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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Today’s news agenda


    by Sunny
    18th January, 2010 at 8:55 am    

    I’m going to try and do a morning links round-up of interesting news stories every day, so I can combine various stories of interest into one segment.

    Iraq inquiry urged to recall Alastair Campbell after ‘rethink’
    It emerged yesterday that:
    • Mr Straw warned Mr Blair of doubts about supporting the invasion;
    • Hoon / Blair were told they had less than five days to decide to join the attack;
    • more than half of voters now believe Blair deliberately misled the country.

    Boris Johnson wants London to be Britain’s first plastic bag-free city
    Mr Johnson, the Mayor of London, will propose aggressive targets today for cutting the amount of waste going to landfill and a complete ban on this form of disposal by 2025. He wants the proportion of waste sent for recycling to double within ten years to 50 per cent. He believes that it is possible to make rapid progress in reducing the 13 billion plastic bags issued to shoppers each year in Britain because experience elsewhere has shown that people can easily be persuaded to live without them.

    Islamic sect’s plan to build mega-mosque collapses
    Tablighi Jamaat, the Islamic sect behind the proposal, is to be evicted this week from the East London site, where it has been operating illegally a temporary mosque and had planned a complex that would accommodate 12,000 worshippers. The Muslim Council of Britain said that the group had fallen victim to “unfounded hostility and hysteria”.

    Why it’s Tory hypocrisy not to talk class
    After all, Conservative leaders have long played the class card from grammar school boy Ted Heath; to Margaret Thatcher, “the grocer’s daughter”; to John Major, who’s famous trip down memory - or rather down Brixton’s Electric Avenue - formed the basis of a party election broadcast; and, most recently, to Michael Howard who chided Tony Blair across the despatch box by declaring, “This grammar school boy isn’t going to take any lessons from a public school boy”.

    Police accused of undermining power station protest
    He has been accused of straying from his duty under human rights ­legislation that requires the police to neutrally facilitate peaceful protest. Senior officers have repeatedly denied claims that they encourage corporations to scupper environmental activists through the use of high court injunctions. But in a private letter to the head of UK security at E.ON, Fuller urged the German-owned firm to seek “legal remedies” against activists, and suggested using injunctions.

    Teachers in call to aid white working class
    The report, entitled Opening Locked Doors, concludes: “While white working class children are not the only underachieving group, they are the largest in number and by many criteria the greatest under-achievers. Thirty years ago a 14 or 15-year-old working class young person could walk out of school and into a decent working class job. That is no longer the case.”


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    1. pickles

      Blog post:: Today's news agenda http://bit.ly/7EYWya


    2. rssGreatLondon

      LONnws> http://bit.ly/6hB6el Pickled Politics » Today's news agenda…




    1. platinum786 — on 18th January, 2010 at 9:45 am  

      Hmm, found something very interesting in the Times story about the East London Mosque. As ever I think the Times is becoming more and more of a tabloid, some really shoddy reporting.

      However, another Muslim organisation last night welcomed the move. Minhaj-ul-Quran, which advises the Government on how to combat youth radicalisation, said that a mosque should be a “community effort” and not the initiative of one group with extremist links.

      1. I don’t think Minhaj-Ul-Quran would make such a statement, where they’d suggest the Tableegi Jamaat is linked to extremism. They may have suggested the building of such a large Masjid should be collaberative effort between Islamic groups, but never suggest the Tableegi’s are extremists.

      2. The tableegi Jamaat are not extremists. They’re more like islam’s Jehova’s, always knocking on doors and holding Islamic awareness sessions etc. They have condemned terrorism and issued fatwa’s against suicide bombing etc.

      It seems some incredibly poor reporting, I think they just googled Tableegi Jamaat and noticed wikipedia mention the word terrorism.

    2. halima — on 18th January, 2010 at 11:09 am  

      “This grammar school boy isn’t going to take any lessons from a public school boy”.

      It’s still a conversation about the middle class and the upper classes, though, ain’t it, I love how the middle classes like to plead their merit and disadvantage based on whether one attended a grammer school or not. I thought there was only one type of school - the school - not ‘state’ school, or ‘local comprehensive’ or ‘inner city ‘ school, just school.

      “Thirty years ago a 14 or 15-year-old working class young person could walk out of school and into a decent working class job. That is no longer the case.”

      But presumably that’s all young working class people, and not just the white working classes? What’s different for a young black or Asian young person who leaves school at 15 or 16? Oh hang on - perhaps the young black person or Asian person is just handed a job based on their skin colour what with all this PC selection boards where posts are being handed out - it probably has nothing to do with the qualification gaps between different groups of young people, right?

    3. Trofim — on 18th January, 2010 at 11:34 am  

      Isn’t this news then?

      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6991177.ece

    4. persephone — on 18th January, 2010 at 11:45 am  

      “Thirty years ago a 14 or 15-year-old working class young person could walk out of school and into a decent working class job. That is no longer the case.”

      What struck me is that an educational institution would refer to what they call a “decent working class job”. It comes across as patronising & surely it is pigeon holing an employment path based on class. It raises so many issues from:

      1) what do they mean
      2) depending upon 1) where is their duty to inspire their pupils with wider aspirations - including asking this group what they would like to do as they may not fit into wanting to do what is termed a ‘decent working class job’
      3) what if the so called ‘ decent working class job’ is in a declining industry sector e.g. manufacturing which brings us back to point 2)
      4) why are they using the word class & is it right an educational body should do so

    5. platinum786 — on 18th January, 2010 at 11:46 am  

      Not really…. most of us knew that anyway.

    6. halima — on 18th January, 2010 at 12:28 pm  

      “What struck me is that an educational institution would refer to what they call a “decent working class job”

      I don’t mind the term decent work because the ILO also uses to mean decent pay and a minimum wage, as distinct from unsafe and potentially exploitative or harmful work. However I have a feeling in UK circles, the term ‘decent working class job’ doesn’t imply the same level of dignity at work that the ILO talks about. This is because you can’t go anywhere in the UK without running into class - even when the politicians talk about class and are wanting to level the playing field - they still take class to be the organising reference to our society. Everyone has their place and order.

      I also hate the term CHAV which the middle classes use as an in-joke to belittle the working classes. The white working classes, I should add, because of course everything else is too taboo and socially unacceptable in public society these days - except taking a joke at the expense of the white working classes - as distinct from black or Asian working classes. I’ve never really seen eye to eye with Julie Burchhill except when she quite rightly showed two fingers to anyone who called her a CHAV and she rightly re-claimed it and said she’s bloody proud of it - and proud of not being educated.

