I’ve occasionally wondered if John Harris is in fact Johann Hari in a strawberry blonde wig – the two names are virtually identical. Now, it seems, he has taken to quoting from his own articles – Johann wrote an almost identical piece, albeit with more brevity, a few months ago.
All this tut-tutting though, to me, misses two important aspects. Firstly, regarding “chav” parties. I’m not sure this says much more about society other than the vacuity of the upper classes. Just as the working class lad visiting Oxford was surprised to learn about such parties, I was surprised to learn that one of the people I went to school with had been to an “Alice in Wonderland” party in his first term at Oxford, something which he clearly thought was the most wonderful wheeze ever.
The second point is rather more important though. This is as much a phenomenon of working class self-loathing and insecurity as anything else. They watch Little Britain in their millions. And while Jon Cruddas might bemoan how Labour now demonises the working class, he must surely be aware that such policies are wildly popular on the average housing estate. Indeed, I would argue that one of Labour’s biggest mistakes has been to indulge such prejudices – abstract policies such as the “Respect Agenda” look tough, but achieve nothing of substance and merely heighten fear. I dread to think what sort of draconian measures will have to be conjured up in order to meet the public’s endless thirst for “tough on crime” if trends continue.
Any politician who publicly attacks such measures is dismissed as being out of touch with working class people; indeed this is the contention of both Harris and Cruddas about the Lib Dems. It’s terribly easy to blame everything on “public schoolboys” like Blair and Cameron, but it really does let the “working class” off the hook. Isn’t portraying them as helpless victims just as negative a stereotype as Vicky Pollard?