Archives for posts with tag: working class


You may recall George Osborne cynically using the brutal and vicious murder of six children by Mick Philpott to monster benefits recipients and the welfare state. This is what he had to say, “Philpott is responsible for these absolutely horrendous crimes and these are crimes that have shocked the nation. The courts are responsible for sentencing, but I think there is a question for government and for society about the welfare state and the taxpayers who pay for the welfare state, subsidising lifestyles like that. I think that debate needs to be had.”

This Tory tactic has been used repeatedly to denigrate not just people on benefits but the entire working class. That’s what poverty porn was all about. And let’s be very clear about this, by working class they mean, very specifically, white working class, white trash, Chavs, the something for nothing, culture of entitlement, vile white working class. Find the lowest of the low and present that as the one size fits all image of the working class in Britain, you know, the white working class in social housing ‘sleeping off a life on benefits’ (Osborne again, in a budget speech no less). It is racism that dare not speak its name.

And what happened to social housing, The post war homes fit for heroes? Thatcher is what happened and her home owning democracy and now social housing is restricted to the most desperate who are ripe for demonising and monstering, thus the term ‘sink estates’ came into being (council housing estates characterised by high levels of economic and social deprivation). That provides the image of all working class people, put forth by politicians and the media, the free loading working class, useless eaters and a burden on the welfare state, spending all their money on drink and drugs and neglecting their children, that is, if they are not actually murdering them.

To be working class is to be feral, dirt poor, unintelligent and uneducated, a living affront to all right minded and right thinking people.

What absolute, complete and utter, bollocks!

I quoted Margaret Thatcher in an earlier piece, but here it is again, “I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it. ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”

Who was that aimed at if not the working class? And very specifically the minimum wage, zero hours contract, low pay, no pay, down beaten, exploited, used and abused, for profit, working class. Not all the working class, because we’re a very broad social class, but those at the cutting edge of subsistence survival. The people working their hearts out for bullshit pay, thanklessly exploited and brutally attacked for the sin of being poor.

Are companies entitled to make their profits without obligation to those who make them? Oh yes. Nothing to see there. It took government legislation to establish even a minimum wage, which is less than an amount that people can actually survive and live on, and that became the industry standard for far too many businesses, including companies like Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons, whilst raking in the profits.

And let’s not forget the miners (Thatchers enemy within) and their pensions which have been serially robbed by successive governments. Generations of miners who’ve dug the black gold that kept Britain running, dying of the black lung and other mining related issues that crucified their health. No entitlement without obligation? Oh I think working class people have met their obligations endlessly, day in, day out, year in year out, generation after generation, and still do.

Thatcher destroyed industry and now the majority of working class people are employed in service industries and it is the government that has destroyed workers rights, paving the way for bullshit jobs, on bullshit hours for bullshit pay.

The working class have carried the responsibility for keeping Britain running since the industrial revolution. How long would London survive without the cleaning staff who are increasingly being socially excluded, socially cleansed, from living in the capital?

Britain is still nation built on class and I am working class and proud of it. I was raised working class, it’s written in my bones. Sure I was the first person in my family to go to university, a place I gained as a mature student based on years of work and experience as a youth worker and outdoor pursuits instructor. Does that make me middle class now? Does it hell. University taught me to critically think, it reinstalled my thirst for knowledge that school ‘taught’ out of me. It encouraged and taught me to write. Who knew that working class people can do such things? But we can and do, against all that is stacked against us.

Ours is a proud rich history and the class war isn’t nearly done, a war not of our making, but it is we who have had the temerity to challenge it, to demand social justice and it is as important today as it has ever been against a government determined to starve us out of existence and deny hundreds of thousands even the means of survival in their appalling ingratitude and contempt for our lives.



It’s a steel grey Monday morning, not so much light coming in to my living room as creeping in and stealing all the colour. There is really only one word to describe it – melancholy – and it is infectious. I’ve woken late, for me, and I have two things on my mind, you and writing, you are #1 and that too involves writing, but that’s the more important, as that involves connection. But I also have something on my mind that is #2, writing about ‘working class’.