    7. Dalbir — on 18th January, 2010 at 2:44 pm  

      I think the WWC have been slow to grasp/understand the rapid changes taking place around them. However combating the practical demise of many of the sectors that traditionally employed them by throwing them into education seems to be a short term solution.

      Even with that, overcoming the deeply ingrained apathy/antipathy towards FE/HE from this quarter will be no mean feat.

      I’m glad they are getting more attention though.

    8. MaidMarian — on 18th January, 2010 at 7:33 pm  

      halima - ‘I also hate the term CHAV which the middle classes use as an in-joke to belittle the working classes.’

      No, no, no, no, no, no.

      Can we please kill that one right now. Chav and the underclass are absolutely not the working class. Conflating them is a dreadful straw man.

      The working class are absolutely ‘in’ society - chav and underclass are about exclusion. It is emphatically not about the class system. There is absolutely no reason why chavs can not be from middle class backgrounds.

      I suppose I am middle class now, but my grandparents would have had nothing to do with chavs and absolutely would not have seen them as class companions - in fact I suspect they would have been rather harsher on chav culture.

      There is an issue with those who diminish our society - to dismiss those who point this out with a sneer and a finger-point is to hold reality in contempt.

    9. halima — on 18th January, 2010 at 8:05 pm  

      Maid Marian, I’ve been living abroad for a bit and when I returned to the UK for a visit this year ( and last year) I was perplexed to see that we had invented yet another term for groups in society which we can’t quite sort out - can you explain to me what the underclass is? I think a few people tried to explain it to me, but I still don’t get it.

      On CHAVs can you explain more? I don’t agree with the term underclass any more than CHAV, but perhaps you have a perspective that I am not appreciating so happy to be challenged?

      But also it’s often the case with those that are socially mobile to put some distance quite quickly with groups that we until recently shared a common predicament with? So it’s usually those who recently became ‘middle class’ who would distinguish themselves as such, and those that have been settled middle class and upwardly mobile, are busy not talking about their (middle) classness, or trying to be mockneys or whatever is fashionable.

      But working class is a broad term, too, no? Just as within the middle classes you have those that would be champaign soclaists, or hardcore poverty activists or Tories, could you not have different groups within the working classes?

    10. MaidMarian — on 18th January, 2010 at 8:17 pm  

      halima - I can’t remember the exact person now, but I think it was a US supreme court justice who once defined pornography as, ‘I can’t describe it but I know it when I see it.’ I suspect that much the same could be said for chav and the underclass.

      The best that I have heard is that it is about almost a self-exclusion from society. Think of it this way. I’d happily share a lift with the working class, but not the underclass.

      You could indeed have different groups wihin the working class, but that is not the same as chav.

      Don’t think too hard about it there is no hard and fast rule. This common predicament is a false argument. The working class as I understand it share nothing with chav.

    11. douglas clark — on 18th January, 2010 at 9:14 pm  

      MaidMarian,

      The borderline between your untermenchen (read chav) and the working class is a fine and fragile line. People cross over it, in both directions, in a fairly fluid way.

      You say:

      The best that I have heard is that it is about almost a self-exclusion from society.

      There are times I bloody hate our society. Does that make me a chav? There are times when I look at the rest of you and just wish you’d go away and stop making Klondike claims to what the rest of us have to think, or be. Is that self exclusion? Well, maybe it is. I do not buy the consensus, certainly not yours.

      I do not want to be down there, with the chavs, but I can kind of understand how they got there…..

    12. MiriamBinder — on 18th January, 2010 at 10:22 pm  

      The way I see it, and I live on a large social housing estate with representatives of underclass, chav, working class and lower middle class; the underclass are individuals who are constitutionally unemployable. They by and large are illiterate however very clued up on all the various benefits and their ‘rights’. Chavdom is not necessarily self-exclusion from society but rather a sub-culture within society. They have a lot in common with the underclass though are distinct from them by their manner of dress as well as a tendency to congregate on street corners. The underclass does on occasions have within its circle those who are generally considered drop-outs; alcoholics and addicts. Though strictly speaking the latter two do not really belong in that group as on the whole the underclass does function whereas alcoholics and addicts are strictly speaking dysfunctional.

    13. MaidMarian — on 18th January, 2010 at 10:34 pm  

      MB - I kind of agree.

      douglas clark - ‘I do not want to be down there, with the chavs, but I can kind of understand how they got there…’ That may well be. But there is a world of difference between being kicked in the pants and chav.

    14. persephone — on 18th January, 2010 at 11:43 pm  

      Having come back to this thread after a couple of hours it seems there is a fair amount of discussion around what working class, underclass, self excluders and CHAV’s actually are.

      If we do not quite know then I wonder if they would have the same problem?

      If the education system is going to help the working class will others who do not associate themselves as such become more alienated rather than relate to it?

      By targeting the working class, are the teachers then not sending a negative message to the underclass & CHAVs etc if they see themselves as different groups?

      Its a minefield when an institution uses the term working class. Because on a level most individuals do see themselves as different in some way.

      THis is further compounded by the fact that the definition of working class, CHAV etc can change according to the person who uses it.

    15. MiriamBinder — on 19th January, 2010 at 12:15 am  

      I suppose that with regards to education it is largely down to aspiration; which in turn is something that is generally acquired from home and your immediate surroundings.
      The underclass/Chavs see very little value in education and it has very low priority in their daily lives. From my experience children are seen as primarily a by-product rather then someone whose needs should be prioritised. Sorry, let me rephrase that, a child is secondary to the parent but reflects a parents’ status within the group; in that sense a child is used to project the parents power by the level of protection it is afforded. That is protection from having to face consequences to actions; except where those actions are aimed at either the parent or someone to whom the parent is subordinate - that is someone with higher status within the group or family.

      Anyone outside of the group or family is really of little regard. School is regarded as little more then a place where a child can be left while the parent gets on with important matters. Teachers are regarded as little more then childminders. By the time most of these children reach the age where they are able to make their own way to and from school this attitude is well and truly internalised as a norm.

    16. douglas clark — on 19th January, 2010 at 4:23 am  

      Hmm…

      The few chavs I tend to encounter are basically daft. They speak exclusively for their right to be a chav. Their shell suit, tattoed exclusion zone is what makes them different. And chav and chavette. They are proud to be socially excluded. It is a measure of difference for them. A bit like Goths, except Goths have brains.

      It is clearly not right.

    17. halima — on 19th January, 2010 at 7:26 am  

      Well I did a CHAV quizz once and I was 70% CHAV perhaps higher, but I’m not socially excluded?

