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  • Who has betrayed the white-working class?

    by Sunny
    3rd November, 2006 at 4:46 pm    

    Given the general frenzied tone of most articles covering race or faith related issues, one emerging trend seems to have escaped attention.

    Last week The Economist carried an article on Britain’s “forgotten underclass“, with a tagline stating: ‘Muslims and blacks get more attention. But poor whites are in a worse state’.

    This is a bold statement to make but not without merit.

    The article briefly examines three issues in turn: education, unemployment and crime; citing statistics to show that while poorer ethnic minority kids are doing their best to get ahead in society, white working-class kids are languishing behind.

    It states: “Just 32% of all white children there got five “good” GCSEs last year, compared with 39% of blacks and 52% of Asians. In Leicester, just 24% of whites got five decent GCSEs.”

    Further down it adds: “But whites actually commit more crime. A large survey carried out by the Home Office in 2003 found that white men were more likely to admit to having broken the law in the past year than were blacks, Asians or people of mixed race. Fully 18% of whites aged 10 to 25 admitted to a violent crime, and 15% said they had committed a theft. Young whites are also most likely to take Class-A drugs (the most serious kind).”

    white kids

    So I return to the question that the Economist hasn’t asked: who exactly is to blame? I believe there are a few inter-related answers.

    An obvious direction to point the finger at would be the government. Going by the stats New Labour has obviously failed at state-sponsored regeneration of cities that have been hit hard by globalisation and the decline of manufacturing. Without opportunities the kids have no incentive to study while all the incentives are there to get into crime.

    And then there is housing. “[whites] worry less about competition for jobs than about public services,” says the Economist. In April I pointed out how Margaret Hodge MP had ignored her traditional voter base in Barking until election time when she started blaming immigrants. It virtually ignored the BNP’s lies that Africans we being paid £50,000 to move into the area, probably because it thought it would play into their hands.

    New Labour has failed the white working-classes because it prefers to blame immigrants and other minorities rather than deal with problems on the ground. As Peter Oborne recently said, the veil “controversy” indicated that New Labour had rediscovered the white working-class vote and set out to pander to their prejudices again. But sooner or later voters will realise that fatuous debates on the veil or segregation will not make their housing or public transport any better. Then Labour will get thrashed in the elections.

    More worrying is that the media has swallowed this agenda too. Where is the Sun or Daily Mirror outrage that their readers are being abandoned? Sure, it’s easy for The Sun to blame Muslims or immigrants or regurgitate BNP ideas but the latter has no excuse. Instead, fearful of criticising Tony Blair, they have fallen for an agenda that leads us to inane debates rather than a serious look at reality.

    The mid-market dailies and broadsheets seem to be more concerned with Middle England or chasing the same debates that New Labour lays out for them.

    I’ll say something I intend to keep repeating hence. The fight by minority groups for equality of opportunity, better public services, dealing with social deprivation and educational under-achievement is a fight that concerns all Britons. It should never be about one tribe over another.

    Hence, the third group to fail the white working-classes are the new generation of anti-racist campaigners who continue to paint minorities as victims rather than making their fight about the betterment of British society in general. They, along with the government, have continued to push the idea that it is Muslims and blacks who are the problem (I refer here to socio-economic problems not terrorism). Is it any surprise they get the undue attention?

    It disturbs me that race and religion have become so prominent in debates that are essentially about socio-economic problems. We have arrived at this state not because the government has pumped more money into minority communities (the article lays this to rest) but because real problems are confused because religion and race (in fear of immigrants) are used to muddle the real problems.

    Since Britain’s increasingly marginalised whites have no one to represent their voice, apart from those who want to use them as a political football, they end up getting very little real help. And yet they are now the ones that need it most.

    An edited version is on comment is free.

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    1. Tim Worstall

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    1. Kismet Hardy — on 3rd November, 2006 at 5:06 pm  

      Whenever our white brothers & sisters feel at their most disaffected, something amazing always follows something bad…

      Fear of communism and immigration was followed by the Flower Generation, Race riots and the rise of the NF was followed by Punk, Football hooliganism and council estate violence followed by the Rave Generation

      They’re onto Islamophobia. Give it a while. A new drug and a new musical movement will sort it out

    2. Bert Preast — on 3rd November, 2006 at 5:10 pm  

      It was me. Sorry. I’ll try not to do it again.

    3. Bert Preast — on 3rd November, 2006 at 5:16 pm  

      “Where is the Sun or Daily Mirror outrage that their readers are being abandoned? Sure, it’s easy for The Sun to blame Muslims or immigrants or regurgitate BNP ideas but the latter has no excuse. Instead, fearful of criticising Tony Blair, they have fallen for an agenda that leads us to inane debates rather than a serious look at reality.”

      Er, run that by me again. The Mirror is fearful of criticising Tony Blair? Or could it be that there aren’t any journalists who are white working class or who have any sympathy with them anymore?

