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Why do we pretend to be working-class? Progressives are tormented by reverse aspiration

Are we all middle-class now? A protest from 1999 (Steve Eason/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Are we all middle-class now? A protest from 1999 (Steve Eason/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


December 14, 2022   6 mins

Are we, to quote New Labour in the Nineties, “all middle-class now”? Do we all want to be? Not according to recent polling; far from middle-class norms pervading, British people disproportionately see themselves as working-class.

To understand why, it’s worth reading a paper by the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) from earlier this year, written by former YouGov president Peter Kellner. The report breaks the population into four subsets.

There are two “consistent” groups: those who are middle-class by occupation and say they are middle-class (26% of the population) and those who are working-class “on paper” and say they are working-class (31%). And there are two “crossover” groups: those in middle-class jobs who say they are working-class (31%) and those in working-class professions who say they are middle-class (12%).

The dynamic between the “crossover” groups speaks to some of the most interesting elements of post-war politics. Underlying it is an abiding non-sequitur — thanks to both segments believing themselves to be a member of the opposite class. Hence, these groups include some of politics’ most familiar stock characters, from the self-hating liberal to the bootstraps Tory, via the beret-wearing student and White Van Man.

Much commentary has been spent analysing the last of the four tribes — those who are working-class “on paper” but don’t identify as such. Described as “blue collar aspirational”, this upwardly mobile group were Tony Blair’s target market. Having been successfully courted by Margaret Thatcher, they were won back by New Labour in 1997, drifting away again after 2010. The progressive need to speak to these voters is, Blair says, “entirely familiar”. And he’s right that parts of the labour movement struggle to do this.

Yet less attention is paid to the other “crossover” group. Dubbed “white collar progressives” in the report, this section of society embodies the reverse of blue-collar aspiration. They are middle-class in professional terms but see themselves as working-class, and are the joint largest group.

This cohort has, I suspect, grown significantly in recent years — as both white-collar jobs and progressive values have become more common. It seems highly unlikely that they would have outnumbered blue-collar aspirationals five-to-two in the Eighties, as they do now. Peter Kellner himself conducted the same polling exercise in 2014, and even then there were fewer white-collar progressives. Since then, around a fifth of the ABC1 population seems to have switched to a working-class identity. Even among those earning over £62,000, half now say they’re working-class, according to the most recent poll.

The politics of Kellner’s four segments goes some way to explaining this discrepancy. White-collar progressives are the most straightforwardly Left-wing — the only grouping which backed Labour in 2019. They represent, in this respect, a set of progressive values which is on the rise in developed nations — something which drives, you could argue, their identification with those who have less.

Problem solved? Well yes, a bit. But although political leaning may explain why white-collar progressives vote “against their interests”, it doesn’t tell us why they see themselves as working-class. This matters, I think, and we’ll come onto why shortly.

The fact that so many do misidentify as working-class is frequently a source of ridicule, and this is often well-deserved. In his 2014 analysis, Kellner likened them to Dave Spart, Private Eye’s satire of a middle-class radical. The parody Twitter account Corbyn Superfan was Spart’s digital descendent: the privately educated son of a Berkshire executive, Corbyn Superfan was avowedly working-class and expected that his hardship would be alleviated under “Jez”.

We tend to treat white collar progressives — unlike the aspirational working-classes — as a nuisance more than a phenomenon, and rarely take them seriously. But look at the data and it quickly becomes clear that they’re not all hipsters and revolutionaries.

Do white-collar progressives wish simply to “descend” the social rungs — to perform aspiration in reverse? Do they want to get off the property ladder, as working-class Thatcherites aimed to buy their council houses and get onto it? This is the implication, if you invert the idea that a working-class person identifying as middle-class is evidence of “aspiration”.

There are, of course, some methodological factors we cannot ignore: the major role which our parents’ social class plays in how we identify, and the limitations of the ABC1/C2DE grading system in a service-based economy, which means that many non-manual jobs carry low pay or low status. But the blue-collar aspirational group are also prey to some of these caveats, and have remained smaller and more stable. So it seems there must be wider elements at play.

My own theory is that three factors explain the rise of reverse aspiration: a society which is increasingly egalitarian, an economy which is unequal, and a culture which is individualistic. Let’s begin with the first. Many of the assumptions which govern our politics and society are broadly egalitarian. All the main parties acknowledge the notion of equality, and the “on your bike” mantras of Thatcherism are largely unsayable — as Liz Truss can testify.

Different political strains apply this in conflicting ways, attacking different “elites”. The Right claim to speak for those who are truly self-made, while the Left wish to champion those who have overcome genuine oppression and hardship. But neither would be keen to admit to being born with a silver spoon, and both purport to “punch up”.

Our political ethos, then, prizes humble beginnings, encounters with adversity and connection to the lives of ordinary people. This is so ubiquitous that it’s only when you read a Penguin Classic novel — when a Victorian character hides their “low” birth, or experiences the public shame of losing their fortune — that you remember it was not ever thus. Of course, today’s egalitarian norms are unquestionably a good thing. But they make people more likely to disguise their advantages, and to focus on the aspects of their identity which are untainted by privilege.

The second factor is economic. Despite the egalitarian mores described above, the UK economy is in fact — like many developed nations — deeply unequal and getting more so. This contradiction reflects the phenomenon of the past 70 years, whereby the Left have won cultural battles but lost economic ones. You’re more likely to hear a Geordie accent reading the news, but your economic prospects if you’re from the North-East are comparatively worse. An unequal economy leads to working-class identification, I think, because the human tendency is often to look upwards for comparisons rather than down. The presence among us of people with vast riches make us all feel poorer.

An economically unequal society also means, over time, that wealth — particularly housing wealth, often thanks to inheritance — begins to matter more than income. This compounds the importance of our parents’ social class, as a determinant of identity. Let’s take a working-class-born 30-something in a well-paid job. If this person cannot afford a property inside the M25 despite a good salary, they’ll probably feel more closely wedded to their upbringing — especially if they watch middle-class-born contemporaries gifted money from parents to buy a house.

