Thursday, 6 October 2016

One nation

Theresa May's one nation Conservatism is a funny old thing: 
"Just listen to the way a lot of politicians and commentators talk about the public. They find their patriotism distasteful, their concerns about immigration parochial, their views about crime illiberal, their attachment to their job security inconvenient."
Rhetorically, she's standing up for the broad mass of "ordinary folk" against a terrible elite who keep oppressing them with their merciless liberalism.

First, there's something a bit dodgy about the assertion that patriotism is something that the "common" people do and elites only sneer at - it shouldn't have taken a great deal of thought to come up with examples of distasteful flag waving by unarguably privileged members of the elite. Do you, by any chance, remember this guy, Theresa?

You might counter that The Racist Floor Mop wasn't the sort of authentic working class hero patriot May was praising, but just a cynical politico who thought that the proles, like like those famously "cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies", would be easily distracted by a bit of patriotic rah-rah. I couldn't possibly comment.

But there are plenty more examples of patriotism among the definitely-not-downtrodden. The sort of folk who can afford a holiday cruise aren't exactly living from week to week on zero hours contracts, yet on some British cruise liners, you can roll up to the bar when the ship is due to pull out of port, grab yourself a Pimms,  and join in a bit of flag-waving in a "sail away" knees-up event to a pumping soundtrack of "Rule Britannia" and sundry other patriotic tunes.

And speaking of patriotic tunes, I don't expect that many of the smartly turned out flag-wavers who join the chorus of "Land of Hope and Glory" at the Last Night of the Proms come from rundown sink estates:

But, rhetorically at least, May's Conservatism is all about solidarity and inclusivity and definitely not about one group of people looking down on the other lot. So remember, working class, people like us definitely don't look down on people like you.

But don't you worry, aspirational middle classes - we're going to open lots of lovely new grammar schools, so your precious darlings won't have their grades pulled down by those nasty, disruptive poor kids.

But don't you worry either, proles hard-working families - the grammar school system won't condemn your kids to a second class education. We can definitely promise that when we divide schools into ones that the well-coached children of the sharp-elbowed middle classes can get into by passing an exam and ones with no entry requirements, people are so not going to look down on the schools that you don't have to pass a test to get into as somehow second rate, because ... reasons.

Like I said, Mayist one nation Conservatism is a funny old thing, the funniest bit being how surprisingly similar it is to old-fashioned divide-and-rule.