How the rich and influential are driven mad by the true voice of the poor

Polly Toynbee’s enjoyable rant in the Guardian today, directed first at Boris Johnson, and then with equal venom at Jeremy Corbyn, is a must read. She packs a mean punch does our Polly, as one would expect of the daughter of the great historian Arnold Toynbee, the beneficiary of a public school education (apart from a token spell at the showcase Holland Park Comprehensive), the winner of an Oxford scholarship, and altogether reeking of liberal privilege.  

Of course, Labour’s traditional electorate in the north did for them big time by backing Boris Johnson. The great northern seats in Labour’s traditional heartlands – Rother Valley, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Wakefield, Bishop Auckland, Sedgefield, Bassetlaw, Grimsby and Bolsover – fell like ninepins. Yet these bourgeois liberals still do not get it. That traditional working-class labour voters are patriots who want their country back.  

And yet, confusingly, I heard yesterday from the resident BBC correspondent in Assam, where protestors are rioting in protest against new laws that would make it easier for illegal migrants (many of them persecuted minorities) from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to claim citizenship, that the indigenous population feels their ‘unique ethnicity and culture’ is under threat from uncontrolled immigration. The sympathies of the correspondent, it seems, are unmistakeably with the Assam people. No talk here of populism or bigotry, or of the benefits of diversity. Funny that.

Imagine a politician here opening their mouths to speak of the ‘unique ethnicity and culture’ of the English. It is unthinkable. Interestingly, the Guardian reporting the same story from Assam chooses to ignore the main cause of the riots and concentrate exclusively on the government’s not extending the right to citizenship to Muslims, which some hold to be in breach of India’s secular constitution – as if the extension of the amnesty to Muslims would assuage the feelings of the indigenous population. Funny that.

However, bourgeois liberal Guardian readers do get the benefit of a more diverse range of views in the admirable comments section of their un-paywalled website. They might just have come across this lucid explanation by jonnyboy62 of why Bolsover elected a Brexiteer Tory:

The Tories don’t give a fuck about Bolsover. One of the reasons the Brexit vote was so strong there is that there has been a huge surge in Eastern European migrants there to work in the distribution centres that are the main employers now after the pits closed and the industry atrophied. Most of those workers are recruited through agencies who recruit directly from abroad and are required to put adds up in the jobs centres but very rarely actually hire staff locally. The influx of workers has led to problems in housing availability as buy to let merchants have come in and converted the housing stock for short term rentals to migrant workers who share sometimes six or seven in a three-bedroom house. So you have a combination of rapid demographic change, shrinking wages and increasing costs which is directly linked to EU membership … I have been really annoyed the past few years when you have someone who is clearly upper middle class asking if “these people realize how the Erasmus system is impacted by Brexit”. No they do not and they would not give a fuck if they did … there are people living in different worlds and it’s only going to get worse after this election.

Does Boris Johnson get it? I don’t think so. The view from the manicured lawn of an Oxfordshire manor house, or the even more manicured quadrangle of an Oxford college, is very different to the view down the high street of a northern town or city suburb. But the wildcard in all this is surely Scotland. The onward march of the SNP appears unstoppable, now up to 45 per cent of the vote – 8 per cent more than two years ago. And with the demographic rise of Sinn Fein, the writing is on the wall in Northern Ireland too. How long will the Union survive? Will the demise of the Union, painful thought it will be, not be a blessing in disguise? For if Britain goes, ‘Global Britain’ goes with it.

England may yet rise again.   

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11 Comments on How the rich and influential are driven mad by the true voice of the poor

  1. There is a deeply racist view here about Assam. The assumption is that nationalism or ethnic homogenity is fine for *those* primitive, stupid people in the third world, but *we* should be above this sort of thing.

    • You’ve misinterpreted my blog by 180 degrees. In any case, I don’t think liberals do attribute ‘populist’ motives to people in the third world. They airbrush them away and pretend that only nasty conservative whites in the West are so afflicted.

  2. To be sure, none of the Indian legislation you referenced – the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – is contrary to any provisions of the Indian constitution. While it maintains existing citizenship status to Indians regardless of identity, it gives an accelerated route to Indian citizenship to those from neighbouring Islamic countries who have fled to India facing religious discrimination with no hope for a life in dignity else than full Indian citizenship.

    India, and much of the world now, is filled with much the same Guardian-types that are selectively highlighting apparent Muslim victimhood, when what is being remedied is the state-sanctioned victimhood of non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, all of whom have exemplary records in communal harmony as you’d imagine. Has Asia Bibi been forgotten all so soon?