The final factor is our individualistic culture. A study from a few years ago, for example, found that “language in American books has become increasingly focused on the self and uniqueness in the decades since 1960”. Each person, it seems, wants to feel that they have a distinctive merit and story of their own. This has surely accelerated in the age of social media, and nor is it necessarily a bad thing. A focus on the innate value of the individual can lead away from nativism, just as it can open the door to narcissism.

But it means that we put a greater focus on our own personal narratives. And these narratives usually need a hurdle or two to overcome, in order to carry meaning. Otherwise, you’re starting the book at the end. One effect of individualism, therefore, is that you get large numbers of embarrassed meritocrats, who feel they need to construct a reality in which they’re swimming against the tide.

Given the deterministic quality of the above, one could be forgiven for asking: does any of it matter? But for those looking to advance fairness and equality, I believe it does. Part of the reason why concerns the political debate itself. Many elements of our modern culture war boil down, on both Left and Right, to arguments around who is truly privileged, who is pretending to be and who has the right to decide. These can never be resolved without a full audit of each person’s “lived experience”. But they cause a massive distraction and leave all parties feeling misunderstood.

The other aspect is particularly important for progressive politics. Policy-making gets a lot harder, from a Left-liberal perspective, if large numbers of society’s “haves” believe they are its “have nots”. The Corbyn project’s focus on free higher education was a good example of where this leads — to initiatives which pose as egalitarian victories, while in effect helping those who are already doing well.

During the Eighties and Nineties, political arguments on the Left were often about the need to understand aspiration. Maybe, two decades into a new century, we need to start thinking about how we handle its opposite.


Chris Clarke is a social researcher and former political press officer, and is the author of The Dark Knight and the Puppet Master

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Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

If you consider the Allyship narrative, that “we” are Allies, fighting with the Oppressed Peoples against the White Oppressors, I think you can see why many educated middle-class professionals identify as working class.
Plus, of course, many educated professionals are really nothing more than educated salaried Barnacles working for some corporate or NGO or gubmint Circumlocution Office.
Like the lefty twits at Twitter.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

Good comment. I’m a total fan of Little Dorrit.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

There are quite a few well-salaried fools nowadays who quite clearly only advanced at all due to mouthing the correct political pieties at university and in job interviews. There’s no denying that if “useful idiot” was a formal job title, it would represent a profession in its own right by now.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

It would be interesting to read a Job Description and Person Spec for such a post.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

It starts with “PPE graduate from Oxford”

Julian Stephenson
Julian Stephenson
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

First, before name, pronouns.

CV’s
“I’ve always loved the idea of throwing half in the bin unread to avoid employing unlucky people.”

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

It starts with “PPE graduate from Oxford”

Julian Stephenson
Julian Stephenson
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

First, before name, pronouns.

CV’s
“I’ve always loved the idea of throwing half in the bin unread to avoid employing unlucky people.”

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

It would be interesting to read a Job Description and Person Spec for such a post.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago

Most educated people these days are exactly that. Salaried barnacles. Therefore they are workers and therefore belong to the class of workers, and therefore to the working class.

For some reason the definition of working class changed over time to mean a certain type of work, or accent or even location of birth. It’s on the way to describing mostly non workers now

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago

What an insult to the actual working class. The working class are the brick layers, plumbers, electricians and more. In short, the country would cease to operate without their labour. Salaried barnacles, such as a Diversity and Inclusion Officer on £65k a year are most definitely not workers! It seems obvious to me that an ever-increasing percentage of the population hold pointless nonjobs, produce nothing and do nothing of value. Deep down they know this to be true. It’s a reality so horrifying, they desperately try to identify as working class to feel better about themselves.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

You, however, are absolutely vital, no doubt.
There are an awful lot of newspaper columnists who fret about the same thing- ‘whyohwhy are there so many useless people ding useless jobs’, says Daily Mail columnist Vera Rantingcolumnist.

Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I won’t be specific but work for a large utility that operates as a form of private monopoly. I have no delusions of grandeur. Plenty of others could do my job if I were not here. However, the job itself is essential. Assuming you enjoy water, gas and electricity? As I sit here typing this in a massive, luxury headquarters building, filled with thousands of staff. I can tell you as a matter of fact, if more than 50% of them vanished over night, nothing would change. I know this to be true because – COVID. It immediately became apparent, exactly who was vital and who was not. The whole organisation could operate perfectly well with a fraction of current staff, working from a cheap industrial estate somewhere.
Why you have such a hostile bad attitude I don’t know. You are the one who is paying for all this profligate waste through your utility bills. You would have to be blind or long since retired not to understand, just how much of the UK workforce carry out jobs that produce nothing of value. Perhaps you are “of the left” and my mention of Diversity Officers triggered you. I only picked that example as the new DEI religion has run riot though this organisation. All it has done is added to the thousands of people studiously compiling figures that no one cares about and participating in meetings that achieve the square route of nothing. What drives it, is the same thing driving growth in all other “non jobs”. An over educated, self interested, virtue signalling, elite class, who game the system to benefit them selves and anyone who looks and sounds like them. “Diverse” they are not!
20 years of ever declining interest rates. Over active money printing and the continuing de-industrialisation of the Western world have helped them lead us here. Why do you think average incomes have barely moved in decades? Mark my words… Some day we will experience the kind of recession that can’t be avoided by a bit of clever financial engineering – 1929 style. When that day comes anyone not 100% essential to the survival of a business will get canned faster than a latte quaffing, tofu munching twitter employee, post Elon.

George Stone
George Stone
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

AI will change this no doubt.

Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I won’t be specific but work for a large utility that operates as a form of private monopoly. I have no delusions of grandeur. Plenty of others could do my job if I were not here. However, the job itself is essential. Assuming you enjoy water, gas and electricity? As I sit here typing this in a massive, luxury headquarters building, filled with thousands of staff. I can tell you as a matter of fact, if more than 50% of them vanished over night, nothing would change. I know this to be true because – COVID. It immediately became apparent, exactly who was vital and who was not. The whole organisation could operate perfectly well with a fraction of current staff, working from a cheap industrial estate somewhere.
Why you have such a hostile bad attitude I don’t know. You are the one who is paying for all this profligate waste through your utility bills. You would have to be blind or long since retired not to understand, just how much of the UK workforce carry out jobs that produce nothing of value. Perhaps you are “of the left” and my mention of Diversity Officers triggered you. I only picked that example as the new DEI religion has run riot though this organisation. All it has done is added to the thousands of people studiously compiling figures that no one cares about and participating in meetings that achieve the square route of nothing. What drives it, is the same thing driving growth in all other “non jobs”. An over educated, self interested, virtue signalling, elite class, who game the system to benefit them selves and anyone who looks and sounds like them. “Diverse” they are not!
20 years of ever declining interest rates. Over active money printing and the continuing de-industrialisation of the Western world have helped them lead us here. Why do you think average incomes have barely moved in decades? Mark my words… Some day we will experience the kind of recession that can’t be avoided by a bit of clever financial engineering – 1929 style. When that day comes anyone not 100% essential to the survival of a business will get canned faster than a latte quaffing, tofu munching twitter employee, post Elon.

George Stone
George Stone
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

AI will change this no doubt.

Tony Sandy
Tony Sandy
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

If this carries on, what we will eventually end up with is nobody willing to do anything but still wanting to get paid for it (and at a premium rate). Yes as someone said earlier, the true working class are those that actually do physical work (farmers (not gentlemen farmers, who tell others what to do), engineers, builders, carpenters etc). Yes skilled workers progress into management, telling others what to do but they didn’t start off there, if they are any good. Inheriting any position in society through family connections, can be disastrous. This doesn’t mean I believe in the myth that the middle and upper classes have an easy life and are spoon fed.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

Hi Adam. Anybody who works for a wage or a salary, and has to to live, is a worker. Anybody who rents is a renter. Whether or not companies should be hiring diversity officers is moot (they shouldn’t). In fact electricians, plumbers and bricklayers often work for themselves and are not employees – which is often the definition of working class.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago

I’m not sure what the point you’re trying to make is…
Technically, a “Head of Diversity and Inclusion” officer on £100k, renting a massive 5 bedroom detached mansion in Surrey, is both a worker and a renter…
As they float around the attached swimming pool, I’m not sure many people would accuse them of being working class.
Maybe we need a better, more specific definition. One fit for the 21st century. Producer / Exploiter…? Possibly the only thing Marx and I would both approve of 🙂

Last edited 1 year ago by Adam 0
Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago

I’m not sure what the point you’re trying to make is…
Technically, a “Head of Diversity and Inclusion” officer on £100k, renting a massive 5 bedroom detached mansion in Surrey, is both a worker and a renter…
As they float around the attached swimming pool, I’m not sure many people would accuse them of being working class.
Maybe we need a better, more specific definition. One fit for the 21st century. Producer / Exploiter…? Possibly the only thing Marx and I would both approve of 🙂

Last edited 1 year ago by Adam 0
John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

You, however, are absolutely vital, no doubt.
There are an awful lot of newspaper columnists who fret about the same thing- ‘whyohwhy are there so many useless people ding useless jobs’, says Daily Mail columnist Vera Rantingcolumnist.

Tony Sandy
Tony Sandy
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

If this carries on, what we will eventually end up with is nobody willing to do anything but still wanting to get paid for it (and at a premium rate). Yes as someone said earlier, the true working class are those that actually do physical work (farmers (not gentlemen farmers, who tell others what to do), engineers, builders, carpenters etc). Yes skilled workers progress into management, telling others what to do but they didn’t start off there, if they are any good. Inheriting any position in society through family connections, can be disastrous. This doesn’t mean I believe in the myth that the middle and upper classes have an easy life and are spoon fed.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

Hi Adam. Anybody who works for a wage or a salary, and has to to live, is a worker. Anybody who rents is a renter. Whether or not companies should be hiring diversity officers is moot (they shouldn’t). In fact electricians, plumbers and bricklayers often work for themselves and are not employees – which is often the definition of working class.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago

What an insult to the actual working class. The working class are the brick layers, plumbers, electricians and more. In short, the country would cease to operate without their labour. Salaried barnacles, such as a Diversity and Inclusion Officer on £65k a year are most definitely not workers! It seems obvious to me that an ever-increasing percentage of the population hold pointless nonjobs, produce nothing and do nothing of value. Deep down they know this to be true. It’s a reality so horrifying, they desperately try to identify as working class to feel better about themselves.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

Good comment. I’m a total fan of Little Dorrit.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

There are quite a few well-salaried fools nowadays who quite clearly only advanced at all due to mouthing the correct political pieties at university and in job interviews. There’s no denying that if “useful idiot” was a formal job title, it would represent a profession in its own right by now.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago

Most educated people these days are exactly that. Salaried barnacles. Therefore they are workers and therefore belong to the class of workers, and therefore to the working class.

For some reason the definition of working class changed over time to mean a certain type of work, or accent or even location of birth. It’s on the way to describing mostly non workers now

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

If you consider the Allyship narrative, that “we” are Allies, fighting with the Oppressed Peoples against the White Oppressors, I think you can see why many educated middle-class professionals identify as working class.
Plus, of course, many educated professionals are really nothing more than educated salaried Barnacles working for some corporate or NGO or gubmint Circumlocution Office.
Like the lefty twits at Twitter.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago

Ever since I purchased a petrol operated lawnmower and a greenhouse, I have considered myself a member of the bourgeoisie.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

They used to say that you are middle class if your bookshelf is bigger than your TV flat screen. We no longer have a telly because we can watch the same rubbish on the computer. So we became middle class by default.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

By that metric I’m almost upper class, though given my bookshelves are half-full of Thomas Sowell, Roger Scruton, Jeremy Clarkson and a load of climate sceptical publications amongst my large collection of popular science books, I’m not sure I’d be welcome amongst the self-declared intelligentsia who also satisfy the requirement.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Guy Aston
Guy Aston
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I have a wall and-a-half of bookshelves, does that make me royalty?(My TV is 36”)

George Kellaway
George Kellaway
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

What? Only 36″!

