jump to navigation

Contempt and pity… July 7, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
trackback

Thought this by Kenan Malik in the Observer is well judged. He writes about how:

…[in the late 1960s] the Tory leader, Edward Heath, drove through the north-east of England. “If I lived here,” he remarked to a friend, as Dominic Sandbrook recounts in his book White Heat, “I wouldn’t vote for Harold Wilson. And I wouldn’t vote for myself either.” “Who would you vote for?” asked his friend. “Robespierre,” Heath replied.

But he notes that:

It’s a reminder that many of the themes that dominate British politics today – the cleavage between London and the provinces, the chasm between the working class and the elite, the contempt and pity for the “left behind” – run deep into our political history.

I can’t look at Dominic Cummings without seeing that admixture of attitudes. And similarly with many Tories, though Cummings famously doesn’t consider himself a Tory and has never been a member of the party.

One can overdo the issue of disconnects between ‘elites’ and the working class, both terms being open to prodding at to destruction. But Malik notes too that this last week:

…the academic research initiative The UK in a Changing Europe published a study showing how both Labour and the Tories are out of touch with their voters, though in different ways. Tory MPs are well to the right of the electorate on economic matters. Tory voters are closer to Labour MPs on such issues than to Conservative ones.

Labour MPs are far more liberal than the electorate when it comes to social values. On some questions, Labour voters seem more conservative than Tory MPs.

This “values gap” has engaged much debate in recent years, especially in response to Labour’s faltering fortunes. The party, many argue, needs to rein back its cultural liberalism, seen as the mark of the metropolitan elite, and adopt a more conservative tone to attract back its lost voters.

But if that seems to suggest a tilt back to ‘traditional’ approaches on social matters by the left… well, Malik suggests caution. As he notes already Britain is socially ‘highly liberal’. Rather he notes:

The debate about social values today is really about two distinct kinds of issue. The first relates to questions of history and identity, such as the controversy over statues. The second, the issues at the heart of the “values gap” report, are concerns linked to a sense of community – crime, discipline or patriotism, for example.

And while he posits this in the context of statues…whereby those who are for equal pay and against racial discrimination but against removing statues can hardly be easily termed ‘illiberal’…to me this seems very familiar by looking a little further back, perhaps to some supporters of the BLP in the past who would be a broad mix of different attitudes and approaches – patriotic, support for police, etc, and yet in favour of economic policies arguably well to the left of where the centre of gravity is today and has been for decades. This isn’t contradiction so much as different dynamics intertwining. For Malik the change is one of ‘values’ rather than material issues, with class politics moving from the latter to a role of class division underpinned by the former. That it is in that former area that people now position themselves. Yet that too is a simplification I would hazard. Material conditions remain hugely problematic. Where does one start in listing them? Perhaps another way of looking at this is that the very real deprivation, sense of alienation and so on that is evident in the UK (Malik for example doesn’t mention ten years of Tory austerity, though he should) is sidelined by those for whom emphasis on ‘values’ is on occasion an expedient means of ignoring them.

That too is part of a process of contempt and pity.

Comments»

1. yourcousin - July 8, 2020

Now that’s a bi-line,

“‘Who would you vote for?’.
‘Robespierre’”

😉

Like

Joe - July 8, 2020

The results are in. 98.8% have voted in favour of 6 months on the mast for “May the revolution be swift and brutal” – Marianne Sheridan”. Chef will be receiving a formal instruction to implement the will of the people very shortly.

As to the Ted Heath quote… I like it. Take Ms Sheridan down from the mast after 6 months and hoist Mr Heath. (After an open and transparent democratic vote again of course).

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 8, 2020

I actually prefer the Robespierre quote. Perhaps we’ll trial it?

Like

Wiki Man Dave - July 8, 2020

Where does the current quote come from out of curiosity?

Like

Joe - July 8, 2020

“Where does the current quote come from out of curiosity?”
A columnist in the Skibbereen Eagle iirc.

Liked by 2 people

Joe - July 8, 2020

“I actually prefer the Robespierre quote. Perhaps we’ll trial it?”

We need decisive leadership here, cde chef gen sec. You have the power, now use it!

Like

sonofstan - July 8, 2020

It’s a testament to where we are that Ted Heath seems like an intellectual giant.

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 8, 2020

And that we’d even think of using a quote of his!

That said Heath was a fascinating character.

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 8, 2020

If we did use it would we use the whole quote:

“If I lived here I wouldn’t vote for Harold Wilson. And I wouldn’t vote for myself either.” “Who would you vote for?” asked his friend. “Robespierre,” Heath replied.

Or a cutdown one:

“Who would you vote for?” asked his friend. “Robespierre.”

Like

yourcousin - July 8, 2020

I think I see “Robespierre 2020” stickers in my future.

Liked by 1 person

yourcousin - July 8, 2020

Joe,
I would have voted for your line, but since I am the “embodiment of petit bourgeoisie values” it would’ve been like a turkey voting for Thanksgiving.

That being the case we’ll see what we can do vis a vis the rest of the CLR Ard Comhairle. And in particular that pesky general secretary.

On an entirely unrelated note did you get that brochure about the NK junket?

😉

Liked by 1 person

Joe - July 8, 2020

“On an entirely unrelated note did you get that brochure about the NK junket?”

No. I think I’ve been cancelled.

Liked by 1 person

yourcousin - July 8, 2020

Well at least you’ve been spared “re-education”…for now.

Like

2. Mat - July 8, 2020

It’s worth noting that Kenan Malik is both a justly recognised commentator on race and class in Britain and a former RCP member who is still close to Spiked.

Having said that having worked in the North East of England and campaigned for Remain and for Labour, I think he’s correct and was correct prior to the 2010 launch of austerity.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - July 8, 2020

I always factor in his RCP/Spiked adjacency and like yourself that would certainly be something that has to be filtered out but on occasion he is good and his orientation to class is solid.

Like

Michael Carley - July 8, 2020

Malik is the one righteous man for whose sake the RCP might be saved.

Liked by 2 people

pettyburgess - July 8, 2020

Is Malik actually still RCP adjacent? That’s clearly his background but he hasn’t written for Spiked or any of their fronts for many years.

Like

sonofstan - July 8, 2020

Isn’t the offical line that the RCP doesn’t exist and probably never existed and I don’t know what you’re talking about mate?

Liked by 1 person

3. sonofstan - July 8, 2020

You’ll get a lot of cynicism in the north of England with regard to Labour councils – some of it not their fault due to 10 years of austerity, but a perception of corruption and cronyism that wold be familiar to those of us who remember Dublin in the ’80s.

Liked by 1 person


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: