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July 11, 2018



"Perhaps the opposite. One reason for Thatcher’s popularity among much of the middle class in the 1970s was that managers knew workers well and saw them to be lazy, bolshy and greedy."

I imagine the bourgeois and their little helpers would regard anything other than uncomplaining total immiseration as evidence of laziness, bolshiness and greed.

Its one of the many telling concordances between the "progressive" and golf club currents of contemporary class privilege.

Alan Brisling

You've been on fire recently. Lots of nails getting hit on heads.


"By the same token, if the rich are out of sight, envy and resentment will be directed instead at the people who are in sight, such as benefit claimants."

Something like this manifests in my mum's dislike of the broad left. She hates snobby middle class socialists more than toffs like Rees Mog, she would rather be lorded over by a lord than recieve any kind of wealth redistributionfrom Fabian types who take a paternalistic and technocratic approach to socialism. She never had to encounter those who own large amounts of land and live in mansions. She does however have direct contact with the moralising middle class.

She also voted Leave and I think this failure of the left has contributed to Brexit.


You could replace 'posh' throughout in this piece with 'progressive Left' and it would be just as accurate. The Left used to be about helping the working man and woman, now its about identity politics and how many transexuals can dance on the head of a pin. The modern Left despise the working classes nowadays, they have this horrible tendency towards national pride and hetero-normality.

Nick Reid

Did "middle class men in offices marry working class women from the typing pool" ?

Wasn't it the case that middle class women, denied an academic education, went into jobs like secretarial work where they would meet middle class husband material.

As an aside, the clever secretaries who didn't marry and continued working, moving up to positions of responsibility in back & middle office office jobs, explains why (arguably) institutions were better run in the old days. These days such women would go to university and enter the professions themselves.

Miguel Madeira

I doubt that in the old days there was really much marriages between middle class man and working class woman.

Simple math - if there was many middle class man / working class woman marriages, there shouf be also at least one of the two: many middle class woman / working class man marriages; or b) many middle class woman and working class man remaining single for lack of acceptable partners.

We know that a) was almost taboo even some decades ago; and I doubt that b) was also much common (because I think that some decades ago the share of not-married people was much lower than today).

Like Nick Reid, I suspect that many of this apparent many middle class man / working class woman marriages were indeed with middle class woman doing apparently working-class jobs.

An additional observation - in the stories of Agatha Christie, set largely in the period from 1920 to 1970, it was common to find the daughters and nieces of lords and investment bankers doing jobs like secretary and nurse; I imagine that this was the reality for many not-yet-married upper and middle class women of the time.

Dave Timoney

It's worth remembering that Carrington's respect for the working class never extended to putting himself forward for democratic election. His long political career was entirely the result of aristocratic patronage.


Yes, it was often posh girls working as secretaries etc.

Also, as an aside, barristers' clerks are still often working class today.


«anything other than uncomplaining total immiseration as evidence of laziness, bolshiness and greed»

But from a left/working class point of view a lot of the "class struggle" in the 60-70s was driven by a substantial degree of “laziness, bolshiness and greed”: because a number of important *trade* unions were in effect thinly disguised nearly hereditary guilds whose members were or aspired to be worker- rentiers, and screw everybody else, including the real working class, never mind the underclass.

These "elites" not really of the working class then became thatcherite to an excess as soon as thatcherism gave them a bit of property and some profits from self-employment as tradesmen.

Put another way, the supreme tory and whig value is incumbency, and some "trade" unions were dominated by reactionary incumbents who used left-wing language and appearances to defend their incumbency and make it as profitable as possible, in this not different from lords of the manor or City executives.

Maurits Pino

Nice post. Two questions/observations.

In the US south, slave owners, especially ones owning a small number, and their slaves would live in very close proximity day in day out. The sympathy and justice argument line didn't work very well there.

On work place separation, I guess you're right. And with respect to the cleaner, this is often an outsourced job who disappears in the course of the morning and won't join the office party.

But I have the impression that my grammar school (early '80s) was a lot more heterogenuous that my father's ('50s) and our universities as well.

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