Thursday, 4 March 2010

On rich socialists...inspired by Michael Foot


My father, when confronted with one wealthy left wing toff or another, is wont to observe that “they can afford to be socialists”. Now I’ve always liked this little aphorism since I rather “get it” – socialism is founded on a great mound of patronising hypocrisy. And where better than the silver spoon chewing classes to find both those traits!

The posh leftie is a sort – we’ve all met them and marvelled at their ability to propose the regime of St Francis for the masses of ordinary middle class folk while enjoying their homes overlooking Hampstead Heath, the swanky parties with the luvvies and Summers at the villa in some warm part of Southern Europe.

It’s important for us to remember that, for all their vaunted intelligence, their charm and their wit, these rich socialists are takers not builders. They lecture us on the moral rightness of state control or the absolute need for higher duties on alcohol or the banning of smoking from pubs they never go into – and they do this from atop a monumental pile of cash earned in wicked capitalist ways by their forefathers.

These people have never had to find a mortgage payment, have never wondered how they were going to get the cash to pay for the school uniform, have never been made redundant and wouldn’t know the first thing about starting a business from scratch. Yet they take it upon themselves to lecture me about greed, or about poverty or public services.

Michael Foot was, I’m sure, a charming and delightful man who gave great pleasure to those who knew him. I'm sure he professed strong principles. But he was, to me, just another rich, posh socialist. Another man whose chosen mission was to hold forth on socialism to less clever, less lucky folk while clutching hypocritically onto a glorious upper middle class lifestyle funded entirely from the proceeds of capitalism. We can recall his speaking – which was good. His thoughtfulness. His public service. We can catalogue all his writing, all his good works. But let’s never forget that…

…he could afford to be a socialist.


Anonymous said...

Re the piece on Michael Foot, with views like these how can you be a Tory?

singapore sling said...

Lefties, as far as I know, have never said everyone should have the exact same amount of money and no one should earn more than anyone else. I live in Burnley and as far as I'm concerned, if people like Benn, Foot and Billy Bragg are well off then good luck to them. Being rich and caring about the working classes was, last time I looked, better than being rich and being oblivious to the working classes like, say, Gary Barlow.

Furthermore, there are capitalist countries with rich owners in social democratic countries in Europe, and good luck to them if they're willing to pay their fare share in taxes, which they certainly are in Scandinavia because they get their money's worth in terms of an educated workforce and a healthier infrastructure than in the sort of junior version of America that you lot want us to live in.

You lot talk about "aspiration", but you do everything possible to make sure our "aspirations" are never realised, which is why social mobility is lower than it's ever been after uninterrupted right-wing government since 1979.

Bliar bought into your consensus, with tragic results, which is why things never improved on his watch. It's in the most egalitarian countries that it's easiest to rise from a lower to a highr position, and a handful of anecdotes won't alter that.

The idea that this government are influenced by their rarified backgrounds, to the point that they have no idea what the average person thinks and the conditions we live under, isn't even an exclusively left-wing perspective. It was even expressed by Dorries, ffs.