    4. Bert Preast — on 3rd November, 2006 at 5:17 pm  

      “As Peter Oborne recently said, the veil “controversy” indicated that New Labour had rediscovered the white working-class vote and set out to pander to their prejudices again.”

      Yes, makes my point rather well, doesn’t it?

    5. soru — on 3rd November, 2006 at 5:47 pm  

      You know, you could take that graph, turn it on it’s side, and say ‘being an Indian female means you can have 5 O levels and still have a 42% chance of being poor’.

      I suspect that way of reading the graph is more accurate - it’s minorities and immigrants who can have middle-class pro-education cultural values and still end up economically poor.

    6. Bert Preast — on 3rd November, 2006 at 5:53 pm  

      To be fair O levels/GCSEs make no difference to earnings. Jobs are graduate or non graduate rather than GCSE or non GCSE. All they really mean is your chance to move on in higher education.

    7. genghis — on 3rd November, 2006 at 6:28 pm  

      Its that fucking chav with a burberry baseball cap with drainpipe jeans and white trainers and his souped up fucking nova…

      And the fucker is right across my house now! basted!

    8. Clairwil — on 3rd November, 2006 at 6:57 pm  

      I think there are a number of factors. Loss of
      traditional industries, increased materialism, less deference towards social institutions, drugs, break up of long standing communities through redevelopment,
      careerist politicians representing no-one but themselves and a whole lot more.

      One thing I have noticed is a hardening of attitudes towards the white poor. From laughing at ‘chavs’ to hatred of single mothers etc. It is regarded as acceptable to denigrate the white working classes in ways that would not be accepted if they were applied to blacks, asians etc.

      I work with asylum seekers and the comment I get most often is about how awful it is that the poor asylum seekers have to live with ‘these’ people. Similarly if an asylum seeker is racially attacked no-one is surprised but if I mention the number of white working class people who have bent over backwards to welcome asylum seekers and have got involved in campaigning against dawn raids etc I’m looked at as if I’m delusional. It is also worth noting that the people who attack asylum seekers also do the same to any white person they perceive as weaker, yet that seldom attracts much media intrest or middle class hand ringing. Well what do they expect living in a bad area?

      There also seems to be an underlying attitude of the deserving and undeserving poor in a lot of otherwise liberal people. Poor ethnic minorities who for example
      commit crime have umpteen excuses made for them from racism to culture. Whereas the white criminal is scum motivated by greed or idiocy. And do not start about their awful eating habits!

      Look at how white working class culture is sneered at. Any flag waving or display of patriotism is automatically deemed racist yet minorities are encouraged to celebrate their culture.

      Grrrr! I’m rather annoyed now.

    9. Yakoub/Julaybib — on 3rd November, 2006 at 7:12 pm  

      “But whites actually commit more crime…”

      Erm, no they don’t:
      According to the 2001 Statistical Review from the Home Office, 8% of prisoners in England were Muslim. Today, the percentage may be higher.
      In 2001, the census reported there were 1.6 million Muslims living in Britain in 2001. This group comprised 3 per cent of the total population.



    10. Don — on 3rd November, 2006 at 7:15 pm  


      Good points. The idea that there is a ‘white trash’ segment of society which it is legitimate to mock and despise is, I suspect, fairly recent and is just starting to be recognised. Perhaps in twenty years Jimmy Carr and Little Britain will be viewed as Jim Davidson or Bernard Manning are today.

      I blame Thatcher, but that’s just on general principal.

    11. Bert Preast — on 3rd November, 2006 at 7:16 pm  

      “Look at how white working class culture is sneered at”

      You’re right. But to me workshy Nova drivers are not white working class culture. All over the news today was the recruiting problems in the armed forces, traditionally a ground where the white working class can shine.

      Their preferring to sit on the dole can probably be ascribed to lack of discipline in their education and that of their parents. Building sites are filling with Poles while the WWC sit about. This can probably be ascribed to a government desire to pander to the capitalists. I mean, I understand if mining in the UK is no longer viable but every country will always need builders ffs. To date it’s still preferable to build on site than try and import a block of flats. Or perhaps this comes down to education too - an attitude among teachers that anyone who isn’t going to go on to higher education can be written off at age 12.

    12. Don — on 3rd November, 2006 at 7:26 pm  


      Commit more crime vs end up in prison. Admitting to drug use, for example, would cover most of the people I know, none of whom are likely to do jail time. Low-level criminally anti-social activity seldom results in prison.

      Perhaps the type of crime differs, but it’s dangerous to draw conclusions from headline stats.

    13. Yakoub/Julaybib — on 3rd November, 2006 at 7:31 pm  

      The reasons why white people are ‘at the bottom of the heap’ may have less to do with socio-economics than social class.

      The economy in Britain today is increasingly geared towards enriching middle class graduate information handlers and technocrats. But wealth creation associated with working class occupations has been marginalised by an over-academic education system and culture that demeans all forms of work associated with the working class, from the skilled engineer to the humble plumber and bricky.