The feeling of melancholy is strong. You know how I feel about writing, it’s bubbling away inside, the liberation of writing, which excites me, but I can’t properly connect with it as the leaching greyness is all around me. My little flower (a gift from Eileen) agrees with me, its movement is muted. It has two functions, it is a gift from you and that gives me pleasure at all times and it responds to light. I am not sure if it doesn’t ‘feel’ desperate today. But I think it’s an optimist, to thoroughly anthropomorphise it. It is waving stoically away on my window sill, making the most of it… and, of course, it’s magnificently pink.

I’ve been thinking about writing about ‘working class’, for a couple of days now and my mind is a card index of thoughts and ideas that will emerge when I get to writing and, I hope, fall coherently on the page. But that’s not going to happen until I have written to you, maybe I need to welcome you into my day and week.

I have just taken my first sip of coffee and the taste is divine and that reminds me how impossible it is to describe taste or the taste explosion that just occurred. Coffee will forever remind me of you and Del (my therapist for several years). Del introduced me to coffee. Real coffee, coffee bean coffee. I have always loathed instant coffee, it’s a cheat, a fake and it tastes like shit. Real coffee became a ritual of therapy, in Del’s kitchen, where we’d say our hi’s and connect as two people. My eyes are prickling with tears at the thought of her and how much I miss her. She is gone now, gone to the great vivisector, stolen from life.

Some people believe in reincarnation, that we keep coming back and evolving. But that does nothing for the loss and I think it’s just bullshit really, pampering ones own ego. And I think of reincarnation as a middle class thing, which may well be prejudice on my part, the pampered class, the self indulgent class, the buffered class, the I’m all right Jack class.

John Prescott, a man of humble working class beginnings, the son of a railway worker, and Tony Blair, both said, “We’re all middle class now” and Margaret Thatcher said, “Class is a communist concept”. And I say, “Fuck off!” Is that what pampering does to you? Is that the real problem of Westminster Palace? Is that what brings politicians down, working in that pampered place? The real life struggles of ordinary people, brushed away as an irritating and unwelcome itch where we can be dismissed as selfish victims of our own unworth?

Oddly, Del was middle class, but she wasn’t like that. She had a towering social consciousness and awareness and extraordinary kindness. A star bright soul who suffered the absolute loss of her own identity three times in her life (that I know of). She lived in one of London’s enclaves for the ‘well to do’ in what I can only describe as a modest mansion, a large detached residence, her husband a senior lecturer at the London Bible College, a bastion of middle class religious vocation and aspiration. Del was a square peg in a round hole. A beautiful rebel in her own unique way. I got the impression that her husband did not approve and was distant and aloof. He patronisingly indulged her but did not connect. He wrote a book, the title was something like, ‘I’ve lost my wife’, in response to one of Del’s losses of herself, not even knowing her own name. I never met him, but always wanted to say to him, “It’s not all about you pal.”

And isn’t that the problem, of capitalism and me, me, me? Isn’t that what Thatcher was sold out to when she said, ‘There is no such thing as society’?

Here are her, oh so clever words, “I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it. ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.” She dared say that to working class people?

Oh that’s so clever. It is so well scripted and it’s just awful, twisted words, deceitful and ugly.

Maybe we should all become brick layers, house builders, but that isn’t even half the problem. First we need land and that’s the real cost. Over a million pounds an acre as long as it’s got planning permission with it. “I’ll take two.”

The reality is that we, the people, can’t do anything without government and they make damned sure of it. Tying us up in knots.

We can go to Denny’s (an American chain of eateries) and Little Chef, that’s the level of our human rights… I’ve not been to Denny’s but suspect I’d feel right at home there, as I do in a Little Chef. Places I can be, relax, eat, with no aspirations for a better class of eatery. I would frequent a greasy spoon if I could, but they have died away… Transport cafes, the once proud eateries of choice on the arteries of the nation for working class people for which Little Chef is a pale reminder, but with everything boxed off, the food less joyously free, arranged on the plate, where there was something seductively pleasurable about a laden plate of cardiac arresting cholesterol in the days of yore.

