A Touch of Class

December 8, 2009

Yesterday The Independent announced the findings of research produced by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers which suggest that the rich and the middle class are facing the biggest squeeze on their living standards in decades. Today the same paper has reported that a million public sector jobs , including frontline roles in the NHS and the police, may have to be axed if the Government is to cut its deficit. And as our good friend Mr Bone has pointed out; “A poll in today’s guardian shows over 50%  of people to believe class is a defining issue in Britain.”

The Barnsdale Brigade (and pretty much everyone we know) are in the low income bracket so we cannot genuinely say that we overly concerned about the fortunes of Middle England (let’s face it, they never showed any concern for us). But this is not the time to say ‘I told you so!’*

In the coming months and years the class war will heat up as the problems of impoverishment become more immediate to more people (of all classes). People who were once comfortable with their lot will begin to question the legitimacy of one of the most class divided societies on the planet. There will be no better opportunity to galvanise our ongoing campaign against classism and build a political movement that truly represents the interests of the working class.

Our attempts to organise against classism failed partly due to funding, but also because it is a problem that is largely invisible to those who do not suffer it’s blows. As we said on the Action Against Classism website…

Economic inequality in the UK is at the highest it has been since records began in 1961. A child’s social class background at birth is still the best indicator of how well he or she will do in school and later on in life. The lower your socio-economic position the greater your risk of low birth-weight, infections, cancer, coronary heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, accidents, nervous and mental illnesses – in other words, class kills!

Class remains as important an issue as climate (in fact the climate issue will not be solved until class is taken into consideration), but it has been almost universally ignored for over 20 years thanks to the politician’s and the media’s pretence that we’re somehow all middle class now. But that time has passed, the veneer is cracking – it’s time to organise!

*But we bloody did!

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7 Responses to “A Touch of Class”

  1. […] The Barnsdale Brigade (and pretty much everyone we know) are in the low income bracket so we cannot genuinely say that we overly concerned about the fortunes of Middle England (let’s face it, they never showed any concern for us). But this is not the time to say ‘I told you so!’* […]

  2. Ellie said

    Hi

    I am writing an article on Mayor Davies and I was wondering if you could give me some info?

    Drop me an email if you can

    Cheers
    Ellie

  3. JohnFromDon said

    I just find all this Class War thing pretty funny, as it tries to group people who have done well for themselves into some two-headded monster.

    I have a business that I have built from scratch, own my own house – a 4 bedroom detatched, brand new car, but I have no qualifications and come from a working class background from a mining village in Doncaster.

    I haven’t been born with a silver spoon in my mouth, nor have I had any help or fancy handouts by family, just hard work – and when I say hard work, I mean working the 20-odd hours most days for 4 years on the trot and determination has got me to where I am now.

    So am I the enemy because I felt I could do better with my life and try to achieve something or should I have just wallowed in self-pity or be jealous of others who managed to get up off their backsides and build a better future?

  4. Class War - Barnsdale Brigade said

    Nice email address 😉

    To be honest Jon if you’re truly happy with your material possessions then good for you; nice one. But in reality we are just farts upon a breeze; mere bubbles in a boiling pot – life’s too short to slave away 100 hours a week for status symbols, we’d much rather spend time with our kids. Beyond shelter, a full belly, companionship and a comfortable pair of shoes there is only entertainment – which is all well and good, but you’ve got to ask yourself ‘who suffers for yours?’

    Ours is not the ‘politics of envy’. We really don’t care how much money you have or how big your driveway is; we don’t even care that the rich load the dice in their own favour. But we’re totally pissed off that so many bright kids have the dice weighed against them. Our beef is with INSTITUTIONALISED CLASSISM, not the fact that we don’t own a 52” wide-screen TV.

    If you really want to get an idea about where we’re coming from read the following report…

    http://www.runnymedetrust.org/uploads/publications/pdfs/WhoCaresAboutTheWhiteWorkingClass-2009.pdf

    We’re concerned with giving working class kids the potential (and the space) to flourish; to realise this we must fight for equal opportunities and an equal access to resources regardless of socio-economic background. We don’t give a shit if somebody feels the need to hoard material wealth (though simple mathematics dictates that if someone has too much of something then somebody else will have to go without), but we do care that 1/3 of this country’s kids are living in relative poverty. Relative poverty may sound like petty jealousy to a man with a 4 bedroom detached house, but Richard Wilkinson’s work, outlined in his book ‘The Spirit Level’, shows that it is the level of inequality within a given society (aka ‘relative poverty’), rather than any given amount of wealth which is responsible for the most damaging effects of impoverishment. We’re sorry if this offends you, but hey, you’re quite happy to offend anyone who happens to be less well-off than you with your Daily-Mailesque “self-pity”, “jealous” and “get up off their backsides” digs.

