19_february_2016A letter a day to number 10. No 1,347

Friday 19 February 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I wonder if you have ever heard of the expression ‘noblesse oblige’? The Merriam Webster online dictionary provides a simple definition – ‘the idea that people who have high social rank or wealth should be helpful and generous to people of lower rank or to people who are poor’. However, it means a great deal more than that, it entails an obligation for those of high rank to behave with honour, compassion, generosity and high moral standards. Put very simply it could also mean, to lead by example.

I also wonder, other than as a self aggrandising myth, whether it has ever existed at any time throughout history?

From the biblical massacre of the innocents by Herod to the 1381 betrayal of the peasants revolt, feudalism, the French revolution, Britain’s work houses, the Norman invasion and the carve up of Britain, and, of course, the Tories, in no particular order, the aristocracy and the wealthy really have a dismal history, as do the poor at their expense.

I can find no citation for the following from Tony Benn, yet it is as poignantly apt now as at any time in history, “I don’t think people realise how the establishment became established. They simply stole land and property from the poor, surrounded themselves with weak minded sycophants for protection, gave themselves titles and have been wielding power ever since.” Certainly, in my own life, I had worked it out long before reading it and if Benn didn’t write it he will definitely have thought it.

I have been studiously ignoring the latest feudal throwback project, ‘Clean up for the Queen’ for her Maj’s 90th birthday, but ignoring it is simply not good enough. I know not who dreamt up this latest fun project for peasants to clean up Britain’s streets, but wherever it came from, it was either someone, somewhere, in the gilded halls of patronising nobility or some simpering sycophant who should have been shot at birth.

Whatever next? Will this become an annual event, ‘National Workfare Day’ or some such nonsense dictated from on high for the masses to obediently deliver, with dim witted celebrities extolling its virtues? Meanwhile there are many things in this country that are in urgent need of cleaning up, not least on the streets. I wonder what the plan is should any inconvenient homeless people be littering the streets in hopeless destitution? I am sure Prince Philip would have an answer involving a twelve bore shotgun and hunting dogs. I cannot be alone in wishing the nobility would just hole up their castles without expecting bunting, sycophantic adoration and blind obedience to their every whim and fancy and, yes, that very much includes you Tories. That would clean up Britain quite nicely.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/noblesse%20oblige

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_the_Innocents

http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/Wat-Tyler-the-Peasants-Revolt/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/1917452.stm

http://www.cleanforthequeen.co.uk/over-70-mps-attend-parliamentary-launch-of-clean-for-the-queen/2631/2/15/2361/159

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2016/01/clean-for-the-queen-campaign-prompts-british-twitters-wonderful-snark

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