Clearly, I know my place and it’s a perfectly good place.

KOG. 20 February 2017


A letter a day to number 10. No 1,499

Friday 22 July 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

In your first speech as prime minister you said, ” If you’re a white, working-class boy, you’re less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university.”

On Tuesday the Higher Education and Research Bill passed its second reading. Included in this bill is the ability for ‘universities to raise tuition fees in line with inflation’ if they ‘can demonstrate good teaching through the new teaching excellence framework’.

I guess we’re so used to market forces as god that it is easy to miss the point that education should not be market led nor rewarded on a market basis and worst of all that education as a consumer product is utterly misguided and wrong. It means a tiered education system with the bottom line being the ability to pay and in such a system inequality will reign supreme.

As a working class ‘boy’ I was the first in my family to obtain a university education, but that was back in the day when there were such things as student grants. What is particularly relevant, as a working class ‘boy’, is that I simply would not have considered university at all had I been rewarded with a mountain of debt, but had I done so what is certain is that I would have opted for the least financially punishing option.

I’m not sure how you hope to attract working class people into the university system, it is looking far from attractive from where I sit. Debt based education is hardly the road to aspiration where, perhaps, thoughts of home ownership might figure at some point in a housing market that is entirely out of control. I wonder in what way you think that a life time of servicing debt in the kind of neoliberal unrestrained market world we live in is a smart or educated idea?

Banks and interest rates are merely a siphon of wealth upwards. Usury is an outdated, outrageous, practice by banks making obscene profits from people’s lives and aspirations. At the very least, if you want to make a difference, then end usury and make financial loans fee based at the very least and protect education from the money sharks and ensure student debt is not subject to interest or fees. What price education, eh?



A letter a day to number 10. No 1,494

Friday 15 July 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

Your cabinet… It’s almost too unbearably funny in a totally mad way. A line up of millionaires all for little ol’ working class us. How sweet.

Cuddly Mr Hammond, dappy Lizzie for justice, Amber the banker vulture capitalist, nuke ’em Fallon, Foxy for international trade and arms deals. Priceless. We’re stuck with Hunt I see, still Britain’s most infamous typographical error. But the icing on the cake really is BoJo the friend of ‘piccaninnies’ with ‘watermelon smiles’ Johnson as foreign secretary. Genius, just genius. He’s sure to make Brexit a laugh a minute, that’s if he doesn’t manage to single handedly kick off WWIII.

I note you’ve dismissed holding a general election given the majority gained a year ago. Is that despite the ongoing investigations into Tory election fraud or are you just hoping to bury that for good?

I don’t want to give you too much of a hard time before you get your feet firmly under the table at number 10, but let’s be honest, there’s no such thing as a cuddly Tory, so whatever you’ve promised prior to your coronation must be taken with a pinch of salt. Let’s not forget that David Cameron pledged to cut the deficit and not the NHS and our NHS now in ribbons and the man responsible for cutting it to ribbons has been kept on as health secretary under your leadership. I’m not sure whether to call it cynicism or realism, but declaring yourself a friend of the working class requires a stretch in credulity which unfortunately I am unable to manage.

The Parliamentary Labour Party are now facing the same problem, they want to pretend they are the real Labour deal, despite doing everything to stab the democratically elected leader of the party in the back repeatedly. They are accused of being Tory lite, but even the betrayal of Margaret Thatcher pales into insignificance compared with what Jeremy Corbyn has been forced to endure. I’m sure you’ve followed it avidly as they might just as well have rolled out the red carpet for you. But I do appreciate the problem he represents, honest politics is so Aneurin Bevan, Dennis Skinner and Tony Benn. Their appeal is horribly working class.

Who’d want to be working class anyway? We’re all knuckle dragging, bigoted, racists. It’s almost worse than being disabled and taking up wheel chair space. Yeesh…



A letter a day to number 10. No 1,493

Thursday 14 July 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

I am most interested that the target demographic for your reign as prime minister is: “If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise. You have a job but you don’t always have job security. You have your own home but you worry about paying the mortgage. You can just about manage, but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school. If you’re one of those families, if you’re just managing, I want to address you directly.”

If that is your datum point, you are aiming high, there are many millions below that who are traditionally ignored, voiceless and, indeed, have been the target of social cleansing under David Cameron’s leadership from 2010. Oxfam finds that ’13 million people in the UK do not have enough to live on, and most do not have the power to speak out about what this feels like and why it is wrong’.

You said that your party is called the Conservative and Unionist Party, I would remind you that a union, like a chain, is only as strong as its weakest link.

It is to Britain’s shame that we now have food banks the length and breadth of Britain, that further education is subject to a life time of debt, that many women are facing years of hardship having been denied a pension or any interim help for which they have spent a lifetime working, that the provision of universal health care is no longer a duty of the state, that those in the most need face a sanctions regime that deprives them of the means of survival, that sick and disabled people have been cast aside through brutal cuts.

If your focus is not on building a nation from the bottom up, of supporting the most vulnerable, living the most precarious existence, of giving the voiceless a voice, then we are no further forward and those without hope are facing the same future that David Cameron, George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith have cast them into. In this time of political upheaval we need change, drastic change, and I am not at all sure you are offering anything like what is needed for Britain as a whole.


13_december_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,284

Sunday 13 December 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I have to say that the move in Britain from a putative liberal democracy to a dictatorship has been impressive. I grant you that, and the money and interests that you serve. After all what does a dictatorship look like? It looks just like us but we imagine it would look very different, visibly oppressive, long shopping queues, oppressed peasants and all the visual images we have been subjected to of oppressed societies under oppressive regimes.

But such images belie the reality of people living just as usual, no matter where they are. People still have to shop, eat, live. They watch television and ‘the news’. People still go to work, life in general looks ‘normal’ and people react and live in ‘normal’ ways. What they can’t see, don’t see, refuse to see, is that in a dictatorship we all become progressively less free, starting at the bottom but moving slowly, but progressively, upwards. Just like Britain right now.

The shrinking of the welfare state, bringing in forced labour for people seeking jobs and forcing people into onerous Claimant Commitment Contracts and the routine use of sanctions denying people the means of survival. Punishing people with the hideous bedroom tax instead of building houses. Attacking disabled people and denying them support and care, ending the Independent Living Fund. Creating a crisis in the NHS and forcing top down reorganisation (attacking junior doctors for work they already do) that increases health insecurity and creeping privatisation. Attacking the unions and the rights to strike and to peacefully protest. Attacking our social and employment rights and even planning to scrap the Human Rights Act. Cutting front line services and putting people’s lives at risk. Corporatising the state and, for example, pursuing fracking against the will of the people and communities. Manipulating voting and Gerrymandering to rig elections. Undermining democracy and fast tracking laws and now working to neuter the House of Lords. Engaging in wars of aggression. Putting military troops on our streets. And so much more.

Your latest bid to undermine working class communities by ending life time contracts in social housing, claiming it will increase social mobility, is right up there in the despicable stakes. It will not increase social mobility, it will increase social insecurity undermining family and community life and social identity. You do not create any meaningful social mobility by enforcing social insecurity. It doesn’t matter that right now existing tenancy agreements are secure, that is just a smokescreen for an inevitable future of insecurity for (but not exclusive to) working class people.

This is what a dictatorship looks like.–ekox_1SdBx


11_december_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,282

Friday 11 December 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Class warfare is alive and well in Britain, relentlessly pursued by, as the Morning Star so eloquently put it, ‘A cabinet of the rich, for the rich, by the rich’. The bedroom tax remains as despicably divisive and vile a piece of class warfare as ever but ending lifetime tenancies is the vilest attack yet on working class families and communities.

You quite rightly said in 2010, ‘not everyone will support this and there will be quite a big argument’. Well there would have been had you not sneaked it through without so much as a whimper.

The idea that social housing is subsidised is a pernicious falsehood which the Adam Smith Institute, and all you free market religious freaks, are happy to peddle, saying the subsidy is the difference between the price of social rents and what the Adam Smith Institute describes as ‘true market prices’. This is the market as holy writ under the omnipotent god profit. Market prices are, as we all know to our great cost from the rip off prices we now pay for privatised utilities, whatever the market can get away with. The holy writ of the market is a scam that Corporate Watch exposed in 2014 as costing every household £250  more on their electricity, gas and water bills and train fares than if these services were publicly financed.

The religion of the markets is all about the money, people’s lives are not. Denying people the right to stable and secure housing and somewhere they can rightly call Home, where they can be settled, children raised and schooled, and be part of a wider community and have a social identity and enjoy familiarity and peace of mind is far beyond and above financial considerations and it is those considerations which this pernicious legislation is designed to attack.

The emotional and psychological cost of this social thuggery will be astronomical, attacking the very roots of working class identity in Britain. Those who want to whine and complain about social renting as unfair to them might like to get off their silly sanctimonious butts and fight their own battle against the insanity of the unrestrained markets, but of course, such division is what you sow and promote to serve your social vandalism. Rebranding social housing tenants as social pariahs is pure filth from the party of the rich, for the rich, by the rich who resent even the idea that working class people might actually get on in life and enjoy even a hint of the prosperity that you rich pariahs assume is your exclusive right and privilege.,-FOR-THE-RICH,-BY-THE-RICH#.VmldE7_Mvc4


26_october_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,241

Monday 26 October 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

One of the major problems we face in Britain today is cognitive dissonance, the difficulty of holding and resolving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviours. We are all subject to it in a complex world, including the police as I found out on one of my attempts to bring charges against Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Freud for breaches of the human rights act, for forced labour (Workfare) and the right to life (sanctions). Without looking at my evidence I was told, the government wouldn’t do this, they are there to look after the people, thus touchingly putting a personal belief before evidence. Not a very objective approach to law and order.

I find it astonishing and dismaying how difficult it is for so many to face facts and to even acknowledge being conflicted even when the evidence is overwhelming. Instead of building houses to meet the housing crisis you chose to penalise people for living in their existing homes. You chose penalty over provision in your vicious and unjust bedroom tax which despite your promise to parliament that disabled people would be exempt, disabled people have been disproportionately targeted, not least those with specially adapted homes.

You have cut legal aid which specifically attacks poorer people’s ability to gain access to justice and over which the legal profession has taken to the streets in protest. You have increased court fees allowing judges no discretion and over which 50 magistrates have already resigned. Those who plead guilty at magistrates court must pay £150 but if they are found guilty in the high court the fee is £1,200 raising real concerns that people will plead guilty rather than defend their innocence in the high court. As Alistair MacDonald QC put it, ‘No one should be influenced by the extent of a court charge in making their decision about whether to plead guilty or have a trial’.

The list is endless, ending the Independent Living Fund, cuts to tax credits, forced compliance and forced labour under threat of benefit sanctions, attacking junior doctors, breaking up our NHS, the proposal to charge for NHS treatment and to move to a US style insurance scheme. Thousands of disabled people losing their Motability allowance. The disastrous rise in food bank use. Disabled people being forced off disability benefits now that Iain Duncan Smith has decided that work will make them well. Student debt, the PFI scandal, destabilising the NHS, the DWP mishandling benefit claims and bogus claims for over payments of benefits. Tax breaks for the rich, £93 billion in corporate welfare.

Just how much evidence does it take to pause and think and maybe get the merest glimmer of an idea that you do not mean us well? Working class people voting Tory are walking up to a scaffold and putting their own heads in a noose for you to come along and kick the chair away. And you say Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is ‘now a threat to our national security, our economic security and your (our) family’s security’. Forgive me if I die laughing of grief.


