Ronda Daniel in politics.co.uk is trying to make it seem that left-wingers have as much hatred for the working class as the members of Tory grassroots group Activate who wanted to burn “chavs” in a WhatsApp chat.
No. That’s a mistake.
She starts well – discussing the Activate comments and their historical precedents that go back to the early 19th century at least:
These shameless and blase messages are a standard depiction of how working class people are perceived in Britain.
These perceptions are part of a larger ideology ingrained in society since at least the 1800, where it was believed that “paupers in England were shameless”. The dehumanising language used in the WhatsApp group is really not so different from that used in the Victorian period. A little later, famed economist and director of the Eugenics Society John Maynard Keynes held the view that contraception was vital because the working class was too “drunken and ignorant”. Today, these historical ideas are exemplified by Activate’s message thread, where the working class are seen as anti-social, shameless and endlessly producing children.
It’s easy to recognise the age-old stereotype of a young Tory hating the working class. It’s much harder to see how far back these views go and how widely they are held, even among those we consider allies.
But then she writes this:
Left wingers often hold just as much contempt for the poor as right wingers. In June last year, when the Brexit result was announced, several Remainers on social media posted messages which suggested a connection between racism and the working class. One image I saw being circulated said: “Totally failed at life? Then why not blame a foreigner? It’s so much easier than taking responsibility for your own poor choices.”
Here, “to fail” was to be poor. Poverty was about choice and not circumstance. This also assumed that only working class people voted Leave and that their vote was entirely motivated by xenophobia. People who apparently pride themselves on tolerance and left wing values started to show their hatred towards the working class, as someone to ‘blame‘ for Brexit.
This is full of false assumptions.
Firstly, those who voted Remain in the EU referendum were not solely left-wingers so it is wrong to attribute comments connecting racism and the working class to them.
I don’t know any left-winger who would equate being poor with having “failed at life”. That’s a right-wing suggestion. Tories judge people by their financial well-being, not socialists.
Tories also like to claim poverty is a choice – look at the demonisation of benefit claimants.
So the claim that “people who apparently pride themselves on tolerance and left wing values” hate the working class and “blame” them for Brexit is false – or so it seems to This Writer.
I wonder why Ronda Daniel wants to put that idea in our heads.
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