    Assam state had a special accord with the Union government by which they’d limit the number of non-Assamese in their borders – they’ve had their heads done in thanks to illegal migration from Bangladesh. They are against the CAA but positively for a related legislation – the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the effect of which would be to mark illegal immigrants and get them out possibly. For all one could care, the affected people who stay back could be moved to another part of the seventh-largest country in the world.

    The Indian Congress – the Indian equivalent of the Labour Party – and their idenhitatiran allies have taken to the streets with the idea that this legislation, passed through both houses of the Indian Parliament with full majorities, is “anti-Muslim”. Oh cry me a river! But yeah, concerns of brown people about the perils of migration does seem to trump those of the whites. Could someone hold them a mirror?

  3. “But the wildcard in all this is surely Scotland. The onward march of the SNP appears unstoppable, now up to 45 per cent of the vote – 8 per cent more than two years ago.”

    But the SNP won 50% of the vote in 2015. In 2010, they won only 20%. In 1974 they won 30%, but were down to 17% in 1979. Who can be sure that they won’t be down to 30%, or 20%, or 17% again in 2024?

    Speaking as a Scot living in England, I’m glad that I live in a country where hospitals have clean water and the police aren’t under centralised party-political control. What I hear from my friends in Scotland suggests that they’re beginning to envy me for not having to live under SNP rule. And an acquaintance who had sturdily voted Labour or SNP all his life (depending on which had the best chance of beating the hated Tory candidate) voted Conservative for the first time in 2019.

    If Boris plays his cards right, he could gain a fair few Scottish seats next time.

  4. Polly Toynbee’s enjoyable rant? Are you being serious or sarcastic? I read the piece and it is nothing more than a typical election defeat blame-fest churned out by an ivory tower Lefty who is sure she knows where and why it all went wrong. “The [Labour] manifesto was essentially magnificent. The vision was of a country freed from years of darkness with green investment…”. Now (apparently) we are faced with the near collapse of the NHS, education and the climate.

    As was said of the big financiers following the 2008 credit crunch disaster: “They just don’t get it”. Toynbee and her kind can only attribute the Conservative success to the lowest of causes – the credulous masses fooled by unscrupulous demogogues into voting against their best interests.

    Daughter of the great historian she may be but her first two panic-riddled paragraphs alone carry a distinct air of the kind of female hysteria we have already seen from Lily Allen. Does she actually believe what she writes I wonder?

    Well, we can at least vote out our politicians. Our established journalists are much more difficult to get rid of. Governments come and go but the big name journalists just linger on churning out opinions till eventually senility (or the Reaper) takes them.

    • Not serious, of course. It is the Guardian. I also notice from her bio that Polly owns a villa in Tuscany. Perhaps she would benefit from a spell, or even enforced confinement, in Bolsover.

      • Thanks for clearing that up.

        By the way, Germany and California are good examples of countries which have suffered the dubious benefits of green investment. They need a good sobering dose of climate change denial to break free of the eco-fanatics’ shackles. If not their prosperity will soon be a thing of the past.

    • No, it’s still there. Here it is in full:

      The tories don’t give a fuck about bolsover.
      One of the reasons the Brexit vote was so strong there is that there has been a huge surge in Eastern European migrants there to work in the distribution centers that are the main employers now after the pits closed and the industry atrophied.
      Most of those workers are recruited through agencies who recruit directly from abroad and are required to put adds up in the jobs centers but very rarely actually hire staff locally.
      The influx of workers has led to problems in housing availability as buy to let merchants have come in and converted the housing stock for short term rentals to migrant workers who share sometimes six or seven in a three bedroom house.
      So you have a combination of rapid demographic change, shrinking wages and increasing costs which is directly linked to eu membership.
      I am pro remain (infact I am a now a metropolitan liberal tech worker living in Scandinavia) but the people there have legitamte grievance with the impacts of eu membership.
      People always seem to have a binary take on this issue as if the benefits and the costs are equally spread. I have been really annoyed the past few years when you have someone who is clearly upper middle class asking if “these people realize how the Erasmus system is impacted by brexit” no they do not and they would not give a fuck if they did.
      If we had a more balanced redistributive economy and got rid of the two tier education and opportunity system maybe we could talk about common issues but there are people living in different worlds and it’s only going to get worse after this election.

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