Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Sun’s super-patriotic front page – and Labour’s betrayal of aspirational working class voters

For those of you who may for some odd reason have missed today’s Sun, their front page consists of a montage of things we should be proud of about this nation, under the banner headline “This Is Our Britain”. The New Statesman has done a vaguely amusing version of how other newspapers might have treated the same theme (here) and, in the Telegraph, Tim Stanley has suggested that we should all be more reticent (here) because all this trumpeting of British fabulousness is all rather unBritish.

It’s easy to mock paroxysms of nationalistic fervour such as this – especially given that The Sun is owned by an Aussie with American citizenship who loathes the Royal Family and most of the other institutions which make Britain uniquely British. But I think Tim Stanley is missing the point of the exercise, because he isn’t a member of the target audience – namely the aspirational private-sector working class which on three occasions voted Mrs.Thatcher into power. I’m assuming this group still comprises the bulk of the Sun’s readership.

Tony Blair might have successfully lured back the private sector working classes who defected to the Tories at the end of the 1970s, but New Labour then proceeded to betray them in myriad ways: by letting immigration rip, thereby making “social” housing hard to come by, squeezing locals out of the jobs market, and leaving many white kids in a minority in their local schools; by turning multiculturalism and political correctness – both of which are Kryptonite to traditional working class attitudes and ways of life - into the twin deities of a state religion; by destroying the education system with a lot of “prizes for all” silliness, making the prospect of middle class jobs even more remote; by further eroding Britain’s manufacturing base, thereby shrinking the amount of available non-government work; by failing to get a grip on the sort of crime – violence, burglary, drug-dealing – which affects poorer people disproportionately; by making it easier to drink, gamble and borrow money; by worsening the service provided by the NHS, on which the working classes wholly depend for health-care; by doing everything in their power to swell the public sector at the expense of the private sector, on which the aspirational working classes depend for advancement; by taking ever-increasing amounts of money away from those in work and using it to create a vast army of useless people entirely dependent on hand-outs; by masking benefits so generous that many people found that taking a job meant they actually had less to live on; by encouraging the break-up of stable families by punishing marriage through the tax and benefits system; by placing ever-increasing power in the hands of a highly educated, middle-class, liberal European elite actively conniving to destroy this country’s identity; and, of course, by allowing greedy bankers to bring the whole rickety house of cards tumbling down, leaving panic, chaos and fear in their foul-smelling wake.

Let’s face it, the private sector working classes have been shafted on every single level imaginable – and they didn’t even get a decent England football team in return. So they – even more than the rest of us – need something to cheer about, something to be proud of, and given the determined assault on a shared sense of British identity so vigorously conducted throughout 13 years of Labour misrule, I reckon we might manage – just this once – to cut The Sun and its readership a bit of slack.

Mind you, as with Danny Boyle’s socialist Olympics opening ceremony, I’d love to scrap the Sun’s list of things to be proud of and start from scratch.

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