      Indeed, many skilled working class occupations have been deprofessionalised in the last three decades as part of the neoliberal drive for ‘deregulation.’ Hence why a growing number of middle class people prefer Eastern European tradesman (in Poland, non-academic children attend technical schools from aged 14).

      At the same time, as Mike Savage has pointed out, British culture now centres around the middle classes. The British working classes, once ‘the salt of the earth’, are now either ignored or belittled in the popular imagination. Middle class people look to their peers for cultural models, and one of their defining attitudes is censure of social difference.

      Less bound by class tradition, South Asian and Black children are better able to use the education system to access middle class society. But the ultimate challenge is to address middle class attitudes to social difference at the same time as raising the status of a broader number of economic opportunities.



    14. Clairwil — on 3rd November, 2006 at 7:38 pm  

      I realise the WWC has it’s fair share of skivers, chancers etc. As do all classes, Jonathan Aitken anyone? However I think this is always unfairly emphasised. I work in Easterhouse which is one of, if not the poorest areas in Scotland. I’m frequently told that ‘no-one works’ in Easterhouse yet the most recent figures show that 70% of residents are in full time employment with the other 30% made up of part-time workers, full time mothers, pensioners, short term sick/unemployed, long term ill and no doubt a few skivers. What the figures don’t show is the amount of people who do full time voluntary work mainly retired or long term unemployed. The area would grind to a halt were it not for the hours of unpaid work done by the people who can least afford to give their time away. I think the ‘preferring’ to sit on the dole argument is slightly unfair in most cases. Though I think you are right about parental influence and bad education. Too often schools function as somewhere to contain unruly kids rather than places of education.

      Your point about higher education is spot on. I would go further. Why do all schoolchildren need to be frightened into going to University at 18? Quite frankly many middle class children would benefit from a few years in a call centre prior to study.

      The army is one ‘way out’ for working class youth. As was sport, particularly football and boxing all of which are good for channelling aggression, fitness, sense of worth etc. Though of course footballers are a bit ‘chavvy’ and boxing is beyond the pale.

      The way traditional working class pastimes are stamped on is another problem. Pigeons are still pretty popular up here yet the council treat the building of a doocot on a bit of waste ground as the end of western civilisation. You can hardly expect people who are constantly told they are wrong, a nuisance, wasters and so on to grow up into self reliant, self confident citizens.

    15. Amrit — on 3rd November, 2006 at 7:39 pm  

      It’s really quite obvious what should be done.

      Julie Burchill needs to become the working classes’ political spokesperson! I mean, she’s pretty much elected herself already…

    16. Clairwil — on 3rd November, 2006 at 7:45 pm  

      ‘Julie Burchill needs to become the working classes’ political spokesperson! I mean, she’s pretty much elected herself already…’

      As if they didn’t have enough problems!

    17. Douglas Clark — on 3rd November, 2006 at 8:09 pm  


      Is this comment ridiculous or what? It seems to me to chime with a lot of what you have said here, but shoot me down if I’m wrong.

      I think the aspirational ambitions of immigrant communities is a given in the UK. When West Indians, for instance, came here in the 1950′s, it was to take jobs that the white population wouldn’t. And they did them, for a while. And then they moved on. More money to be made in constucting roads or whatever.

      Glasgow 1959, or so. My first encounter with a Sikh was when some stupid protochav hit my head off the bus he was driving. Fortunately for me I was not hurt, but the driver had me back down to see if I was OK. It was quite astounding that the bus driver asked me ” Err, boy, are all right”? And to be able to say I was “Awright”. It was also amazing that he had a posh English accent and he had a green thing on his head. I suspect, with the benefit of hindsight, that he was off the buses and into something better as fast as he could run.

      The point I am trying to make is that immigrants start at the bottom, largely, but they have ambitions. They generally achieve them. That is what our society is about. Unfortunately, if you want to be a chav, and sit in a corner, we let you, subject to ASBOs, etc. If you want to suceed, we let you do that too.

      My daughters graduation had more ethnic females graduating than any other group, including white males.

    18. Chairwoman — on 3rd November, 2006 at 8:17 pm  

      We used to be manufacturing nation powered by coal. Now we are a service industry powered by imported oil.

      The apprenticeships and factory jobs of my youth no longer exist. Those who fail to scrape the university place for which so many are patently unsuited, are on the scrapheap at 16. They are bored, sullen and angry. Theirs are lives of planned obselesence, their own. Whilst they fester in front of their giant plasma screens, they rage against those who they perceive as having stolen their birthright.

      They are Thatcher’s children and grandchildren. They are what used to be the white working class.

      Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    19. ZinZin — on 3rd November, 2006 at 8:30 pm  

      Thanks for the millenarian input chairwoman i was waiting for that.

      All in all a good article and a good thread.

    20. Douglas Clark — on 3rd November, 2006 at 8:34 pm  


      I do not know where to start with your Cassandra like post.

