Friday, 14 January 2011

Some of Us Are All in This Together

On the radio a couple of days ago, I listened to some wonderful reverse snobbery. Apparently the "we are all in this together" slogan of the Conservatives is misplaced. That is, apparently, because the Tories are all fabulously rich beyond our wildest dreams, and they burn the poor for fuel on their open log fires in their enormous castles, they can't really say it. Because they're not 'in it' with us. They're not poor, so have no right whatsoever to talk about what the poor might be experiencing in these straightened times. So because David Cameron has unlikely filled up his own car on a forecourt recently he cannot talk about the pain of rising fuel prices.

Unsurprisingly, this leftist dictum came from a BBC radio station, the neutral press we fund and love.

Bizarrely, it is absolutely fine for the man on the street to have his say on how we should be taxing millionaire bankers. No-one raises an eyebrow at that. Why? Because in modern Britain it is ok to slag off from below. If you're poorer / lower class / a minority of some sort you are allowed to have a pop at anyone who is richer / higher class / a majority. Now that's society in general, and it's true.

Radical Islam can say all it wants negatively about Christianity, but my, oh my must Christians in a Christian country be careful what is said in reply. It's fine to bash someone for attending Eton or Oxbridge, but could you imagine how it would play for an old Etonian to criticise someone for their poor schooling? Or alternatively it is positively accepted that one can criticise the aristocracy for their airs and graces and pampered lifestyles that they enjoy because of the chance of their birth into such a family. Now think of the public uproar to a member of the landed gentry criticising the lowly birth of someone born into a sink estate. Reverse snobbery is a dangerous thing, and never more so than in Government. It leads to the politics of class envy, about which I have said a little before (here and here).

The idea of Government in a democracy is instead of 65 million people all voting on everything (you'd need a bigger House of Parliament for one, and probably a bigger Speaker of said House - you simply wouldn't see him), they all get to vote in representatives. It is that last word that is being mis-represented here. The politicians sent to Parliament are there to represent the views of the constituency that voted for them. That is, firstly by their political colouring their views will broadly represent the views of the majority of people in that area, and secondly they will then represent their constituents in Parliament, by which I mean speak up for them.

Now only a fool would think everyone in a constituency is the same. Therefore one man or woman cannot actually be all things to all men. He (for ease) cannot be rich and poor, black and white, a banker and builder. The essence of democracy though is she (for balance) will do all they (grammatical compromise) can for all of those people that they represent. To suggest that a politician cannot represent the views of someone to whom they are not identical (i.e. physically represent) is farcical. If you genuinely believe that, you have an issue with the deepest concepts of democracy and of the British political system.

So, let us have no more of this idiocy. Would it be wrong for a Labour MP who came from a council estate, worked his way up say a transport union before standing for Parliament to sit on a committee deciding on bankers' bonuses? Would it be wrong for him to say how these people, with whom he shares perhaps little and has little experience, should live? Of course not, because he is an elected representative of the nation.

Government is not about having one person in government to represent each type of person in the country - you simply couldn't do it. It's about picking the people who will do the best for everyone, irrespective of their means, background, race, religion, sex, the lot. Therefore the Tories have every right to talk about all being in this together, rich or not. You wouldn't accept Labour politicians being criticised for speaking about private schools when they went to state schools. That said, it wouldn't just be because it would be politically incorrect, but because these days it wouldn't be correct at all, independently-schooled and Oxbridge-educated as most of them are now. Goes to show education isn't that much of an advantage in life - just look where you might end up…

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