John Roseveare
John Roseveare
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

I have just measured my TV and bookshelves and now self-identify as an aristocrat – probably an Earl or Duke. Now I need to construct a humble back story and will use Chris Clarke’s theory here, together with Thomas Piketty’s overarching division of Brahmin Left (where the progressive down-players are found) and Merchant Right (boot-strappers etc). For my playbook I’ll use the thoughts of Jo Strummer from The Clash (public school, son of a diplomat) who apparently spoke on behalf of the ‘downtrodden kids’. I’ll need to explain how much I care while doing pretty much exactly as I please, and construct clever answers when I’m accused of being all about rights rather than responsibilities. Any tips?

Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
1 year ago
Reply to  John Roseveare

Yes, I have a tip. You should read another of today’s offerings “The Art World’s Lost Sense of Humour” and then consider whether the intention of your words could be misinterpreted.

John Roseveare
John Roseveare
1 year ago
Reply to  Rick Lawrence

Thanks for the tip. I read the ‘Lost Sense of Humour’ article and agree with all of it.
Fair enough. Like the splayed frog, my satiric joke might look lame were it to be dissected. The racing certainty is that satire – even in its weaker forms – will overcome the nonsense currently infecting our cultural institutions. Metaphors, absurdities, juxtapositions, ambiguities and paradoxes will arrive in our funny bones come what may. My AI-robot friends simply don’t get it – though they might bore us to death in the trying.

John Roseveare
John Roseveare
1 year ago
Reply to  Rick Lawrence

Thanks for the tip. I read the ‘Lost Sense of Humour’ article and agree with all of it.
Fair enough. Like the splayed frog, my satiric joke might look lame were it to be dissected. The racing certainty is that satire – even in its weaker forms – will overcome the nonsense currently infecting our cultural institutions. Metaphors, absurdities, juxtapositions, ambiguities and paradoxes will arrive in our funny bones come what may. My AI-robot friends simply don’t get it – though they might bore us to death in the trying.

Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
1 year ago
Reply to  John Roseveare

Yes, I have a tip. You should read another of today’s offerings “The Art World’s Lost Sense of Humour” and then consider whether the intention of your words could be misinterpreted.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

Our television is 42″, but we have about 7,000 books (I haven’t counted them for some time). So I’m clearly Empress of the World.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

How long is your wall? Most toilet walls probably don’t count.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Well if it is a toilet wall, then that means working class. A lavatory wall, by contratst, definitely counts as middle class.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

rears, jakes….

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

rears, jakes….

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

toilet?

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Well if it is a toilet wall, then that means working class. A lavatory wall, by contratst, definitely counts as middle class.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

toilet?

George Kellaway
George Kellaway
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

What? Only 36″!

John Roseveare
John Roseveare
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

I have just measured my TV and bookshelves and now self-identify as an aristocrat – probably an Earl or Duke. Now I need to construct a humble back story and will use Chris Clarke’s theory here, together with Thomas Piketty’s overarching division of Brahmin Left (where the progressive down-players are found) and Merchant Right (boot-strappers etc). For my playbook I’ll use the thoughts of Jo Strummer from The Clash (public school, son of a diplomat) who apparently spoke on behalf of the ‘downtrodden kids’. I’ll need to explain how much I care while doing pretty much exactly as I please, and construct clever answers when I’m accused of being all about rights rather than responsibilities. Any tips?

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

Our television is 42″, but we have about 7,000 books (I haven’t counted them for some time). So I’m clearly Empress of the World.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

How long is your wall? Most toilet walls probably don’t count.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

If you have a big thing about “climate sceptical” (i.e., scientifically confused) publications, then you probably wouldn’t impress any actual scientists, either- as opposed to know-nothing blowhards like Clarkson, Dellingpole et al.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Right back at you. Adherence to a secular doom-cult religion does not entitle you to make such remarks and get taken seriously. Climate sceptical science is entirely sound – it is the politicised rubbish that promotes alarmism that has no place in any rational debate.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Right back at you. Adherence to a secular doom-cult religion does not entitle you to make such remarks and get taken seriously. Climate sceptical science is entirely sound – it is the politicised rubbish that promotes alarmism that has no place in any rational debate.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Guy Aston
Guy Aston
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I have a wall and-a-half of bookshelves, does that make me royalty?(My TV is 36”)

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

If you have a big thing about “climate sceptical” (i.e., scientifically confused) publications, then you probably wouldn’t impress any actual scientists, either- as opposed to know-nothing blowhards like Clarkson, Dellingpole et al.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

I never heard that before. Yipee! I pass the test and can leave my working class roots behind. (Reality check. I never had any.)

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

Are you required to have read all the books (excluding reference works)? I have a fairly big telly and also a well stocked bookcase, but I often buy books faster than I read them.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago

Good point. I reckon you are still middle class because at least you must have had an aspiration to read them. I have a different problem with our bookshelf. I always hide the “penny dreadfuls” at the back of the respectable books, but my missus insists on shelving the trashy wee novelettes where visitors can see the titles.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

The aspirational element is certainly relevant. My parents used Grammar School education and vocational training to enter the world of well paid professional careers. Both came from working class families and epitomised post war aspiration. I am very grateful to them for giving me a decent start and have no desire to either make myself poorer or engage in expressing luxury beliefs.

Essentially, I hold the aspirational, working class Tory values of the older generations of my family and loathe the middle class virtue-signalling and faux victimhood that I see every day. But my telly to book ratio, education level and white collar job mark me out as hopelessly middle class. I do feel that this experience, which is common to many people I know, is missing from this article.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

The aspirational element is certainly relevant. My parents used Grammar School education and vocational training to enter the world of well paid professional careers. Both came from working class families and epitomised post war aspiration. I am very grateful to them for giving me a decent start and have no desire to either make myself poorer or engage in expressing luxury beliefs.

Essentially, I hold the aspirational, working class Tory values of the older generations of my family and loathe the middle class virtue-signalling and faux victimhood that I see every day. But my telly to book ratio, education level and white collar job mark me out as hopelessly middle class. I do feel that this experience, which is common to many people I know, is missing from this article.