28_september_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,214

Monday 28 September 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

You know, sitting, as you do, in the top 10% or 1% of society, or maybe in the top 1% of the top 1% (I don’t know), it is easy for you to judge us and hand down your judgement of us and exact your penances upon us.

You’ve made us slaves to debt. Permanent slaves to austerity. As if we’d had our evil way with the golden pig and now we must pay it back.

But we didn’t, it was not us. Pick out from us the bankers among us who porked the golden pie and, yes, by all means hold us to account, kill us, remove us, deprive us. If we did…

But we did not.

You have never lived or worked in our world, you have enjoyed all the privileges that accident of birth into the upper class could bestow upon you and yet you presume to dictate to us how we should live and to be the leader of the ‘party of working people’, an utterly ludicrous supposition, a fantasy made out of thin air and, of course, spin.

The working class and middle class are the nation builders, the teachers, bricklayers, nurses, doctors, cleaners, firemen and women, street cleaners and the myriad other jobs that create, build, and hold a country together, the wealth creators and those who maintain the entire structure of the world. There are millions in in-work poverty, underpaid and underfed, barely making the news unless it is to report yet another tragic death through poverty and despair.

It is amazing that the only political leader, with an overwhelming democratic mandate, to speak up for ordinary people, including the poor and dispossessed, in this country and this new century, is being reviled and demonised for standing up for social justice. An, as yet unnamed, general, has even threatened treasonous mutiny if Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister for opposing a weapons system which at best will never be deployed, and if used will bring about mutually assured destruction. How many people in the UK will needlessly die of poverty over Tridents 25 year, £100 billion, lifetime?

We, the people, deserve better than this murderous and inexcusable insanity. The markets that you serve so slavishly are not free, the human cost is incalculable. If there is any point to life it is life itself that should be revered not money and certainly not profit from human misery. It is long overdue that humanity grew up and that applies most to those who aspire to power with malicious intent.


27_june_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,130

Saturday 27 June 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Britain has a profound and distressing problem. The problem is your government and can be put very simply, Britain is not your feudal fiefdom and we are not your vassals.

I have, in a long and chequered life, had a fair bit of contact with the ‘upper class’, ex-colonials and, to a much lesser extent, the aristocracy and have witnessed and experienced, first hand, the prevalence of the same feudal mindset towards the lower orders. This deeply rooted, historical mindset is alive and well and as impervious to change as only a narcissistic, self regarding, chronic, pathological, bad attitude can be. Working with such people is irritating, grating and unpleasant because their attitude to people like me is condescending, arrogant and rude to an astonishing degree because of their innate sense of superiority, overweening sense of privilege and condescension to anyone not of their class.

It is this attitude that underpins everything you and your government are doing and your policies and austerity are wrong if for no other reason. You treat our taxes as if they belong to you, as if it is government money to use and abuse as you see fit, and not money that has been bought with the sweat of our labour to be held in trust by government for the universal benefit of the nation.

The system of social security has already been paid for through our labour, it is a system of insurance for those in need at any given time and it is a universal system which includes those who through fate, fortune or misfortune have yet to contribute or are unable to.

Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit, claimant commitment contracts and sanctions regime are wrong because people are reduced to, and treated like, vassals in servitude to the state. People are being driven into forced labour (work) for something that has already been paid for by labour (work) and it is being done in the most demeaning, condescending, punitive, way imaginable under the threat of the loss of the means of survival and, despite his ridiculous displays of moral outrage at the suggestion and his refusal to publish the figures, is costing people their lives.

Sadly, many people are inured to class inequality and will even take to the streets and wave flags and bunting to celebrate it. There is even a name for working class Tory voters, ‘deferential voters’, which politicians, the Mail and the Sun knowingly, wilfully and callously, exploit outrageously. The fact remains, however, Tories have no place in a civilised nation.