      Lets try imported oil. We could grow most of the oil we needed if we had to.

      Lets try apprenticeships: my youngest son is in his last year as a joiner.(;

      If they want a job, rather than slacking and moaning, there are jobs out there. Oh, I didn’t realise:

      Bloody hell, they are the sons and daughters of the rich! These poor wee dears we should fear. They are the sons and daughters who sit in fromt of “giant plasma screens”

      Y’know Chairwoman, the only folk I’d really, really be afraid for is them.

    21. Douglas Clark — on 3rd November, 2006 at 8:40 pm  

      Oh sorry,

      It is the white working class that has betrayed the white working class. Damn.

    22. Clairwil — on 3rd November, 2006 at 8:45 pm  

      ‘The apprenticeships and factory jobs of my youth no longer exist.’

      Yes and pointless college course have replaced them. It’s far too expensive for small businesses to take on apprentices, it would make a lot more sense to divert funds towards apprenticeships again.

    23. Not Saussure — on 3rd November, 2006 at 9:20 pm  

      Soru (comment 5): You know, you could take that graph, turn it on it’s side, and say ‘being an Indian female means you can have 5 O levels and still have a 42% chance of being poor’.

      You could conclude that, I suppose, but only if you hadn’t read as far as the third paragraph of the accompanying article in The Economist.

      That makes it clear that it’s looking at the qualifications gained by teenagers who receive free school meals (i.e. from low income families), and not, as you seem to think, at the qualifications gained in the past by people who are now on low incomes.

    24. soru — on 3rd November, 2006 at 10:45 pm  

      That makes it clear that it’s looking at the qualifications gained by teenagers who receive free school meals (i.e. from low income families), and not, as you seem to think, at the qualifications gained in the past by people who are now on low incomes

      Culture works by family (as does genetics, if you think that’s relevant). The combination of a pro-education culture and low income is the thing that needs explanation.

    25. — on 3rd November, 2006 at 11:48 pm  

      Very interesting thread, with many good points and reasons why WWC (and others) seem to do so badly: culture, education, lack of expectations, lack of leadership or role models, opportunities, facilities, etc

      why not turn the question round and ask:

      1. what skills and attitudes do people need to be relatively successful in a modern capitalist society?

      2. and is it realistic for the mass (as opposed to a small minority) of the WWC (or others) to assume that they can take up significant roles in contemporary society?? or to acquire such skills and attitudes?

      3. what countries or societies have dealt with these similar type of problems and how did they do it? (I am thinking more of the Scandinavian countries, but would welcome suggestions)

      4. is capitalist society structured such that only a relatively small minority can achieve good quality education, a successful career and consummate high earnings?

    26. Clairwil — on 3rd November, 2006 at 11:54 pm  

      Define success. As a society I think we’ve lost sight of that. A happy cleaner is worth ten dour businessmen.

      Blinded by statistics. It is as if one is only equal to the GDP they produce. We are so much larger than commerce, more than mere social beings.

      As the years go by I feel more and more proud of my economic failure.

    27. ZinZin — on 4th November, 2006 at 12:10 am  

      “Define success.”

      Back to the meritocracy question. In a meritocracy those at the bottom will feel diminished as their low status is seen as being deserved, as a result they will be demoralised. Those at the top will feel justified in sneering at them ie Lucas and Walliams both are privately educated and have made millions doing just that.

      Meritocracy is part of the problem.

    28. Clairwil — on 4th November, 2006 at 12:17 am  

      Good point Zin Zin,
      though can it really be a meritocracy when we don’t all sprint from the same starting line?

    29. Anas — on 4th November, 2006 at 12:38 am  

      These days elections are all about marginal seats and taking the white working class for granted. Leaving them ripe for exploitation by the BNP — though this doesn’t absolve anyone who supports the BNP for whatever reason.

      Top article Sunny.

    30. Clairwil — on 4th November, 2006 at 12:43 am  

      The BNP’s best recruitment Sergeant is Labour’s tendency to treat the schemes, the workers and the ill educated as voting fodder. One day it will wreck their arses. I can’t wait.

    31. Anas — on 4th November, 2006 at 12:49 am  

      Douglas, my Mum told me of an amusing incident that happened involving a Sikh bus driver on a Glasgow bus a while ago:

      Apparently an elderly and infirm lady was struggling to get off a bus with her shopping bags. The bus driver, who happened to be a Sikh and happened to be wearing a turban, saw that the lady was having difficulties, so, rather gallantly, he got out from his cabin and very carefully helped her off the bus with her shopping bags. The lady was full of gratitude and thanks, as you would be. And as he was about to climb back on board the bus she said to him in her most grateful and sincere tone of voice “Thanks a lot, Sonny. I hope the bandage comes off your head soon.”

    32. genghis — on 4th November, 2006 at 1:34 am  

      When West Indians, for instance, came here in the 1950’s, it was to take jobs that the white population wouldn’t. And they did them, for a while. And then they moved on. More money to be made in constucting roads or whatever.

