When he was about the age that I am now, then Gordon Brown was given the shock of his life when he was told for the first time that he was simply not posh enough for something.
Educated all the way to doctoral level entirely in Scotland, before having come up through the Scottish Labour Party to sit in Parliament for his own home town, it had simply never occurred to this son of a Church of Scotland minister, of such distinction that his collected sermons were in that very year published in book form, that anyone could possibly have looked at him and seen a pleb. But in an event that would by all accounts change his entire personality, suddenly he quite realised what it was to be Scottish or Welsh in England, or to be so at an English outpost such as Fettes.
At half that age, I had the same experience of suddenly realising quite what it was to be from the North or the Midlands in the South, or at a Southern outpost even as far north as Durham. Bless him, and it was not his fault, but I remember how an exact contemporary of mine, from exactly the same background including a comprehensive school, was treated as stratospherically posher because he was from the South. That said, it never got him promoted over my head despite having been my apprentice. Brown wins the legitimate grievance stakes hands down with that one.
Now, I am not knocking God's Own University. It finally took away my staff card and email address at the start of the academic year that is now drawing to a close, because Oliver Kamm or some such person must have threatened to make a fuss about my case. But if it had held out until April, then I would probably still have had them.
And I am still very much around the place. One of its most senior figures recently described me as "family", and introduced me to a very distinguished visitor as, "Once of the last links to the gentler old Durham." So I am not going back, because I have never gone away. Nevertheless, and in fact this is a good thing, it gave my 20-year-old self a class consciousness that I had never previously had, but which I have never lost. That would be downright preposterous to most people who met me in ordinary life. It would have been then, and it would be now, but here we are.
In like manner, when I was at the very late age for such things of 25, the right-wing Labour machine in County Durham, which is now engaged in a criminal conspiracy to imprison me, made me politically black. At least half of people have to be told that I am mixed-race, and the most ethnic thing about me is my fondness for Saint Helenian food, a taste that was shared by my blond-haired and blue-eyed father. But if you are so black that Tony Blair's Chief Whip, who went on to grace the present MP for North West Durham's election literature in 2017, will not have you as a council candidate in her constituency, then you are politically black. Between that and the imperialist war, in April 2003, politically black was what I became, just as I had become politically working-class in October 1997.
Bringing us to Boris Johnson, who is part-Turkish, and who knows what else through the Ottoman Empire. His policy on Iran will presumably be directed by Darius Guppy. But more than being the heir to any of the Royal Families to which he is related, he is the Heir to Blair, in that a man with Johnson's record, a man who does not even known how many children he has, can become Party Leader and Prime Minister simply by pulling class rank.
Not only that, but no Gordon Brown figure presents himself. Jeremy Hunt may be stung to discover that he is "only Charterhouse", but that would not be most people's view of his alma mater
. Even Michael Gove was at Robert Gordon's College, and in fact he has lived in the posher parts of England for most of his life. His survival in public life is due entirely to the principle that "posh people are allowed", even if it is starting to look as if the courts are applying a Gove's Law to drug offences, at least excusing people from prison because they are no worse than a former Lord Chancellor.
A quarter of a century on, and Tony Blair has finished the work of Margaret Thatcher in turning Britain into the country that Marxists had always said it was, even though before those two it never really had been. Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our
people to hold the balance of power in it. A new party will be registered before the House of Commons rises for the summer recess, even if I have to pay for it myself, ongoing lawfare or no ongoing lawfare.
And I will stand for Parliament here at North West Durham even if I can raise only the deposit, which I could do by going pretty overdrawn, although that was not how I was brought up. I would still prefer to raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign
, but I am no longer making my candidacy conditional on having done so. In any event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
. Very many thanks.