Monday, February 6, 2017

Why using "middle class" as an insult is staggeringly counter-productive


Left-wing Brexiters are a confusing bunch at the best of times. I mean it's easy to understand why a left-winger would have big concerns about membership of an international trading block full of neoliberal economic dogma, but the lack of political pragmatism is absolutely astounding.

Of course the EU has problems. I've written more words of criticism about the EU and stuff like the TTIP corporate power grab than 99% of Brexiters ever have, but the idea of signing a blank contract with the hard-right fringe of the Tory party to then make up the Brexit process as they go along is absolutely ridiculous if your main objection to the EU is that it's too right-wing.

How on earth can left-wing Brexit voters bear to even look at stuff like Theresa May's threat to turn the UK into a tax haven as a centrepiece of her so-called "negotiating strategy", her (thankfully failed) effort to destroy parliamentary sovereignty in order to establish the UK as an autocracy where she alone gets to make or repeal laws, or her sickening display of grovelling in front of Donald Trump?

How can they look at stuff like that and think that the UK is somehow going to develop into some kind of left-wing utopia under the leadership of the most savagely right-wing authoritarian Prime Minister the UK has suffered since universal suffrage?
How can they look at the fact that the Labour Leave campaign was completely bankrolled by UKIP and Tory cash and not feel that they've been duped into supporting a right-wing power grab?

The lack of political pragmatism that prevented Lexiters from seeing that a shambolic Tory Brexit would end up being an "out of the frying pan, into the fire" situation for all left-wingers, liberals and progressives is also on display when you try to wake them up to the reality of the situation.

One of the most glaring displays of this kind of narrow-mindedness is the all-too-common accusation that people who warn that this unfolding Tory Brexit shambles is turning into a terrifying mess are "middle class" sell-outs, as if "middle class" is the worst kind of insult they can imagine.

I was brought up working class and I'm really proud of my working class roots, but the reality is that I went off to university to study a poncy middle class subject, I've worked in quite a few middle class jobs, a lot of my mates are born and raised middle class, I sometimes drink red wine instead of beer, and these days I even know how to make my own hummus!

If you've taken to using "middle class" as an insult, you're using language that would alienate most of my friends, and you're insulting me.


These days the middle classes have way more in common with the working class than they do with the super-rich establishment class. Almost seven years of ruinous Tory austerity means that the vast majority of us have suffered huge income squeezes, deteriorating working conditions and failing public services. British workers have suffered a huge unprecedented wage collapse whilst the super-rich minority have literally doubled their wealth.

If working class lefties want to reverse this widening inequality gap then they're going to have to appeal to the middle classes too. Not just the minority who were born working class and drifted towards middle classness like me, but the millions who were born into middle class homes and have no ambiguity whatever over their class identity.


The idea that the working class can ever overthrow the Tory aristocracy alone by means of insulting and alienating the middle class is utterly ludicrous. 

The expression is "Workers of the world unite!" not "Workers of the world divide yourselves up into class based cliques and criticise each other rather than criticising the ruling establishment!".


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