    18. MiriamBinder — on 19th January, 2010 at 7:38 am  

      Just an aside but has anyone else noticed the numbering of posts gone awry?

    19. damon — on 19th January, 2010 at 8:39 am  

      Douglas Clark, (as you know), in Glasgow they’re called ‘Neds’.

      There’s a lot of subjects here on one thread and I don’t know if that works.
      But on the subject of the (once) proposed Tablighi Jamaat mosque at West Ham in east London …..

      platinum786′s comments that: ”The tableegi Jamaat are not extremists. They’re more like islam’s Jehova’s, always knocking on doors and holding Islamic awareness sessions etc. ”

      If they are only that (and maybe they are), there are still grounds not to welcome them to be expanding their activities in what is still a culturally mixed neighbourhood … are there not?

      You woudn’t want the Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘taking over the neighbourhood’ so why should the ‘TJ’ followers get any warmer a welcome from Eastenders?

    20. platinum786 — on 19th January, 2010 at 9:09 am  

      The TJ own the land, nobody is setting giving over the entire east end to them, it’s just about letting them build a Masjid they want to build. The TJ are not stopping anyone else from being involved in any of their own religious activities.

      In the community I live in, Jehova’s do knock on your door, I don’t mind them, i just tell them I’m not interested in their message, they leave.

      Along the main rd full of Asian shops, in fact just outside a very large Pakistani supermarket, every weekend a christian group set up a stall, hand out leaflets and read aloud from the bible. It’s a Muslim majority area, but nobody minds, nobody says anything to them, we just walk on by if we’re not interested in listening to their message.

      Every Sunday a christain group used to walk around playing the drums with a brass band, around 10am, nobody minded, as kids we used to watch them.

      Why should people have a problem with the presence of a religious community?

      Every year in my community we have a parade done by the sikh community (i don’t know what the occasion is), another done by the Muslim community (celebrate the Birthday of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh)), and another one done by the Afro-Carrobean community. We also have a gay pride parade just to the North of the community.

      All the parades disrupt traffic for a few hours, but nobody minds, we all tolerate them.

    21. douglas clark — on 19th January, 2010 at 9:16 am  

      damon @ 19,

      ;-)

      Yup, we call them Neds.

    22. damon — on 19th January, 2010 at 11:24 am  

      Ha ha, I knew it Douglas Clark.

      I did this link on another (anti-racist, liberal) website a couple of years ago, and it fell flat.
      People didn’t like my posting it, or were suspicious of my motives (as a white bloke) for posting it.
      It’s a documentry about West Ham football hooligans in then early 1980′s.
      It’s set in what has become a hugely changed area, and you can see by watching this, that the early 80′s was almost midway through this change.
      (From what the East Ham/Newham area is today.)
      I find the first couple of minutes of this video to be quite fascinating. And it should be saved for historical reference.
      (Notice some Afro-Caribbean guys in these shots).
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou_EtZD1Fvg&feature=related

      Not to be celebrated of course ….
      but as examples of a ‘cockney’ working class culture that you’ll only see now (in that location) on match days when West Ham are playing at home.

      But platinum786, I agree with what you said much more than any of those West Ham geezers in the pub.

    23. Refresh — on 19th January, 2010 at 12:25 pm  

      ‘The working class are absolutely ‘in’ society – chav and underclass are about exclusion. It is emphatically not about the class system. There is absolutely no reason why chavs can not be from middle class backgrounds.’

      That would be an enlightened definition of Chav. And I like it.

      There is however the small matter of exclusion. Imposed or self-imposed.

      Self-imposed would in the past have been seen as ‘eccentric’ when applied to certain classes; rebelliousness or even creative. And it used to irritate me that middle (but usually upper) class people could go their own way and study what they wanted or enjoyed whereas working class kids would go straight into work or on to vocational courses. Priority for the lower orders was always to get into work as soon as possible even after graduation.

      The Chavs, and I would like to claim that title for myself too, have always been that part of the population which have had a tenuous hold in society.

      The upper working (aspirationals) and middle classes have tended to be the ones at the top of the ladder stamping on the raw fingers of the lower orders. The labour movement has been the only organised movement which sought advancement on the basis of solidarity and dignity. With solidarity being firmly pushed into the background and individualism being the new religion, it is no surprise some people are walking past the ladder altogether.

      Halima, as far as Julie Burchill is concerned she is only too willing to have some other section of society be the new chavs. She is a nasty tribalist.

    24. halima — on 19th January, 2010 at 12:59 pm  

      “Priority for the lower orders was always to get into work as soon as possible even after graduation.”

      Hahhah a bit like the middle classes (those who can afford it ) would be encouraged to send ther kids on a GAP year . So far out in India or Guatamala! Why couldn’t they also build their character in a council estate and learn about hardship on their doorsteps? Not exotic enough.

      Perhaps I was jealous on reflection

    25. Refresh — on 19th January, 2010 at 1:16 pm  

      ‘Perhaps I was jealous on reflection’

      I don’t get that impression. There is a difference between wanting something for yourself and wanting others to have it too.

      I have always argued for a massive growth in higher education; education for learning’s sake. I would like to see a similar growth in ‘GAP’ education. Whether spent here or abroad. ‘Chavs’ should be going on GAP years; and of course by that I don’t mean trips to Helmand province.

    26. douglas clark — on 19th January, 2010 at 1:20 pm  

      Damon @ 22,

      Yup, I don’t think that your video link is that out of date. Just move it four hundred miles to the North and well, it could be Rangers and Celtic supporters talking about themselves. Tribalism and all the rest of it.

      Though here is a point for you. Druggies and the rest of the Neds aren’t all that interested in football, and couldn’t really afford it if truth be told. They - the football ICF punters - are hooligans right enough, but they are a different group of thugs. They are the successful working class, the money rich, brain poor folk that make up the BNP.

      At least, that’s what I think.

      Do you remember this? FTOF?

    27. sonia — on 19th January, 2010 at 1:52 pm  

      Heh interesting discussion, however you can’t talk about class if you are going to be vaguely politically correct.

      as far as i can see, there isn’t much job security left - ‘working class’ jobs or not. (by which they mean of course a job you can get without a university education, or one where a university education will mark you out (compared to the other employees) as some kind of toff, or over-qualified, or along those lines. or a job where you will get outright hostile questions about why one needs a university education :-) )

      when i first came to live in the UK as an international student, i didn’t know what ‘working class’ meant. Seems i wasn’t the only one. ANyway, basically, from what i have been told along the way, it transpired to ‘those people who didn’t want to take advantage of a free (as it was back then) university education. (and for some bizarre reason wanted to work in really boring jobs instead, as if there wasn’t enough time for that later).

      anyway, i have no idea if this is true really or not. some people i have met along the way who claim to have a working class background have told me that they weren’t encouraged to go to university (this i find somewhat hard to believe) but do “vocational” stuff instead.

      p.s. why is chav anymore of a derogatory term more than toff? :-)

    28. sonia — on 19th January, 2010 at 1:55 pm  

      anyway perhaps its a bit of an oxymoron - when people say ‘working class’ these days they often seem to refer to people on council estates who are long-term unemployed..

    29. douglas clark — on 19th January, 2010 at 2:26 pm  

      Sonia @ 27,

      Good to see you posting on here again.

      My number two son is a joiner. As he is working for himself these days, you could argue that he was either a libertarian or a working class hero. Both of which ideas he’d reject out of hand. He just is.

      Whilst he can tie me in knots on philosophy, and be completely wrong, he is no more a philosopher than I am.

      It is not given to folk to be other than they are. It is a given that they ought to be honest and fair. I suspect that the BNP is largely made up of the British working class that think that Polish people were cheating by charging fair prices.

      Anyway, that’s what I think.

    30. Refresh — on 19th January, 2010 at 2:31 pm  

      ‘anyway, i have no idea if this is true really or not. some people i have met along the way who claim to have a working class background have told me that they weren’t encouraged to go to university (this i find somewhat hard to believe) but do “vocational” stuff instead.’

      Believe it. There were instances in the 80′s where for some encouragement amounted to no more than lessons in how to sign on. It was a most depressing period.

      Some of us were luckier, we went to schools where leaving school at 16 was considered odd.

    31. douglas clark — on 19th January, 2010 at 2:46 pm  

      Refresh and Sonia,

      Do you want to be charged a reasonable fee for a bit of decking? Or anything else?

      Rumbold has my e-mail, and the point?

      You are both playing at being better than the people you engage to do stuff for you. It is a different skill, I’d grant you both, but it is a skill.

      We can do kitchens too. Bet you can’t. ;-)

    32. damon — on 19th January, 2010 at 3:22 pm  

      After one too many Chang beers in Hat Yai, I have no clue what FTOF stands for (Douglas Clark).

      This might be slightly off topic, but you see that Youtube clip I just did - yes it’s like Rangers and Celtic, but my point was more the historical change in that part of East London.
      Can I ask you to look at the footage of that clip at 2 minutes 55 seconds.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou_EtZD1Fvg&feature=related

      See those black West Ham fans?
      That’s Cass Pennant in the blue jacket and jeans.
      The same guy who they made the film (called ”Cass”) about.

      My point was more about change. How the East End changed. About how (particularly) the area around West Ham’s football ground changed.
      When I talked about this elswhere on another website, I got short shrift, and told (basicly) to bugger off.
      It wasn’t a subject they were up for discussing.
      I thought that was a shame, as there is really so much to say about the transformation of neighbourhoods.

      Even the story of a violent guy like Cass Pennant actually has some historical importance in my opinion (given how he was brought up by white foster parents in a racist 1970′s east London).
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cass_Pennant

    33. Refresh — on 19th January, 2010 at 3:32 pm  

      Douglas, I want some decking. (As opposed to a personal decking).

      I do not want anyone to think they deserve a better career and a better life because they have a degree. I don’t go for this ‘we spent years training for this, whilst you were out earning money’ - its bullshit, that they are worth a whole lot more.

      I am with the artisan and the labourer. And anyone who is honest in their trade and dealings.

    34. halima — on 19th January, 2010 at 3:38 pm  

      Refresh

      “Chavs’ should be going on GAP years; and of course by that I don’t mean trips to Helmand province.”

      Hear , Hear.

      Has anyone seen that film with Hugh Grant when his date asks him, ‘what do you do?’ and he replies, well nothing really, and the date is shocked, and thinks it’s a joke, and he says, ‘no, it’s really true, I haven’t worked for ages, I’ve never worked’. No-one would call Grant’s Sloanie character a CHAV, and though it was a joke that he didn’t work, he was certainly not stigmatised for being long-term unemployed.

      It’s the assumptions people load onto the choices that working class groups make - when middle class groups choose not to work, it’s not stigmatising, even when they’re on the dole (benefits) and it’s only working class people unemployed long term who get stigmatised.

    35. douglas clark — on 19th January, 2010 at 3:43 pm  

      damon,

      You do know I quite like you? It takes a while on this internet thingy, but you eventually work out who is sane and who isn’t. You are usually quite sensible ;-)

      FTOF stands for Fuck the Old Firm.

      So.

      It is a bit inevitable that change will happen. The East End of London has been a traditional home for immigrants has it not? I don’t really see your point. Football hooligans are football hooligans aren’t they? Whether they are black or white or whatever. It is, perhaps, a bit disappointing that moving into an area, as I suspect Cass Pennant did, means you take up the ridiculous loyalties of the West Ham Team. Just makes you an idiot, or summat.

      Went to a game there once. I thought it was quite a friendly atmosphere. Just goes to show. And, bloody hell, how far out of central London is that? It seemed to take weeks on the Tube.

    36. halima — on 19th January, 2010 at 3:51 pm  

      While I am on my soap box…

      I don’t agree about the statement that CHAVs and the ‘underclass’ groups practice self-imposed exclusion from society - there are lazy sections in all parts of society, it’s just that given the resources and support needed for kids to get on at school, it takes more motivation and will from working class kids to do well, teenagers generally don’t really see much beyond what they want to do on Saturday night. I detest the term underclass , it’s like we’re constantly inventing new ways to judge and appraise disadvantaged groups and know who the ‘deserving poor’ are. I don’t have much time for groups that play the victim card, but neither is it right for many within our policy circles and blogsphere that wouldn’t recognise the privilege and the support they’ve had to break out of cycles of poverty. There is a statistic about Britain which says that patterns of social mobility in the UK hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years. A related point is how amazed I am to see how little my friends are aware of the privileges they’ve had and what it takes to stay on the right side of ‘society’ for a kid from a disadvantaged area. The race to do well in life starts from birth and early years: the average child from a welfare family can speak about 600 words by the age of 3 and an average child from a wealthier family can speak 3000-plus words by age 3 - there is your unequal level playing field in a nutshell before the kids even enter a nursery. Will Hutton wrote a piece on class last week on CiF illustrating this statistic.

      Orwell was spot on when he wrote that the future of Britain is determined in the playing fields of Eton, and I’d add that without this structure and order in British society, the upper classes would lose all but its sense of distinction that it so sadly lost with the ebbing of its empire, what else have we got but class to make ourselves feel better with? Maybe I’ve made a huge leap from Orwell’s considered statement to a loose off-the cuff comment about the upper classes losing it all together, but I think I have a sensible point there somewhere.

      I’d hate to be a part of any society that needs an underclass and CHAVs as a constant reference to distinguish itself which is what this agenda is about - us feeling better over something else, even smug and needing to have something to joke about that is politically incorrect but still OK to joke about. I know picklars here aren’t guilty of this and we’re having a debate and slight tease, but there is a reactionary side to the the invention and reinvention of CHAV and underclass. Are we so shallow as a society that we have to have in-built values to separate us from our neighbours?

      Britain is all about class , and nothing but class and everything else is a bit of a side show. The patronising way in which we always talk about the working class and the underclass and CHAVS would be OK if we took equal glee in taking the piss out of the middle classes and the upper classes, too, to bring a bit of balance. It all feels a bit one-sided, so why not a bit more learning to try and reflect about what makes all sections of society tick.

    37. douglas clark — on 19th January, 2010 at 3:54 pm  

      Refresh @ 33,

      OK.

      I am with the artisan and the labourer. And anyone who is honest in their trade and dealings.

      Quite.

    38. Rumbold — on 19th January, 2010 at 4:09 pm  

      Douglas:

      You are both playing at being better than the people you engage to do stuff for you.

      Eh? Sorry, I don’t follow you.

      We can do kitchens too. Bet you can’t.

      I can’t.

    39. douglas clark — on 19th January, 2010 at 4:11 pm  

      halima @ 36,

      Great post.

      I’m not too sure about this bit though:

      Orwell was spot on when he wrote that the future of Britain is determined in the playing fields of Eton, and I’d add that without this structure and order in British society, the upper classes would lose all but its sense of distinction that it so sadly lost with the ebbing of its empire, what else have we got but class to make ourselves feel better with? Maybe I’ve made a huge leap from Orwell’s considered statement to the upper classes losing it all together, but I think I have a sensible point there somewhere.

      My highlighting.

      It is completely to the point to say that a class ridden society is corrupt. My grandparents were probably no better off than folk living in the colonies. The only folk that benefited from the British Empire were the second or other children of the upper classes. The distinction that ought to be drawn, absent Dalbirs’ rantings, is one of class, or arguably the failure of all of British society to see the wood from the trees. And we didn’t.

      It is not much different to be a chimney sweep or a diamond miner. Your wages were shit, your life expectancy was terrible, and you had no rights whatsoever.

    40. sonia — on 19th January, 2010 at 4:15 pm  

      when was i pretending to be better than anyone? douglas clark you ought to know me better than that!

      i don’t understand the british/protestant work ethic i must admit and that’s what my tone was implying if anything. mind you these days i’m wishing i could acquire it somehow.

      as for being self-employed and creative amen to that.

    41. douglas clark — on 19th January, 2010 at 4:32 pm  

      Rumbold @ 38,

      I’d have thought it was obvious and it is certainly not directed at you. I tend not to pick fights with friends ;-)

      My point, such as it is, is that we need tradesmen and women, as much as we need anyone else. I am not, much, into elitism. Which both posters appeared to be saying. Although Refresh has clarified his position and we are best of chums again.

      He had this to say:

      I am with the artisan and the labourer. And anyone who is honest in their trade and dealings.

      Which I respect. It is my point of view too.

    42. Refresh — on 19th January, 2010 at 4:35 pm  

      Good post Halima.

      Douglas, that is an excellent point. What benefit was the empire to the working class and the chavs of their day? Other than ‘the opportunity’ to slave?

      The upper classes really did have it all didn’t they - slaves at home and slaves abroad producing goods for an enslaved market.

      Yes its all about class.

    43. Rumbold — on 19th January, 2010 at 4:36 pm  

      Douglas:

      My point, such as it is, is that we need tradesmen and women, as much as we need anyone else.

      I agree. As does Sonia. I just got confused. If I needed decking, I would come to you (though you might have rather a long trek). Heh.

    44. douglas clark — on 19th January, 2010 at 4:41 pm  

      sonia,

      You know I have enormous respect for you. However:

      ANyway, basically, from what i have been told along the way, it transpired to ‘those people who didn’t want to take advantage of a free (as it was back then) university education. (and for some bizarre reason wanted to work in really boring jobs instead, as if there wasn’t enough time for that later).

      anyway, i have no idea if this is true really or not. some people i have met along the way who claim to have a working class background have told me that they weren’t encouraged to go to university (this i find somewhat hard to believe) but do “vocational” stuff instead.

      I am sorry, but I see that as a tad elitist. It is saying, correct me if I am wrong, that vocational is less worthy than uni. I don’t think that is true.

      Anyway, do you need a new kitchen?

    45. halima — on 19th January, 2010 at 5:01 pm  

      Douglas, Refresh thanks,

      Still, perhaps I am confused myself about this lines Douglas has highlighted.

      I used the wrong Empire to demonstrate my point. The British Empire wasn’t the pursuit of the aristocracy; most of the British Empire was built through commerce, so not through the aristocracy, but the merchant class. The aristocratic empire was earlier and probably Spanish colonies are better example.

      But I guess I am trying to formulate an idea, a premature one, in my head, which is about Britain’s inability to lose its strong sense of class with its declining influence as a global power. The more insecure Britain feels about it’s position in the world the more likely we/Britain are/is to hold on to reactionary values – that are old, ossified and out-dated. Human nature and the way states compete with each other is quite similar, of course. Society, in my opinion, can confidently move forward when its confident and buoyant in its sense of identity – Britain is confused and so the longer it’s stays confused, and is declining, the more likely it is that class is entrenched, re-entrenched within our domestic playing fields.

      You’re right that class corrupts the whole system and everyone/everything is tainted by it.

      “It is not much different to be a chimney sweep or a diamond miner. Your wages were shit, your life expectancy was terrible, and you had no rights whatsoever.”

      I’ll try and remember this quote when I need it - excellent points as Refresh says , it’s the merchant class or the aristocrats that benefit most, and the rest of us are left behind while history marches on.

    46. douglas clark — on 19th January, 2010 at 5:02 pm  

      Rumbold @ 43, Sonia @ 40, anyone else reading this,

      You both know I see you as my best chums on the internet, don’t you? I have genuinely missed you from around here Sonia, as it gave me no-one to agree with all of the time. We are two bugs in a rug.

      And as for Rumbold thinking I was deliberately picking a fight? I can do that. But certainly with neither of you two. I respect both of you too much.

      I kind of know who my friends are, and the folk that keep me sane. And you two are the best of the best.

      So there!

    47. douglas clark — on 19th January, 2010 at 5:30 pm  

      halima @ 45,

      It is fascinating to see you work through ideas. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, just in case you did.

      You could be correct about the construction of the British Empire, although it may lean too much towards the British East India Company model, rather than the alienated Quaker movement that colonised a substantial chunk of North America. Should we see that as a religious as opposed to mercantilist movement?

      I’d have thought, correct me if I am wrong, that the British Empire grew just because it could.

      I’d also have thought that concepts of Empire were largely finished when I was growing up, which is a long time ago. That is not to say that some folk don’t still cleave to the notion. I am just putting this out for you to consider, but I’d think that the folk that support the Commonwealth nowadays might be amongst them. Which tends not to be your average punter, it is largely an upper class conceit. Most of us punters don’t really think about it much…

      Make of that what you will.

    48. halima — on 19th January, 2010 at 6:14 pm  

      Douglas, thanks , let me mull over this one! It’s late where I am need so need to sleep.

    49. damon — on 20th January, 2010 at 5:53 am  

      Douglas Clark

      It is a bit inevitable that change will happen. The East End of London has been a traditional home for immigrants has it not? I don’t really see your point. Football hooligans are football hooligans aren’t they?

      Yes. But I wasn’t talking about hooliganism particularly. But that by watching and listening to those guys you caught a snapshot of a paticular culture in a certain time.

      In other segments of that documentary you see clips of Queens market next to Upton Park tube station in Green street, and you see some elderly white market traders.
      Probably dead by now, but if you know the area today it does take you back a bit. White cockney market traders in East Ham?

      Kind of like The Barras market in Glasgow, it had a particular culture. It seems that (who knows, perhaps a majority?) of the people you see in East Ham today, were not there when that documentary was filmed.
      Of course the young Asian Brits weren’t even born, but many other people who now work in the shops and resturants along there seem to not have been in England that long.

      What’s my point? It’s not really a huge one. But on this website we all hate the BNP and think their arguments are worthless.
      I suppose my point is, that holligans or not, those guys were at the same time very typical of their place and class, and just might be the kind of people who might resent sweeping change in their neighbourhood.
      Afterall, the Indian Subcontinant has a very different culture, and there must have been some friction as the demographic change took place.

      For example, apart from the times when West Ham have a home match, if there was ever to be trouble between groups of lads (and one lot were white guys like in the youtube clip) and the other lot were local Asian British lads) - the white blokes would probably get their arses kicked, as the Asian guys would probably be able to call for back up (by mobile phone) within minutes, and the white guys would probably know it and leave the area quickly.

      Whether this is a subject worthy of anyone’s time I don’t know. I was told before that it was not (and that I was coming across like a racist). But anyway, it’s just something that I often think about as I travel about London’s neighbourhoods.

      And West Ham is a bloody long way out.
      It was built as East End overspill, as the origional east end is just that bit to the east of the City. In it’s day the terraced streets of Newham must have been like a new town populated by the tennants of the slums of the old east end. (Remember ”Oliver” where Fagin and his lads lived?).

      I suppose the point of my posts were to try to understand the mindset of those 1980′s football fans.
      Just as today we struggle to understand the mentality of Rod Liddle and his pals on the Millwall fans website.

    50. sonia — on 21st January, 2010 at 4:03 pm  

      sorry you feel the way you do douglas but i fail to see how my comment implied anything about tradesmen or women. no connection whatsoever - with going to university or not, and no connection with my idea of work ethics (that applies just as much to university educated work-crazy investment banker types).

      i’d say its not me that is “devaluing” tradescraft -don’t know why you’re associating it with my comments. its something i think is highly specialised and requires talent and skill. and yes i am “elitist” - don’t see why i shouldn’t be - In as much as there are talented people and there aren’t - and why would i go to a rubbish tradesperson>>?? there are ‘elite’ tradesmen and women and jolly well it should be!

    51. sonia — on 21st January, 2010 at 4:17 pm  

      and yeah i think there’s nothing wrong with “elitism” - it just depends on who you consider the elite and why. its stupid not to challenge the fact that some people have had a self-declared monopoly on them being the ‘elite blue-bloods’ - as we know these things are self-fulfilling prophecies. as far as i can see, the new ‘elites’ are the funky cool self-employed artisans of all sorts in whitechapel and why shouldn’t they consider themselves an ‘elite’ of sorts if they want?

    52. douglas clark — on 21st January, 2010 at 4:19 pm  

      Sonia @ 50,

      Glad we’ve got that sorted out then.

    53. sonia — on 21st January, 2010 at 4:32 pm  

      douglas dear - i am glad we have! :-) happy new year! actually it is interesting what you bring up - i have just returned from marrakesh and it is amazing what they have managed to do in morocco: retain medieval and older crafts and they are keeping the knowlege alive, still have similar apprenticeships going as back in the day, and the government and society value these highly enough as an art and commission them within public projects to ensure they can carry on as independent artisans.

    54. douglas clark — on 21st January, 2010 at 10:07 pm  

      sonia,

      And a happy new year to you too!

      Given your comment about Marrakesh, this might resonate a bit for you?

      Claude Carpentieri on Liberal Conspiracy talking about Cadburys:

      And until any of the major political parties will say loud and clear that Britain can’t carry on turning into a country exclusively centred around City gambles with the rest working in call centres and mobile phone shops, we will witness similar devastation time and time again.

      I think that what he has to say and what you have to say may well be two sides of the same coin.

    55. halima — on 22nd January, 2010 at 3:19 am  

      “the new ‘elites’ are the funky cool self-employed artisans of all sorts in whitechapel and why shouldn’t they consider themselves an ‘elite’ of sorts if they want?”

      Because they would die first then consider themselves as ‘elites’ - they’d no longer be cutting edge, they’d lose their will to live and produce the tormented art they do! In any case they can’t afford Whitechapel anymore and have moved onto Dalston where they can’t also afford to live anymore..

    56. halima — on 22nd January, 2010 at 4:40 am  

      Douglas

      Yes, I think the East India Company model was the embodiment of a mercantile movement, not because the British didn’t have an interest in importing religion or love for queen and country, but because the British Empire historically followed the Spanish and the Portuguese ones. The Spanish Empire was aristocratic, more religious and more consuming of the places it conquered and embedded its influence in. From what I can tell and I haven’t studied this in much depth, local indigenous culture and language were destroyed altogether, whereas by the time the British came along the idea of the noble savage and colonialism by cheaper means was common currency. I don’t know that much about the Quaker movement in South America, I’ve only seen movies with Robert De Nero falling into the amazing Iguazu waterfall in the Mission which is about the Spanish Jesuits.

      I don’t know whether the British Empire just grew - though probably agree economics has a habit of explaining a lot and the politics follows. Empire can re-create itself in so many ways, perhaps the British adapted and took on imperialism because times had changed, in pretty much the same way that now multinational companies operate as they do. I’d be interested in seeing parallels between the old East India Dock company (s) and the new multinational companies . Interestingly, though neither colonialism and imperialism lasted, and I am counting the days to see how this new form of control and influence will be fought off. Michael Hardt’s written quite powerfully about this in his book Empire, but i suspect it’s a little too left wing for most people.

    57. halima — on 22nd January, 2010 at 4:41 am  

      The idea of Empire is finished, true, but the loss and how to re-imagine British identity is directly tied to the vacuum empire has left behind. That’s why I was saying that [perhaps] there’s a need in the British psyche to want to be able to hang onto a strong sense of identity which previously the Empire afforded. Maybe for the aristocracy this strong sense of identity comes from clinging onto class, and for the rest of us the fact that we lost an Empire doesn’t mean much. But Britain’s role and place in the world is hardly inconsequential in the minds of our leaders. I don’t even think it’s the aristocracy that thinks a huge amount class - except when it comes to the need to defend fox hunting, they’re really in a diminishing world of their own and as we know real aristocrats don’t work, it’s TOO demeaning for them. No, I think it’s the middle classes that cling onto class so much more, because they need something to hang on their anxieties on about their position in society. Hence the vitriolic protestations at the development of CHAVs and the underclass in the media generally. Why is social mobility so revered in our society - other than the pressing need to pay the rent and be comfortable materially? It seems it’s an elusive treadmill for most people. Taste and distinction - why do we need it? To maintain the middle classes sense of its own position when anyone can make new money these days - think City of London and the changes there, and the property boom. This might explain why CHAV can sometimes refer to people who don’t have money and people who have a lot of money. Whichever way you look at it - the discourse around CHAV and the underclass is about people’s need to set themselves apart from others, make themselves feel better.

      But leaving aside the need to have a dig at the middle classes, I think the arts movement in Britain is also part of this search for re-invention of Britain’s identity following the Empire, so it’s not always a negative trend.

    58. douglas clark — on 22nd January, 2010 at 6:54 am  

      halima @ 56, 57,

      Interesting thoughts.

      You may love or hate my comment here:

      KJB,

      Thanks for the word ’sardar’. I am, presumably British, and I ain’t no sardar.

      Did you miss all the stuff about class in British society? I’d argue, if you’ll let me, that working class Britons in the UK were treated as badly as anyone in the Empire. And, back in those days, there was a pretty ginormous working class, a small artisan class and a tiny gang of upper class bastards. Who ruled us all.

      There is absolutely no benefit, that is obvious to me at least, to 99% of the UK population over the period of Empire.

      We suffered in slums, we were exported when we were inconvenient to the ruling class, we were starved to death for fun if Jonathan Swift is a judge; you can download a read at it here:

      http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/1080

      We were stuck in fucking coal mines and died. We were used as cannon fodder in the first world war, and died. And then the bastards had another war. We were fucked about as much as anyone else in history by the aristocracy.

      Bitter about that whole era?

      Moi?

      Fucking right.

      I am getting fairly pissed off with the idea that the exploitation of humans is a racial thing. It is, and always has been, a class thing.

      And they will, exploit you and abuse you and me, and anyone else they can get their hands on. For that is what they fucking well do.

      We now have an intermediary class that think an enormous amount of themselves.

      They are called journalists or media punters. It is now that they tell us what to think or say.

      Sunny Hundal has finally realised just what an artisan class that actually is. His nemesis was Catherine Bennett, mine was Madeleine Bunting.

      And that was a long time ago.

      The pile of drek that is social organisation and control falls apart when people are given the freedom to speak for themselves. It seems to me that we have sometimes elevated fools to comment in newspapers. And that newspapers will defend their own.

      It also seems to me that they are no better than us, you or me. That their opinions, despite their ubiquitousness, are probably rather cheap.

      There are a lot of people that comment here that have more to say, more ‘bottom’ than any journalist.

      Which is rather to cut away at the idea of journalism as a profession.

      I do not agree with everything that is said here, you’ll have noticed, but your right to say it is something I hope I’ll always support.

      Which, whilst not directly relevant, is a bit relevant.

      Expanding on what you have to say at 56, it seems to me, at least, that the British Empire was an economically exploitative enterprise. It wasn’t, except maybe in Africa, about hearts and minds, it was about efficient methods of wealth extraction and used methods that Dalbir in particular has correctly identified. I recall, to this day, the quite disgraceful fact that, as a child, I gave money, hard earned pennies, to so-called charities whose whole intention was in fact to convert Africans to Christianity. I shudder, no I really do, when I recall that.

      The exploration bit, and the general lack of meaningful resistance, does I think explain, but not excuse the British Empire.

      The vast majority of deaths to indigenous folk in North America were caused by disease rather than battle. (OK, I’d need to confirm that somewhere, but I seem to recall that Europeans were a personal biological weapon system before we even knew what that was.)

      So, no excuses from me at least. Your parallels to multi nationals seem to me to be completely correct.

      Interesting discussion.

      You don’t have to, but I’d quite like like it if you did, see most historical folk in this country - y’know white working class folk - as much as victims of Empire and Capitalism - red in tooth and claw - as anyone else. But, maybe, that is a step too far. Who excuses the Roman soldiers empiricism, just because he too was a victim?

      Your points at 57 are well made. There seems to me to be a strand of UK society that has never really recovered from an ‘us and them’ opinion. It seems to me that there is still a ludicrous ‘master’ / ‘servant’ attitude prevelant with BNP types in particular. Quite how they square that with, say, hospital consultants of colour is beyond me. It is the ludicrous idea that white is better.

      Enough!

      That is roughly where I am coming from, and, as I said, I don’t really feel at all comfortable with being told I am part of an an imperialist mob, ’cause I ain’t.

      Thanks for reading….