Kevin Hansen
Kevin Hansen
1 year ago

I have a massive telly, so big that it won’t go on the wall and I can’t find a stand big enough for it. Therefore I have constructed a stand made up of my collection of classic books by such literary giants as Tolstoy, Waugh, Dickens and Jeffrey Archer amongst many others.Can anyone help as I am confused re my social status? Thanks

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

As my students would say: “Actual LOLs” ( if I’ve remembered the term correctly). Mr Hansen wins the Net.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

You have now taken the theory into the realm of conceptual art. May I congratulate you on both your ingenuity and creativity.

However, this merely moves the debate on to the question of whether your domestic sculpture has its roots in working or middle class consciousness.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alphonse Pfarti
Brenda Holliday
Brenda Holliday
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

These comments are a laugh a minute. I am having a high old time reading them. Thanks!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

otherwise known as a ” cretins super lantern”

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

As my students would say: “Actual LOLs” ( if I’ve remembered the term correctly). Mr Hansen wins the Net.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

You have now taken the theory into the realm of conceptual art. May I congratulate you on both your ingenuity and creativity.

However, this merely moves the debate on to the question of whether your domestic sculpture has its roots in working or middle class consciousness.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alphonse Pfarti
Brenda Holliday
Brenda Holliday
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

These comments are a laugh a minute. I am having a high old time reading them. Thanks!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

otherwise known as a ” cretins super lantern”

Jim Quirk
Jim Quirk
1 year ago

I keep the books in case I want to read them and have forgotten what’s in them or why I bought them.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago

Good point. I reckon you are still middle class because at least you must have had an aspiration to read them. I have a different problem with our bookshelf. I always hide the “penny dreadfuls” at the back of the respectable books, but my missus insists on shelving the trashy wee novelettes where visitors can see the titles.

Kevin Hansen
Kevin Hansen
1 year ago

I have a massive telly, so big that it won’t go on the wall and I can’t find a stand big enough for it. Therefore I have constructed a stand made up of my collection of classic books by such literary giants as Tolstoy, Waugh, Dickens and Jeffrey Archer amongst many others.Can anyone help as I am confused re my social status? Thanks

Jim Quirk
Jim Quirk
1 year ago

I keep the books in case I want to read them and have forgotten what’s in them or why I bought them.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

Or if you keep your lawnmower in the garage and your BMW parked outside the house.

Brenda Holliday
Brenda Holliday
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

I am still laughing!

Brenda Holliday
Brenda Holliday
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

I am still laughing!

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

I’ve got a big bookshelf, but nowhere near enough books to fill it. It’s mostly stacked with pictures, kids toys and any other array of rubbish so what does that make me?

Diane Tasker
Diane Tasker
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I couldn’t say but a novel idea would be to re-name it a storage shelf – you could get arty and take a page out of the useful idiots guide on Banksy and gush at dinner parties that it’s a ‘work in progress’ – no, wait, shelve that idea! Take a leaf out of Andy Warhol’s book! With a few flourishes you book your place in art history by transforming it into something that a useful idiot would photograph and hang in some posh exhibition – which will, of course, require one to book in advance!

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Good one. Much as I was called out as a middle-classer by my intention to read all the books on my overflowing shelves, did you purchase your bookcase with the intention of filling it with books, rather than pictures, toys and knick-knacks? If so, then I fear that yours is the same fate.

Diane Tasker
Diane Tasker
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I couldn’t say but a novel idea would be to re-name it a storage shelf – you could get arty and take a page out of the useful idiots guide on Banksy and gush at dinner parties that it’s a ‘work in progress’ – no, wait, shelve that idea! Take a leaf out of Andy Warhol’s book! With a few flourishes you book your place in art history by transforming it into something that a useful idiot would photograph and hang in some posh exhibition – which will, of course, require one to book in advance!

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Good one. Much as I was called out as a middle-classer by my intention to read all the books on my overflowing shelves, did you purchase your bookcase with the intention of filling it with books, rather than pictures, toys and knick-knacks? If so, then I fear that yours is the same fate.

Anna Knowles
Anna Knowles
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

I have 4000+ books and no TV. I got rid of my TV when the BBC became totally woke. I’ll buy another one when the BBC is funded by subscription rather than the licence fee.
I’m retired now, but describe myself as middle class from a working class background: family northern miners or army other ranks, but aspirational. Encouraged by my father I went to university 60 years ago when cleverer girls than I did secretarial courses.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

By that metric I’m almost upper class, though given my bookshelves are half-full of Thomas Sowell, Roger Scruton, Jeremy Clarkson and a load of climate sceptical publications amongst my large collection of popular science books, I’m not sure I’d be welcome amongst the self-declared intelligentsia who also satisfy the requirement.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

I never heard that before. Yipee! I pass the test and can leave my working class roots behind. (Reality check. I never had any.)

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

Are you required to have read all the books (excluding reference works)? I have a fairly big telly and also a well stocked bookcase, but I often buy books faster than I read them.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

Or if you keep your lawnmower in the garage and your BMW parked outside the house.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

I’ve got a big bookshelf, but nowhere near enough books to fill it. It’s mostly stacked with pictures, kids toys and any other array of rubbish so what does that make me?

Anna Knowles
Anna Knowles
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

I have 4000+ books and no TV. I got rid of my TV when the BBC became totally woke. I’ll buy another one when the BBC is funded by subscription rather than the licence fee.
I’m retired now, but describe myself as middle class from a working class background: family northern miners or army other ranks, but aspirational. Encouraged by my father I went to university 60 years ago when cleverer girls than I did secretarial courses.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

My children say that they must be a disappointment to me by being middleclass

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago

It’s the opposite for me – I think my kids find my muddy Kent accent far too estuarine…

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

“Estuarine” suggests that you’ve crossed the divide, whatever your accent.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

“Estuarine” suggests that you’ve crossed the divide, whatever your accent.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago

It’s the opposite for me – I think my kids find my muddy Kent accent far too estuarine…

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

They used to say that you are middle class if your bookshelf is bigger than your TV flat screen. We no longer have a telly because we can watch the same rubbish on the computer. So we became middle class by default.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

My children say that they must be a disappointment to me by being middleclass

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago

Ever since I purchased a petrol operated lawnmower and a greenhouse, I have considered myself a member of the bourgeoisie.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

Around sixty percent of us own property or have parents who do. To win elections politicians have to appeal to this class. Their policies will inevitably therefore prioritise the interests of the middle class – however supposedly egalitarian the rhetoric.

Ask yourself: who benefitted most from New Labour? Was it the blue collar classes who were finally completely excluded from the housing market by rising prices and whose social assets where destroyed by mass immigration?

Clearly not.

The best way to interpret intersectional progressivism is as a deflection: ‘no need to worry about the pauperisation of paramedics and fork lift drivers; they’re white and therefore privileged by definition. It’s us, the wealthy playpen workers who are suffering because we’re women or black or gay or just depressed’.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I think you’d need to back up your claim of “social assets destroyed by mass immigration” with something more than mere bald assertion. Even a definition of the phrase would be a start.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I think you’d need to back up your claim of “social assets destroyed by mass immigration” with something more than mere bald assertion. Even a definition of the phrase would be a start.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

Around sixty percent of us own property or have parents who do. To win elections politicians have to appeal to this class. Their policies will inevitably therefore prioritise the interests of the middle class – however supposedly egalitarian the rhetoric.

Ask yourself: who benefitted most from New Labour? Was it the blue collar classes who were finally completely excluded from the housing market by rising prices and whose social assets where destroyed by mass immigration?

Clearly not.

The best way to interpret intersectional progressivism is as a deflection: ‘no need to worry about the pauperisation of paramedics and fork lift drivers; they’re white and therefore privileged by definition. It’s us, the wealthy playpen workers who are suffering because we’re women or black or gay or just depressed’.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

It certainly matches anecdotal experience, this notion that there are more people now who possess what appears to be reverse aspiration. And I think the cult of victimhood plays a part here: victimhood is now the most valuable social currency, so everyone is trying to grab a slice of that identity. The point, though, is that this is still aspiration. It merely takes a peculiarly self-deluding and intellectually dishonest form, that’s all.

In a way it’s not that different to the traditional social climber of old: just because those people were typically viewed with snobbish disdain doesn’t mean that the modern day equivalent is any different in principle because the snobbery, too, has changed along with the pretence required for the aspiration.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

It certainly matches anecdotal experience, this notion that there are more people now who possess what appears to be reverse aspiration. And I think the cult of victimhood plays a part here: victimhood is now the most valuable social currency, so everyone is trying to grab a slice of that identity. The point, though, is that this is still aspiration. It merely takes a peculiarly self-deluding and intellectually dishonest form, that’s all.

In a way it’s not that different to the traditional social climber of old: just because those people were typically viewed with snobbish disdain doesn’t mean that the modern day equivalent is any different in principle because the snobbery, too, has changed along with the pretence required for the aspiration.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago

Thanks, Chris Clarke, for a great article! (More like this, please, Unherd.) A very long time ago when I was a student, my recollection is of middle class students pretending to be working class and the tiny number of working class students pretending to be middle class. According to Napoleon Bonaparte “To understand the man you have to know what was happening in the world when he was twenty.” Maybe that experience of handling dual identities as students (i.e. when they were twenty years old) has stayed with them, especially when they are responding to survey questions.
BTW, the majority of the middle-class-pretentending-to-be-proles gave the game away because they could never resist a bit of snobbery whenever they spotted another of us (usually me) committing a faux-pas.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago

Thanks, Chris Clarke, for a great article! (More like this, please, Unherd.) A very long time ago when I was a student, my recollection is of middle class students pretending to be working class and the tiny number of working class students pretending to be middle class. According to Napoleon Bonaparte “To understand the man you have to know what was happening in the world when he was twenty.” Maybe that experience of handling dual identities as students (i.e. when they were twenty years old) has stayed with them, especially when they are responding to survey questions.
BTW, the majority of the middle-class-pretentending-to-be-proles gave the game away because they could never resist a bit of snobbery whenever they spotted another of us (usually me) committing a faux-pas.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

Even among those earning over £62,000, half now say they’re working-class
So, what is the difference between this and a person who sports dreadlocks and a fake tan and identifies as a black person? Are not both egregious examples of cultural appropriation?

Last edited 1 year ago by Linda Hutchinson
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Quite ! As I said in another comment “Down with self-identification in all its forms !”. It’s all nonsense.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago

Agreed. And why can someone self-identify as female but not as black?

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

Someone tried that a few years back. It didn’t end well for them.
I’ll try and dig up some articles as the absurdity did it make it quite funny.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

The woman concerned actually said that she identified as “trans-black”

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

The woman concerned actually said that she identified as “trans-black”

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

Someone tried that a few years back. It didn’t end well for them.
I’ll try and dig up some articles as the absurdity did it make it quite funny.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago

Because someone earning over £62k could be a worker? Honestly the commentary section here isn’t the smartest.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Will Crozier
Will Crozier
1 year ago

I always understood both working class and middle class to be “workers” in the literal sense. The upper class were the ones so rich they didn’t need to work to remain wealthy. Middle class is basically a white collar worker (professional), at least one car, homeowner, building a decent pension, university educated, that sort of thing

Will Crozier
Will Crozier
1 year ago

I always understood both working class and middle class to be “workers” in the literal sense. The upper class were the ones so rich they didn’t need to work to remain wealthy. Middle class is basically a white collar worker (professional), at least one car, homeowner, building a decent pension, university educated, that sort of thing

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Quite ! As I said in another comment “Down with self-identification in all its forms !”. It’s all nonsense.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago

Agreed. And why can someone self-identify as female but not as black?

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago

Because someone earning over £62k could be a worker? Honestly the commentary section here isn’t the smartest.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

Even among those earning over £62,000, half now say they’re working-class
So, what is the difference between this and a person who sports dreadlocks and a fake tan and identifies as a black person? Are not both egregious examples of cultural appropriation?

