UK Politics

Brave New World?

George Walden (stick with me, we may have a decent discussion about 30 comments in, after the ad hominems have been exhausted) puts forward his thesis on what’s wrong with today’s politicians in The Guardian.

Britain is governed by an oligarchy of professional egalitarians, many of them from privileged backgrounds, whose power and wealth increasingly depend on the more or less cynical exploitation of populism in politics, the media and the arts.

For the first time in our history, both major political parties are now led by what are inverted elites: well-born, privately educated men who vie with one another in affecting populist attitudes

George has a book on said elites to sell of course, and his NS review of Schopenhauer’s “The Art of Always Being Right” might just throw some light on where he is coming from for our more patient readers, although some of his supporting evidence can only be described as rather weak:
Apparently Blair chose three classical recordings on “Desert Island discs” whilst Cameron had three pop records amongst his favourites. Quite what this proves when one can imagine a seventeenth century Sue Lawley sniffing about “populist dramatists” such as Shakespeare being featured at the expense of “proper poets” such as Sidney, is anyone’s guess, but onwards, George has another analogy to make:

Cameron is, to some extent, the political expression of the Princess Diana phenomenon.

What? The leader of the Conservative party is shagging Mohamed Al –Fayed’s son? OK I’m being silly. Ah, but here is a serious point; the kind of thing in fact, that I might just say myself:

Our increasingly populist media – which, like Cameron, insists that class is a thing of the past – is itself increasingly run by journalists whose backgrounds can be traced to the middle or upper-middle classes and to independent schools. The facts are there, in a recent study by the Sutton Trust, showing that more than half of the most senior journalists in the land came from independent schools,

Quite true, and all our recent praise for the BBC and Guardian etc should be qualified in the light of those cold hard figures. The best however, is yet to come. Walden also has something to say about (cry havoc and release the dogs of war) immigration!

Five years ago, immigration was not yet the vastly important subject it has since become. From every point of view, the new elites have reason to welcome what has happened. Whatever its consequences for the country, for them, mass immigration is an unqualified boon. It is not just the low wages and household help that benefit well-to-do people such as themselves. Here are millions of new clients for their condescension, in the true meaning of the term: lowering yourself to the level of people you see as inferior, the better to ingratiate yourself with them. The purpose is to sell them your populist politics or dud culture, while burnishing your humanitarian image. We must look forward to the time when able and independent-minded immigrants at all levels of society react against the patronage of the new elites who, morally, culturally and intellectually, are so frequently beneath them.

I’m not going to get into arguments about whether immigration is a good or bad thing. Personally I am unable to imagine a country without successive waves of people arriving and struggling to settle in – though I can imagine a much, much poorer country where all the West Indian, Asian and Eastern Europeans that I have known over the years did not come to South London. At the same time it is hard to suppress laughter when the very heights of the establishment find themselves embroiled in a situation such as this one

No. It is that last line of Walden’s that interests me. Do you detect a hint of threat (or alternatively – desperation) in:

We must look forward to the time when able and independent-minded immigrants at all levels of society react against the patronage of the new elites who, morally, culturally and intellectually, are so frequently beneath them.

As somebody who would dearly like to see Britain become a much fairer society where, for instance, most of our journalists are not educated at independent schools, do you think I should be looking forward along with George to this new Britain?

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