Sunday, 23 January 2011

Hons & Rebels

"Young Tories and non rich Tories are the most difficult to understand"said Josie Long on Twitter.

I know what she meant. If you are young, you still have fire in your belly, you haven't been ground down by paying the rent for years, you are interested in more than your take-home pay, your headspace is not taken up by the everyday grind, you still have some principles and a natural sense of justice. You still might give a shit, in other words. (and these days, if you are young, you are demonized beyond belief, which would naturally make you identify with the underdog.)

And if you're non-rich (working class?) why would you get behind a system that clearly despises you and is weighted against you?

But... that's not the way working class Tories see it. I know, having grown up with one. Non-rich wc people don't see or acknowledge the welfare state as having supported them. They have pride and believe that graft is all that is needed to make it. Anyone can just knuckle down, stop moaning, stop expecting handouts, and anyone can be successful. And graft should be rewarded. They might be conservative with a small c and despise the other principles that go along with socialism besides. For example, the left wing vs right wing stance on immigration.

It is summed up for me in Jessica Mitford's Hons and Rebels, she remembers a childhood conversation when someone tries to explain the difference between left wing and right wing to her. I paraphrase, as I don't have it here.

"Left wing people want everyone to be poor. But we want everyone to be rich."

Because she was a child, she was stumped by this argument and didn't come to see its flaw till she was older. (She made up for it later by joining the Communist Party and went on to be investigated by the House Committee UnAmerican Activities)

I think a lot of people get stuck at this argument. They don't really look at how society, or the economy, works. They point to the Alan Sugars as though the exception proved some rule. Or else they really don't give a flying fuck about anyone else, as long as they're alright (which is my analysis of capitalism, in a nutshell. As long as money is being made, all is well.)

Why might young people be Tory though? Maybe they are privileged already and don't feel the need to dig too deep. Maybe because there's less guilt and anxiety involved in being right wing - the status quo is being defended, which is always less uncomfortable. You're protecting what's already yours, instead of fighting for some vague utopia. Easy. I think right-wing politics is simple at heart, and left-wing may be more complex. Not to say that Tories are more stupid, but just maybe that they don't feel the need to think too hard about things.


  1. It used to be said, "If you're not a Socialist before you're forty, you've no heart. If you're still a Socialist after you're forty, you've no head." That was the saying, I'm not remarking on it.

  2. Hey Z - I've got a year to go before I be officially wooly-headed.

  3. I think you're spot on about young Tories. I knew a fair few at college. One became an MP in the last election and will probably be a minister of a sort in no time because he superficially ticks a very useful box for the party. He's never lived in what might be called "the real world" of course.

  4. I find myself getting more liberal as I get older. My dad was a staunch Tory (despite spending his life completely broke and getting royally fucked by the Thatcher government) and obviously that rubbed off on me when I was younger.

    But as I head into my late thirties, I increasingly find myself thinking about stuff like: almost everything a person can own must at some point have been stolen from society; how come we're one of the biggest economies in the world but children still live in poverty here; why do local authorities focus on making their towns 'competitive' rather than 'good places to live'.

    I'm going to start writing letters. That'll change things.

  5. Also: wtf? You're approving comments now? Fascist.

  6. B, yup. My old flatmate went to Oxford (or Cambridge, I forget which) and loads of her friends came out of college and became Special Advisors immediately. You wonder how they can advise on anything aged 22 when they've only ever experienced public school and a very exclusive, rich university. Then you realise that's pretty much the point of government.

    LC, good points, well made. There's something sad in working class people being loyal towards the Tories when they are the ones who were the most fucked over. My dad is working class made good so it's harder to convince him that the 'everyone can be rich if only they work hard' story doesn't hold water. Even he's starting to lose the faith these days though.

    I know *hangs head* I was scared that Josie Long's psycho Twitter Tory haters would follow me back here.

  7. Oh, and this, also from Twitter,18914/

  8. Non rich can mean very well off. There are a hell of a lot of very well off people in this country who are natural Tory voters. They are selfish, wanting to keep as much money for themselves and their families. Kids are chips off the old blocks. I doubt you'd get many people on benefits voting Tory.

  9. True, Geoff. Went to a very depressing NUT meeting yesterday (looks like there's going to be some strikes coming up again.) You wonder how those well off people are going to feel when they finally realise it's not just housing benefits and welfare that's being cut, it's schools, hospitals... all the services they use and need too...

  10. Jeremy Hardy: "I'll never understand working-class Tories, because I'm a middle-class Socialist."

  11. I love him. He also said
    'The only way you can ever accuse a Conservative of hypocrisy is if they walk past a homeless person without kicking him in the face.'