Last edited 1 year ago by Linda Hutchinson
R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

Victimhood is all the rage. The only upside of a recession is it kicks some of the latte sipping faux middle class back down to earth.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

My husband and I introduced a Christmas game last year in which all participants try to score victim points. Obviously, the females and ethic minorities all have one point to start with, but there are others to be had: an immigrant great-grand-parent, Scottish/Irish/Welsh ancestry somewhere, having gone to university recently (remember going to university is a sure sign of victimhood). I am putting together a Scottish version of the game which allows a participant to put on a frock and identify as trans for the duration of the competition, along with characteristics which can cause a points deduction i.e. being English. Lots of fun to be had, and in the end you can all look disgustedly at the one straight, white, cis-, middle-class, non-university educated, middle-aged Englishman in the corner (how can he even bear to go on?)

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago

lol – best comment so far

Colin K
Colin K
1 year ago

Do I get to claim victim points for being Scottish now? I thought that being a straight white male of very pale complexion I was easilty bottom of the opression heirarchy.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin K

Scots are traditionally blue, rather than white. As comics used to say, they only achieve ‘white’ after a week on holiday.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin K

So you’re complaining of being at the bottom of the heirachy of victims- i.e, you’re claiming top victim status?
Bit ironic….

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin K

Yes, but only if you live in England (maybe in Wales too, but I leave that to the Welsh to decide), however you have to claim your status.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin K

Scots are traditionally blue, rather than white. As comics used to say, they only achieve ‘white’ after a week on holiday.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin K

So you’re complaining of being at the bottom of the heirachy of victims- i.e, you’re claiming top victim status?
Bit ironic….

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin K

Yes, but only if you live in England (maybe in Wales too, but I leave that to the Welsh to decide), however you have to claim your status.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

What a tiresomely trite and self-satisfied Christmas you have. Thank God I’m not invited. It must be lie having festive teeth pulled.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

And yours seems to be an irony-free zone.

Last edited 1 year ago by Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

And yours seems to be an irony-free zone.

Last edited 1 year ago by Linda Hutchinson
Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago

Sounds great. Can this be developed and sold for profit, like Monopoly? I could see this being wonderful fun after one’s turkey and Christmas pud.

Quick question – I own a kilt in the family plaid. Does this count as a frock if worn south of the border?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

This is the whole fun of the game, you can agreed different rules in different countries and even different households.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

This is the whole fun of the game, you can agreed different rules in different countries and even different households.

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago

lol – best comment so far

Colin K
Colin K
1 year ago

Do I get to claim victim points for being Scottish now? I thought that being a straight white male of very pale complexion I was easilty bottom of the opression heirarchy.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

What a tiresomely trite and self-satisfied Christmas you have. Thank God I’m not invited. It must be lie having festive teeth pulled.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago

Sounds great. Can this be developed and sold for profit, like Monopoly? I could see this being wonderful fun after one’s turkey and Christmas pud.

Quick question – I own a kilt in the family plaid. Does this count as a frock if worn south of the border?

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

That’s not the only upside to the recession that’s been ducked for far too long. It should clean out a lot of zombie companies and fraud (I feel we’re still scratching the surface on some of this – still getting started with the crypto mess). I’m going to sound callous here, but the creative destruction of recessions is necessary. We need to get away from this “no one can lost from change” mentality that’s set in in this country.
Ideally, we’d get rid of a lot of the fake universities (and a few fake charities) that the government insists on propping up. And starting putting the resources being wasted there to better use.
A correction to sensible house prices would also be welcome (I care far more about my son’s chance of owning a house than the inflated value of mine).
But I don’t see any of this happening.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I agree with you about house prices, though in my present situation – a house and a flat rented out both with mortgages – I should probably hope for a survival of the status quo.

But we have to get real: the present situation cannot survive if the next two generations include homeowners as a decreasing minority. It’s either prices falling to realistic levels, or wealth taxes dropped like a bomb on people who own property. There is no chance that millions of people will work hard and pay both taxes AND rents forever, which is what the existing socioeconomic situation clearly demands.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

John, I’d like to think there will be some corrective action so that younger people aren’t permanently locked out of home ownership (at least those without wealthy parents). I just don’t see it happening any time soon. Waiting one of two generations is too slow. There is no sign that any politicians take this seriously. Or really care about it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter B
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

John, I’d like to think there will be some corrective action so that younger people aren’t permanently locked out of home ownership (at least those without wealthy parents). I just don’t see it happening any time soon. Waiting one of two generations is too slow. There is no sign that any politicians take this seriously. Or really care about it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter B
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I agree with you about house prices, though in my present situation – a house and a flat rented out both with mortgages – I should probably hope for a survival of the status quo.

But we have to get real: the present situation cannot survive if the next two generations include homeowners as a decreasing minority. It’s either prices falling to realistic levels, or wealth taxes dropped like a bomb on people who own property. There is no chance that millions of people will work hard and pay both taxes AND rents forever, which is what the existing socioeconomic situation clearly demands.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

Recessions rarely affect the middle classes, properly defined.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

My husband and I introduced a Christmas game last year in which all participants try to score victim points. Obviously, the females and ethic minorities all have one point to start with, but there are others to be had: an immigrant great-grand-parent, Scottish/Irish/Welsh ancestry somewhere, having gone to university recently (remember going to university is a sure sign of victimhood). I am putting together a Scottish version of the game which allows a participant to put on a frock and identify as trans for the duration of the competition, along with characteristics which can cause a points deduction i.e. being English. Lots of fun to be had, and in the end you can all look disgustedly at the one straight, white, cis-, middle-class, non-university educated, middle-aged Englishman in the corner (how can he even bear to go on?)