      Bollox, they found spliff and moved onto earning dole money!

    33. Clairwil — on 4th November, 2006 at 1:39 am  

      OK you have me. Are you a troll or do you mean it?

    34. Douglas Clark — on 4th November, 2006 at 3:31 am  


      Yeah, it’s an old joke, but a good one.


      When I lived in Cricklewood, a long time ago, you could tell the progress of the West Indians by the spread of Ford Corsairs with ridiculous squirrel tails on the aerials of their motors. These were not your average white trash, who didn’t have a motor at all. These were upwardly mobile folk with no taste.

    35. Roger — on 4th November, 2006 at 8:32 am  

      There used to be a difference between the working class and the underclass/lumpenproletariat/the mob- there were a variety of terms. The defining points about the working class was that they worked or were willing to work; they had internalised self-discipline and class-identity; they were ambitious for themselves, for their class and for their children in different ways.
      One effect of modern society has been to destroy the working class in most of England as a unified self-identifying force. The middle class is going too. All that is left as an identity and a claim for the social housing/benefits receiving people left is the identity as “white” and “native” and so having an entitlement beyond their “rivals” of other races to the funds provided by councils and governments.

    36. Bert Preast — on 4th November, 2006 at 10:26 am  

      Roger, I disagree that ambition was ever a defining point of the WWC, quite the opposite in fact. It’s only recently that the WWC have been told they can be astronauts if only they work hard at school, and I ascribe the discovery that that’s a load of bollocks to part of the problem today. In the old days you were allowed to be proud to be WWC, today you have to look on it as a failing.

    37. Chairwoman — on 4th November, 2006 at 10:37 am  

      Douglas - Well done to your son and his apprenticeship :-) . I know there are apprenticeships out there, my nephew recently got one with London Underground, but there was huge competition for about 30 places, and he was ‘lucky’ to be mildly autistic and qualify as one of the disabled people they are obliged to employ. Apprenticeships as such are few and far between. I remember that girls used to leave school and be apprentice hairdressers, dressmakers, even buyers in department stores. These days hairdressing is learned at college, dressmaking is a dying art, and you need a degree to be a buyer. The secretary, the staple of the non-academic middle class girl has been replaced by technology, senior secretaries, or PAs, need a degree, for goodness sake. What boys do, I haven’t a clue.

      Who betrayed the WWC?

      We all know that, and you don’t have to be a socialist to acknowledge it. It was Margaret Thatcher with her obsession to defeat the unions. Well, goddamit, she defeated them. She also defeated the country’s manufacturing base and her greatest fans simultaneously. It just took them a very long time to realise it. They have then been betrayed by successive
      governments. How they can be rescued, I do not know. With the influx of hardworking East European tradesmen (who finish the job not only on time, but sometimes early), and the indigenous population’s compliance with the status quo, only a Wat Tyler or a Jack Straw (not the cabinet minister BTW) will get them off their feet. They need an inspirational leader.

      I sincerely hope they don’t choose Nick Griffin.

    38. Anas — on 4th November, 2006 at 1:06 pm  

      Basically it’s profit over people.

    39. Not Saussure — on 4th November, 2006 at 1:49 pm  

      Soru: ‘Culture works by family (as does genetics, if you think that’s relevant). The combination of a pro-education culture and low income is the thing that needs explanation.’

      I’m sure it does, but that has little to do with these particular figures. For a start, you’d need to look at the actual educational attainments of the parents of these children and at their present circumstances.

    40. mick hall — on 4th November, 2006 at 2:08 pm  

      The article is not really talking about the section of the working class that happens to be white, but that section of the working class that crashed so harshly to the earth during the deindustrialization which was implemented by the Thatcher government in the 1980s; and which no subsequent government, whether Tory or LP has attempted to correct. These people are the economically poor; and are referred to by politicians and the media insultingly as the ‘underclass’. In truth Sunny is making an error in placing them into racial groups as those who make up this ‘underclass’ come from all ethnic backgrounds.

      Thus if the state, as it must, is to attempt to reintegrate them into the wider community, this must be done as a whole and not simply by targeted differing sections, as this would lead to even greater problems, and for obvious reasons.

      The indigenous UK white working classes have always had a problem of expectation, which sadly has also been passed on to the afro Caribbean working class population. When the UK had a massive industrial base this did not have the same consequences as we are seeing today. Whilst this lack of expectation and ambitions amongst the working classes for their off-spring resulted in blighted lives, it did not spill over into wider society for the simple reason the economy then needed brawn. Thus poorly educated youths and men could find work in the countless industries that needed fit, strong men, shipyards, coal mines and the manufacturing process, much the same was true of the female population of the working classes.

      That is all gone and even in the most basic of jobs, workers need a certain standard of education and/or social skills. Thus, as many within the so called ‘underclass’ lack these, they are doomed to a life of unemployment or a continuos battle with newcomers for the ever decreasing pool of jobs available to them.

      What we need is an education system which gives confidence to the kids who come from this class and raises their expectations about their life’s chances. The government could start by making sure that those kids who gain the A levels and who come from this type of background, and gain them against all the odds I might add, are
      fast tracked to universities like Oxford and Cambridge, instead as happens now allowing these establishments to black ball such student whilst allocating pre-saved places for pupils from schools like Eton etc.[which is scandalous andIf anyone doubts this still goes on, check out where Camerons shadow cabinet were educated.]

      This would give the next generation of kids from the ‘underclass’ role models and a living example that one can build a better life through education. Next middle class parents should contribute to the area’s they live in and stop bussing their kids across town like the wretch in Downing St, but be made to send their kids to local schools, so we cease ending up with what can only be called sink schools attended by the children of the underclass and newcomers.

      I could go on but I do not wish to outlive my welcome, but I would add the people who make up the ‘underclass’ have not been sprinkled with looney or lazy-dust whilst the slept. They are in their current predicament in the main because of decisions made by governments. Thus it is the self same governments who need to right this wrong. To attempt to do this by asbos and building ever more prisons will only lead to failure and ever more blighted lives. These people need to be shown respect and in the process helped out of their current predicament. If we go down this road, they may just start to show the rest of us and the society they live in a bit of respect.

    41. Chairwoman — on 4th November, 2006 at 2:23 pm  

      mick hall - I agree with nearly everything you say, but I feel that educating the people you are talking about is a lost cause.

      We are talking about a group of people who not only have no desire for their children to progress educationally, but are actively opposed to, and despise the concept. As a prime example, I will point out ‘Rita’s’ family in ‘Educating Rita’. They feel that they have ‘common sense’ and that ‘the toffs’ - educated people - do not. They also think that education makes people think that they are ‘better than them’. Therefore, so that they don’t lose congtact with, and control over thir families, any sign of them wanting to better themselves (reading a book is a very bad sign indeed), is mocked, sneered at, or literally
      beaten out of a child.

      I know people will think I am exagerating, but my late husband, an Englishman from Liverpool, told me many years ago, that for the majority of the WWC, school was somewhere they sent their children between 9 and 3.30 where they out of their way.

      When our daughter started school, I was shocked and horrified to discover that he was not exagerating.

    42. Kulvinder — on 4th November, 2006 at 2:28 pm  

      Poor ethnic minorities who for example
      commit crime have umpteen excuses made for them from racism to culture.

      They do?!

      Whereas the white criminal is scum motivated by greed or idiocy.

      And the cause of that greed or idiocy is? I’m not sure who uses racism and culture as an excuse to explain certain types of behaviour rather its always been used as an explanation and a means of dealing with the problem. Saying analysing the ‘culture’ of a community is tantamount to making excuses for it is a little bizzare given that its intended to do the exact opposite. Asking why a particular demographic has the problems it does does not mean surrounding that demographic with a sense of victimhood.

      Personally i think the early years of the thatcher government and her market reforms, not only in terms of breaking the unions but fundamentally reforming the way business was done (deregulating the stock exchange etc) were amongst the most progressive and farsighted policies of any PM.

    43. Roger — on 4th November, 2006 at 6:25 pm  

      “In the old days you were allowed to be proud to be WWC, today you have to look on it as a failing. ”
      Sorry, Bert, i wasn’t thinking of ambition in the “I want to be an astronaut” sense, but in the sense of “I want a more comfortable and less impoverished life for my children than i have myself.” The WWC hasn’t been betrayed. It’s been destroyed. The fact that lumpen thugs and bootboys are thought to represent it shows that. There has also been a change in the way class identity is created now. At one time the working class wanted to get hold of everything in the way of knowledge they were’t able to. Now- largely as a result of TV, I think- many of the remains of the working class define themselves by their ignorance. There is a scene in Brave New World where children are being encouraged to be glad about their preplanned class position- you can see very similar things happening today, especially in transient youth cultures.

    44. ZinZin — on 4th November, 2006 at 6:59 pm  

      Roger, Bert you both have valid points.

      The WC have always aimed for and strived for better standards of living and a better life for their children.
      Bert is correct when he says that bein W?C is seen as being a failing. The nu-snobbery is an example of this as John Harris has pointed out in the guardian.

      Chairwoman it may surprise you to discover that w/c people do use libraries.

    45. Chairwoman — on 4th November, 2006 at 7:22 pm  

      ZinZin - For books or DVDs? Sorry, I know how I’m coming across, and it’s not pretty, but I think that the working class has been deliberately engineered into being the shirking class.

      That instead of having a large group of people keeping the engine of the country running, we now have a group of malcontents with little useful to do and not enough money to live on, bubbling dangerously under. Hardly a recipe for a successful nation.

    46. ZinZin — on 4th November, 2006 at 7:50 pm  


      Are we picking up where we left off on a previous thread?

      Chairwoman your views on the W/C are not new during victorian times they were called the dangerous classes.

    47. Chairwoman — on 4th November, 2006 at 8:18 pm  

      ZinZin - These views are new to me. This has happened over the last 25 years. It’s social engineering at its worst. It suits government to have an underclass that has to be placated. Set it against an ‘enemy’. This week it’s Islam. Next week the Bulgarians? Who knows? Then blame the WWC for undesirable policy.

    48. ZinZin — on 4th November, 2006 at 8:56 pm  


      Are they dangerous? And if the answer is yes what danger do they pose.

      “It suits government to have an underclass that has to be placated.”

      No they help govts gain votes off the middle classes who consider them a threat to the nation. The W/C no longer vote in great numbers therefore their concerns can be discounted.

    49. Chairwoman — on 4th November, 2006 at 9:17 pm  

      Little dangers. Stgaggering drunk and aggressive out of pubs at closing time; muggings; swearing at old ladies; making one step off the pavement when they pass in a group; shoplifting; twocing; hoodies and fake designer clothing; badly behaved Staffies; badly dressed, foul-mouthed tattoed ladies; general low level unpleasantness. Just enough to make it feel that the fabric of society is wearing thin and that everything’s almost out of control.

      Right, their votes aren’t needed, but that doesn’t stop government acting as though they were.

    50. ZinZin — on 4th November, 2006 at 9:32 pm  


      I love it when you do a daily mail rant.

    51. El Cid — on 4th November, 2006 at 9:45 pm  

      My sentiments exactly (although I was confused a couple of times, unsure whether the stats you were using applied to specific strata of the population or all of it. In an ideal world, it would have been nice to know the criteria behind the statistical definitions. and what is “there” in the first quote?)
      Anyway, good stuff.
      Soru, are you aware that you come across as a bit of a racist? Pro-educational values and white working class are not diametrically opposed.

      This one is just for you:

      Or my old favourite (just one more time):

      Yakoub: Less bound by class tradition, South Asian… That was hilarious mate. My sides are still aching.
      However, you did make some excellent points, especially about our over-academic education system. I didn’t think this 20 years ago, even 2 years ago, but the left made a great error when it dumped grammar schools in the early 70s (just before I went to school).

    52. El Cid — on 4th November, 2006 at 10:00 pm  

      who needs enemies, eh?

    53. Chairwoman — on 4th November, 2006 at 10:07 pm  

      ZinZin - It really isn’t a Daily Mail rant. I live in a pretty middle class area and all of that goes on where I live. Just because the Daily Mail rails against it doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening.

      Do you remember Tory gerrymandering in Westminster? Well the betrayal of the working class is the other side of that coin. No education equals no job equals no future. Those that the gods wish to destroy, they first make bored.

    54. Sahil — on 5th November, 2006 at 12:32 pm  

      Chairwoman: post 32

      I’m a pretty free-market economist, and yet I completely agree with you on many of the points. Manufacturing produces ‘real’ goods, that can’t be easily ‘shifted’ to other countries, and frankly I believe that this trend has also lead to a decline of subjects like the natural sciences, which are crucial to technological developments in any mature economy (check any growth model in economics).

      Finance is fine (i work in the sector) but at the end of the day, all we do is enable people to put a new idea into the market.

      Lastly Naomi Klein’s NO Logo is becoming more relevant, Brand has taken over substance. That’s the most depressing thing about the world now. PP always talks about class, but what is branding? Nothing but class, and where one fits, no?

      As for many who oppose globalisation, well no one has any control over this animal, it’s simply too big! Just ask a Detroit worker for General Motors. Jai might get more insight into the US experience.

      I’m 24 now, and frankly I’ve got good grades, great experience, yet I’m pretty depressed. I don’t even want to imagine the circumstances of young white kids in Hull et al. Something needs to be done, but I don’t know what!

    55. Jai — on 5th November, 2006 at 1:24 pm  


      =>”Jai might get more insight into the US experience.”

      I’m sorry, I don’t understand this statement, especially as I haven’t participated on this thread. Why would I need “more insight into the US experience” ?

    56. ZinZin — on 5th November, 2006 at 1:46 pm  

      “As for many who oppose globalisation, well no one has any control over this animal, it’s simply too big!”

      Nonsense. Corporations have to abide by laws set by governments. There is no free market its a myth.

    57. Sahil — on 5th November, 2006 at 8:43 pm  


      “I’m sorry, I don’t understand this statement, especially as I haven’t participated on this thread. Why would I need “more insight into the US experience” ? ”

      I meant that you’d might be able to add more about the US experience Vis-a-Vie the same circumstances e.g Detroit and the White working classes being hit by globalisation and how the republican admin has handled it for them. Sorry for the confusion.

    58. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2006 at 8:49 pm  

      Excellent article Hundal. And a very important debate.

