Thursday, 26 October 2017

Take It Or Leave It?

With the Sheffield Hallam constituency in the news, consider that there are many very wealthy parts of the North of England, that there are numerous thoroughly middle-class people here (who have regional accents, which are far less class-indicative in the North than they are in the South), and that there are even quite a few private schools.

If Oxford and Cambridge are biased in favour of the South when it comes to undergraduate admissions, then that is not a class thing. It is across all classes in the South, and across all political persuasions there, that people are bombastically proud of never having been to the North, of being unable to understand what Northerners are saying, and so forth. A huge annual event here, famous throughout the world except in its own country, attracted two hundred thousand people to hear Jeremy Corbyn this July. It was barely reported.

Very similarly, the second and lower rungs of New Labour came from the post-War New Class, so that by the 1990s they were often second generation university graduates with second generation professional jobs. But they came from places where politics simply meant the local squirarchy and its more or less deluded hangers on. "The Tory candidate for anything always wins here, and always comes from the members or the entourage of one of the right families," they were told. "Take it or leave it." They couldn't take it, so they left it.

At least since the War, they are the only category of people, rather than purely individual cases, to have moved from the South to the North in order to have a career. But they do not like the North, which they had been brought up to regard as a joke and where, if they had grown up here, then it highly unlikely that they would ever have joined the Labour Party. In fact, if they had grown up here and if they had wanted to go into politics, then they would have gone South for the purpose.

It is, however, a different question how far they would ever have got. The evisceration of the trade unions and of local government meant that it was easy for such candidates to be imposed on Labour areas. In Conservative areas, however, "The Tory candidate for anything always wins here, and always comes from the members or the entourage of one of the right families. Take it or leave it."

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