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

That’s not the only upside to the recession that’s been ducked for far too long. It should clean out a lot of zombie companies and fraud (I feel we’re still scratching the surface on some of this – still getting started with the crypto mess). I’m going to sound callous here, but the creative destruction of recessions is necessary. We need to get away from this “no one can lost from change” mentality that’s set in in this country.
Ideally, we’d get rid of a lot of the fake universities (and a few fake charities) that the government insists on propping up. And starting putting the resources being wasted there to better use.
A correction to sensible house prices would also be welcome (I care far more about my son’s chance of owning a house than the inflated value of mine).
But I don’t see any of this happening.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

Recessions rarely affect the middle classes, properly defined.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

Victimhood is all the rage. The only upside of a recession is it kicks some of the latte sipping faux middle class back down to earth.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

I’m always tempted to say “who cares” about these labels any more. I consider myself someone who works for a living. Period. Labelling some people as “workers” or “working class” and not other workers seems absurd. And well past it’s use by date.
As ever with such labels, there’s no certain test for any of them. Coming from an engineering background, such unmeasurable and untestable terms are deeply suspect ! Down with self-identification in all its forms !
If we put a fraction of the time and energy that goes into this sort of debate into solving real problems, I think we’d be in a better place.
Quite by coincidence, I came across a quote from Warren Buffett this morning: “the world is driven by envy, not greed”.

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

The labels have a different meaning and purpose in different contexts.

To a marketing exec the A-B-C classification informs who you sell to and how you pitch that sale.

The traditional British Class System is based entirely on birth & family – you can be poor as a church mouse so long as you speak with a cut glass accent and have a pier in the family tree (preferably recently)

The Americans never understood that bit of the British class system – they think its purely income based and that its possible to move from one class to another

And you have the theory this article seems to follow that its your job description that determines your class. Closer to the ABC model but steeped in the language of class war.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Wise

I live in Bournemouth, and we have a lovely pier. Does that count?

Roger le Clercq
Roger le Clercq
1 year ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

Peerless, Rapierlike, Nuff Said.

Roger le Clercq
Roger le Clercq
1 year ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

Peerless, Rapierlike, Nuff Said.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Wise

He didn’t engage in „class war“ at all. He said he worked for a living. That makes him a worker.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Wise

I live in Bournemouth, and we have a lovely pier. Does that count?

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Wise

He didn’t engage in „class war“ at all. He said he worked for a living. That makes him a worker.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Quite. The author asks the question: “Given the deterministic quality of the above, one could be forgiven for asking: does any of it matter?” I would have stopped there while I was ahead.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Statistically, yes- it does. It matters hugely to your life prospects what your birth ‘class’ is, and that fact has been increasing.
You don’t like mentioning this, but that’s an entirely different matter.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Statistically, yes- it does. It matters hugely to your life prospects what your birth ‘class’ is, and that fact has been increasing.
You don’t like mentioning this, but that’s an entirely different matter.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

So if your birth ‘class’ (i.e., your wealth, property and job prospects) counts more now in terms of your ultimate ‘class’ than it has for some sixty years, that is of no consequence whatsoever?
If social and economic mobility is significantly declining, you think even mentioning this is mere “envy”? You find meritocracy an ‘envious’ idea?

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I’m not into the people classification stuff, period. The fact that’s it’s all totally subjective these days (effectively self-identified) just tells me what a waste of time it is. In many ways, it’s just another sort of virtue signalling for a lot of people – claiming to be “working class” when it defies credulity.
You’ve made some assumptions about me that aren’t quite right.
I quite like meritocracy. Always have. Partly because it dispenses with class and such nonsense (or at least would do if we really had it). And precisely because it should give opportunities based on ability and determination and not inherited wealth or contacts (I despise the nepotism you see in the arts, media and politics). All that said, in practice it’s impossible to level the playing field completely in a free society – not without losing freedom. And we may well find that some aspects of skills and perhaps intelligence are inherited. In which case we just have to accept that life’s unfair in some respects. We may not like that – I don’t particularly – but if that’s they way things are, we cannot change it.
If social and economic mobility truly is declining, that’s not a trend I welcome. But that’s an “if”. I’m fairly certain that “poverty” isn’t anywhere near as bad as claimed in the UK. Likewise, the definition of disability has been stretched so wide that it’s at risk of becoming meaningless. and diverting attention and resources from those really in need. We’d need to take a serious look at what measurements are being taken and how meaningful they really are.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I’m not into the people classification stuff, period. The fact that’s it’s all totally subjective these days (effectively self-identified) just tells me what a waste of time it is. In many ways, it’s just another sort of virtue signalling for a lot of people – claiming to be “working class” when it defies credulity.
You’ve made some assumptions about me that aren’t quite right.
I quite like meritocracy. Always have. Partly because it dispenses with class and such nonsense (or at least would do if we really had it). And precisely because it should give opportunities based on ability and determination and not inherited wealth or contacts (I despise the nepotism you see in the arts, media and politics). All that said, in practice it’s impossible to level the playing field completely in a free society – not without losing freedom. And we may well find that some aspects of skills and perhaps intelligence are inherited. In which case we just have to accept that life’s unfair in some respects. We may not like that – I don’t particularly – but if that’s they way things are, we cannot change it.
If social and economic mobility truly is declining, that’s not a trend I welcome. But that’s an “if”. I’m fairly certain that “poverty” isn’t anywhere near as bad as claimed in the UK. Likewise, the definition of disability has been stretched so wide that it’s at risk of becoming meaningless. and diverting attention and resources from those really in need. We’d need to take a serious look at what measurements are being taken and how meaningful they really are.

William Goodwin
William Goodwin
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

To be accurate, it was Charlie Munger, Buffet’s business partner who uttered the memorable words, not Buffet.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Thanks for the correction ! I find they’re both well worth listening to.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Thanks for the correction ! I find they’re both well worth listening to.

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

The labels have a different meaning and purpose in different contexts.

To a marketing exec the A-B-C classification informs who you sell to and how you pitch that sale.

The traditional British Class System is based entirely on birth & family – you can be poor as a church mouse so long as you speak with a cut glass accent and have a pier in the family tree (preferably recently)

The Americans never understood that bit of the British class system – they think its purely income based and that its possible to move from one class to another

And you have the theory this article seems to follow that its your job description that determines your class. Closer to the ABC model but steeped in the language of class war.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Quite. The author asks the question: “Given the deterministic quality of the above, one could be forgiven for asking: does any of it matter?” I would have stopped there while I was ahead.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago