Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Incredible Shrinking Viscount

Labour Toff, Anthony Neil Wedgewood Benn talks down to the assembled working classes
A friend at university, Neil Duncanson, first coined the aptly descriptive term “Incredible Shrinking Viscount” to describe the then member of parliament for Bristol North East, a man who had started as Anthony Neil Wedgewood Benn, 2nd Viscount Stansgate only to shrink (in inverse proportion to his self-importance) to the oh-so-proletarian, Tony Benn.

I was reminded of the Incredible Shrinking Viscount as a result of a little (and slightly snide) posting from Political Scrapbook:

Humourless Tory toff Jacob Rees-Mogg is attempting to close down a spoof Twitter account set up in his name.

Now Jacob Rees-Mogg may be humourless for wanting to shut down a Twitter account that takes the rise out of him. Indeed, some MPs would perhaps slice off parts of their anatomies to achieve the recognition and accolade of have some nitwit set up a spoof account in their name.

But – and this is a serious question – why did the author of this sniffy little piece have to use the term “Tory toff”? OK, I’m sure that the author will point out that Mr Rees-Mogg is a Tory and, in so far as the term is defined, most definitely a Toff but was that necessary to the story or merely playing to the Labour inverse snob gallery? The same gallery to which Labour Toff , Anthony Neil Wedgewood Benn, 2nd Viscount Stansgate, inheritor of millions, pupil at top public school and Oxbridge educated – privilege and advantage defined, played when he dumbed down to just Tony Benn.

So why is it that Jacob Rees-Mogg, David Cameron, George Osborne and other Conservatives are routinely derided as “Tory Toffs” by the likes of Political Scrapbook whereas Benn, the late Michael Foot, Anthony Blair, Polly Toynbee and Tristam Hunt never receive the description as “Labour Toffs”? Is it that Labour folk like to avoid the real fact that there are plenty of really posh, champagne socialists out there – the sort of people who, as my father would say, “can afford to be socialists.”

Maybe though the term “Tory toff” is merely a random class-ridden term of abuse that we should accept as being from the same intellectual box as “Tory scum”. Demonstrating yet again that the left have no arguments left – merely insults.


1 comment:

Mike Chitty said...

Whether they use the sobriquet 'Tory Toff' or 'Champagne Socialist', the fact is that these are signs that the people who use them who are no longer curious about politics, seeking to understand with respectful curiosity, but just looking to impose their own superior understanding and to undermine the validity of others.

All just part of the process of Yah! Booh! politics that leaves so many of us cold, disappointed, frankly embarrassed and disengaged.