    59. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2006 at 8:54 pm  

      Hence, the third group to fail the white working-classes are the new generation of anti-racist campaigners who continue to paint minorities as victims rather than making their fight about the betterment of British society in general.

      Yes indeed. A+ for this Hundal.

    60. Nick — on 5th November, 2006 at 11:24 pm  

      Personally I think it’s a class thing - the white media and political classes despise and fear “their” working classes who they have spent so many centuries oppressing so marginalise and fracture their culture through the likes of housing policy whenever they get the chance - all the better to keep them in their place eh?

      They assuage their guilt by favouring non-whites, the unwitting pawns in the class war, who make for better cooks and - in the beginning at least - were less stroppy. Nothing lasts though, does it…

    61. Abhi — on 6th November, 2006 at 12:33 pm  

      Chavs as a cultural force and identity has just grown bug time since 2000!

      Tony Blair u have a lot to answer for!

    62. Bert Preast — on 6th November, 2006 at 12:40 pm  

      It seems to me the class system is still very much alive. The only difference these days is easier mobility between classes.

      Perhaps some of the problems do stem from within the WWC though, in that those trying to better themselves are often looked on by their peers as selling out - so then if they make it into the middle class they are hardly full of love and sympathy for those they left behind.

    63. sonia — on 6th November, 2006 at 1:34 pm  

      there’s never any ‘one’ person/ thing to blame.

      a lot of people would and do say - why did lots of people choose to not go to university when it was free? there is the matter of affordability ( how do you fund your living expenses even if there isn’t any tuition) of course. however ingrained social ideas play a part too - e.g. hostility to the idea of university education - has played its part.

      but there are always a complex host of reasons.

      whilst regen is definitely problematic - sure it always is - but it’s hardly just ‘failed’ - making statements like that isn’t useful at all (and usually is made by people who aren’t involved in any way shape or form.) : especially since shed loads of people clearly have no idea of the work that actually gets done on the ground. yeah there are always problems in measuring things quantitatively and not capturing the qualitative aspects of beneficial change that definitely does happen. outputs - yes - the bane of much of our existence.

      in any case i agree that there is a problem that race and religion has dominated so much of the discourse - and i think this goes both ways. ‘both sides’ have contributed to the situation - stirred up of course by lots of people in the middle who ought to have known better.

    64. Nick — on 6th November, 2006 at 1:43 pm  

      Sonia - “a lot of people would and do say - why did lots of people choose to not go to university when it was free?”

      Well a lot of middle class people would. As a (former) WWC person myself, never mind ability, I can tell you at 18 years old THE THOUGHT NEVER EVEN OCCURRED TO ME. Or my parents. Hard to conceptualise I know but there it is. That’s the reality of class.

      I actually did go, but then only - literally - by accident.

    65. sonia — on 6th November, 2006 at 1:53 pm  

      yeah nick im aware of that.

    66. Anas — on 6th November, 2006 at 2:24 pm  

      RE: Post #61

      It’s divide and conquer all over again.

    67. sonia — on 6th November, 2006 at 2:41 pm  

      63 - bert/pert = you’ve got a good point in the ‘selling out’. often people who are aware of being able to go to university reject it as something the ‘other’ group does, not them - and if you do go, those around you may not be v. kind and be like ..oh you’re trying to be like one of them.

      similar to you know — the whole ‘coconut’ thing - asians referring to their better-integrated friends as ‘coconuts’ :-)

    68. sonia — on 6th November, 2006 at 2:42 pm  

      anyway a lot of working class people don’t want people to feel ‘sorry’ for them or be all patronizing, thanks very much.

    69. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 6th November, 2006 at 2:50 pm  

      Quoting from a decent news source, well I never!


    70. Sunny — on 6th November, 2006 at 2:58 pm  

      I love the Economist. Heh.

    71. bananabrain — on 6th November, 2006 at 3:48 pm  

      i don’t know where to post this, but i was in barcelona last week and on saturday as i was walking back from synagogue i ran into a huge, noisy group of orange-turbanned beards handing out apples and bananas to passers-by and scattering rose petals everywhere. i gather it was guru nanak’s birthday, zichrono livracha (that means “may his memory be for a blessing”) it was great, there was incredibly noisy drumming and these little kids juggling with gigantic kirpans. you wouldn’t see that in the UK i’d hazard, not with the health and safety mafia spoiling everyone’s party. it was a wonderful thing to see - not a placard in sight (or a lot of women, actually, come to think of it) and everyone from amrit-dharis to hangers-on just dancing in the street. perhaps this is where the UK muslim community is going wrong; too much whinging and hellfire and not enough free fruit.



    72. Sid — on 6th November, 2006 at 4:02 pm  

      The cool thing about amrit-dharis is that if you mess with them they won’t think twice about sticking that tree-fruit so far up your back orifice, you’ll be able tell if its in season or not. Good for you, fibre. ;-)

    73. bananabrain — on 6th November, 2006 at 4:04 pm  

      look at the name, sid - it’s bananabrain not bananabum.



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