  5. JohnFromDon said

    My Arse, thank you for that 🙂

    I suppose there are levels of materialism. I wouldn’t say I was a slave to branding as it were, but I do like some nice things, and like to provide nice things for my family. But where I could have bought a big and brash BMW, I haven’t as I would sooner spend that money on us. To be honest I would sooner have a chippy tea than any of that poncy food from a poncy restauraunt. ;o)

    Equally we are a long time dead, and I think its good to try and make life better for us whilst we are here and potentially leave a legacy behind for family.

    Of course shelter, food and clothes are what we all need. I would never advocate to spend huge sums on clothing brands, but I don’t see the issue of spending that money on buying a nice house in an area where the school is good. Education is equally important – this I can say due to not really having any.

    I wasn’t necessarily implying that you pedle ‘politics of envy’. You do get alot of people who do.

    I think some of your motives are truly honourable, and I do agree with you that bright kids are thrown on the scrapheap – those dice were weighed against me as well. However, I actually want to help kids like that, especially from similar or worse backgrounds – this I will be able to do.

    I don’t have a 52″ TV, I am not allowed one 😦

    I don’t need to read reports about relative poverty. I am not one of these people who sit in some ivory tower and ignore how people live. As I have said before, I am from Doncaster and I grew up on a council estate in a mining viliage, my sister was a single parent family with 2 kids, my dad worked for a state-run company and my mother was disabled and I lfet school with no qualifications. If I was to conform to demographics – I should be in a far worse state than I am.

    It is equally easy however, for people with not very much to look at people who may have more than them and have resentment for what they have achieved. I have experienced, worked and lived with people like this.

    I am not offended with what you have said, afterall we do live in a democracy and we are entitled to our opinion. However, there is an element of truth in what I have said. There are many people out there who would rather than do anything about their situation. They would sooner feel all sorry for themselves and there are some who are jealous of other people who may have achieved more than them.

    I think one of the most fundamental issues with our society is not who has this and who hasn’t, its more to do with respect for everyone and themselves. Its easy for the Goevernment and everyone to blame all our society ills on binge drinking, teengage pregnancy, violence on TV and the likes – but these things have been going on for years and years. It boils down to nobody respecting each other – no matter what background anyone comes from, no matter their political persuasion, gender, race etc. As I was brought up to believe – there are good and bad in everyone and not to forget your roots.

  6. Class War - Barnsdale Brigade said

    Seems we share a lot of common ground, we’re not allowed a 52″ TV either 😉

    No seriously, we’ve had pretty much the same life experiences and we’re not the sort of people to sit on the sidelines of life bemoaning our fate. We find this a lot; once you get beyond the political rhetoric we all want pretty much the same things in life. The only difference is that you emphasise the individual responsibility (respect) where we look at the responsibilities of society and communities (mutual aid). A fair society would be a balance of the two; freethinking, autonomous individuals with enough emotional maturity to work for the benefit of all. I know you don’t like book recommendations, but Peter Kropotkin’s ‘Mutual Aid’ gives a good scientific basis for such beliefs.

    We would say that respect, empathy and mutual aid are all undermined by the present culture. You point out that some people are jealous of those who have more than themselves, but some of the most bitter comments are directed at people who are perceived to be less fortunate. The rise of sites like ‘Chav Town’ show a level of hatred which turns the stomach. Jealousy and resentment are both symptoms of a neoliberal, dog-eat-dog mentality which is endemic in modern society. This is what we see as our ‘enemy’ when we choose to fight classism. And while we’re on the subject of classism, “there are good and bad in everyone and not to forget your roots” sounds like a good anti-classism motto to us 😉

    • JohnFromDon said

      I think to be honest MA, that most people think along these lines – however where in the political spectrum we all lie. The old mantra of treat people how you would expect to be treated – is still as important as all those years ago it was probably first muttered.

      I thnk alot of people bemoan the Chav culture, pure ans simply because of the way they seem to protray themselves and seem not to do themselves any favours. A little like the “Ah Beng” of Singaporean culture. But having said all that, you could stereotype them as all being ignorant innit, but only yesterday I had 2 come up to me and ask directions with please and thanks – very well mannered and polite. Maybe because we gave them the same courtosy back.

      To be honest, I am sure Chavs are hated more for those silly loud exhausts on their cars rather than their other traits 😉

      Again sometimes there is an element of negative snobbery – where someone less well off will look down at people who may have a bit more than them. I had it with an ex when I spoke to her about a friend of mine from Bessacarr – “Oh they must be rate posh and snobby”, which indeed she was totally wrong.

      I know some people with a bit of cash or status – they become deluded on it and as such become up their own arse and forget how to treat people. I think you get that with everything though.

      Jealousy is the food of fools – and why should we be jealous of a neighbour who buys a new car or indeed gets a good job with a nice salary.

      Thanks for that, a good motto to use and indeed live to – I hope you use it as a strapline on your website 😉

      I can understand your fight – but not all people with a bit of cash are the enemy. 😉

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