    59. persephone — on 22nd January, 2010 at 10:59 am  

      Good post @ 58 Douglas

    60. sonia — on 22nd January, 2010 at 11:53 am  

      did #britain# have ‘one’ identity around the time of Empire? or any one time? and what identity would that be - that the Establishment put forward - or some other identity?

      so often we hear of the identity of any one country - i mean sure, its normal to refer to these things - but
      how is it we really can evaluate the ‘identity’ of an entire nation? so many different individuals, so many different circumstances, so many different (and often competing) interests. For example - at the time of Empire, only a few people were profiting (plus, given the fact that so many ‘social’ policies are from this century and post-war).

      i know its become a common thing to think of a ‘country’ as something tangible, and yes social scientists will often use it as the unit of analysis - but what is identity on a national scale about? is it about a ‘proferred’ identity by the leaders - handed out top-down - for example - ‘Britain is a strong nation! You must feel proud of our country! We are…’
      which then - people take on - to different extents/levels/disagreements?

      I mean i know how it works in countries where no secret is made of the fact that social control & homogeneity is desirable: this is what “we” as a group think - and this is our “culture”. (any sign of trying to hint at anything different is not taken kindly to)

    61. Jai — on 22nd January, 2010 at 12:11 pm  

      Halima et al,

      If anyone wants to get a pretty thorough overview of the East India Company and the events, motivations and methods involved in the establishment of the British Empire in India in particular (from the arrival of the first European traders to the events of 1857 centuries later), then I very strongly recommend White Mughals and The Last Mughal, both by William Dalrymple.

      Both exhaustively-researched books are very, very educational reading, and frequently extremely eye-opening too.

    62. persephone — on 22nd January, 2010 at 1:48 pm  

      I see it as generic - empire building that is.

      Much is made by country led Empires. But the underlying motives are the same regardless of what scale & whether by a nation, a small group, religion or indeed in a family. I accept that some empires are more effective at enforcing/selling their ways than others.

      Essentially any empire is led by a small section of people/individual with the attributes of a leader. That leader is very effective at getting a message across and gathering more power and influence to instill the best way forward as a group/ in this country/this office/this religion/this house.

      Empire building happens as people always strive to build power and influence. And people want control, order & consensus over what is done & how it is done.

      That builds an identity or ‘how we do things round here’. Then a small section of people barrack against the status quo for change that normally means a new leader is sought and so a new identity begins to be forged (or so we think). That new leader will symbolise what a small contingent want and be adept at selling it to the masses.

      Empire building still exists and is an everyday part of our lives - personal, political and at work.

    63. halima — on 23rd January, 2010 at 6:38 pm  

      Jai @ 61, thanks for the tip, I am feeling a bit left out by not reading Dalrymple , White Muguls does indeed sound fascinating, and if it sheds light on the workings of the East India Dock Company I’d be fascinated. I quite enjoy getting behind ofificial history by reading social or cultural accounts. I came across Indian Ink
      Script and Print in the Making of the English East India Company by Miles Ogborn which sounded really interesting.

    64. halima — on 23rd January, 2010 at 6:40 pm  

      Douglas, ‘Enough’? I don’t think we’re with this topic yet; it’s by far the one topic that holds the key to a lot of unsolved mysteries about the way things are done in Britain. Thanks for your response, and I wanted to think before hitting the keyboard as I usually do!

      Class in Britain is pretty much what makes it all tick in Britain. It’s an uncomfortable topic for many people, but it fascinates me. The working classes generally don’t like to talk about class, the middle classes hate owning up to anything that talks about their privilege, and the aristocrats - I don’t know what they think, as soon as anyone reeks of a title I can’t keep a straight face. (But I did have a coffee with someone today who told me upon graduating he was invited to join the East India Club by his mates, and we both concluded the said mates in question were most likely to be aristocrats).

      One thing I have never worked out is why is class so entrenched in British society compared to other countries that have kings and queens or developed from being oligarchic societies? Yes, we have elites in other countries, but they seem to reproduce themselves through other means - not just by dint of birth. I was watching a film about Beatrice Potter’s early life and was reminded that there are people in this world who don’t believe in the virtue of work and see this to be totally socially beneath them - whereas the working classes imbue a morality based on work. How much of a contrast can you get - which goes back to my point that we only derive identity by defining ourselves what we are not, as opposed to what we are together.

      But you raise an interesting provocation:

      “You don’t have to, but I’d quite like it if you did, see most historical folk in this country – y’know white working class folk – as much as victims of Empire and Capitalism – red in tooth and claw – as anyone else.”

      Of course, it would follow that the aristocrats would treat their own lower classes with as much hatred as it possible - fear and loathing of one’s internal enemies and monsters can at times be more violent. The only point I’d make, though, is that those subjected to colonialism and imperialism were messed about twice - once by their own elites and then by the colonialists/imperialists. It’s a double whammy, though once you’re exploited and dead as you say in a coalmine what difference does it make what the cause of the exploitation is.

      Exploitation of the working classes in England would’ve taken place with or without Empire. I don’t know if one exacerbated the other – what do you think?

      Although, I’d say that pure exploitation is one thing, and Empire deals with a whole set of other questions, such as London ruling 3/4 quarters of the globe. Exploitation of people in Victorian London and study of the British Empire, are different, everyone had historical suffering, but I think they’re different sets of debates.

    65. halima — on 23rd January, 2010 at 6:43 pm  

      I quite agree with Persephone that Empire building is always taking place.

      I don’t think the link between working class East London in Poplar and the Empire is an academic or historic point. Empire building carries on, it recreates itself… and we can trace this story from the relationship between the East India Dock in East London and the workings of the Empire ‘out there’. I don’t think the lot of the working class ‘here’ was that unrelated with the Empire ‘out there’. Jane Jacobs wrote an interesting book called the Edge of Empire a while back, which traced the outer edges of the Empire (the settlements etc) with the inner Empire in places like East London where Bengalis settled. I quite liked the idea of the inner empire (what’s here) and the outer empire (what’s out there’) because it joins the dots in the colonial story to explain why many people like myself came to live in London.

      Georgina Weymss for instance in her highly original book ‘The Invisible Empire’ takes forward some of these ideas and argues that imperial Britain and places like East India Dock Road in Poplar (in London) are still inextricably linked in the telling of British identity today. It’s all alive and happening today. She draws the story out a bit more to demonstrate how celebrations of colonial settlements and Empire (which routinely take place in heritage events in East London) involve the depiction of a mutual white belonging that links white Englishness with white Americas by the highlighting Britain’s Blackwall (in East London) links to Jamestown in America, a relationship which is then associated with values of freedom and democracy with colonialism (the benevolent west). But at the same time any idea that British Bengalis and their part in this story of Empire are missing, but more importantly the violence and the oppression of British colonialism is silenced.

      Sorry for sounding a little bookish but i am quite fascinated by the re-workings of class and empire..

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