivated and instilled with the indelible belief that the world was our oyster. She never mentioned class, privilege, or glass ceilings. Nor did she ever rail against her own (and my father’s) humble background, demand pity for any perceived social injustice, or idly wallow in the dreary politics of envy. My parents went to their graves, safe in the knowledge that their children had all seized the day, aimed high and achieved well. Had I gone into the BBC, I can’t imagine what either of my parents would have made of any “requirement” that I rake over my/their past and have to declare it, order to satisfy some obsessive apparatchik’s twisted view of what’s “wrong” in British society.

    Life can be likened to a railway journey. We board the train at birth (the final destination always being a terminus!) and among various choices we can make along the way, perhaps one is critical. Do we sit with our backs to the locomotive and only take interest in what we’ve already travelled past, or do we position ourselves looking forward, so that we constantly view the future? The way ahead is surely the better option.

    Any political group, or party that seeks to try and turn the clock back 50+ years and re-ignite the old class war is doing a huge disfavour to our country. I’m not naive enough to believe that there are not social issues, inequalities and divisions in the UK but these are not now based on the lines of class, or birth, as they might have been when my parents were children. In that respect, the class war was over years ago, to be replaced by a much more meritocratic, relatively classless society which, for sure, has many and various challenges to address and rectify.
    These need a 21st century set of solutions, not some out-of-date, misguided, dyed-in-the-wool, dogmatic belief that dragging the top down to the bottom will cure all known societal ills.
    One doesn’t need much more than a a quick look at Wikipaedia to realise that such a “solution” has simply never worked anywhere else in the world, nor will it ever succeed in the UK.


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