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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Press Are The Real Snobs

[Update at end of post]

On rolls the story of Emily Thornberry’s Tweet, with the right-leaning press passing severely adverse comment on anything to do with the Labour Party, which in the retelling has acquired a “contempt” for all those ordinary hard working people who most of those writing the attack pieces would not allow through their front door. And their consensus is that Ms Thornberry is a “snob”.
What's so f***ing elitist about sending my sons to Eton, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

But when a little research is done, it comes clear that many of those passing judgment on Mil The Younger and his party have no room to call out anyone for being “out of touch”, or indeed part of some “metropolitan elite”. One need look no further than the Daily Mail, which today has been drenching the Labour leader in scorn, the attack ordered personally by its legendarily foul mouthed editor.

Paul Dacre, it should be remembered, is such a man of the people that he is chauffeured from his Home Counties pile to his Belgravia pied-a-terre and back – no slumming it with the hoi polloi on the train for him – and that, in addition to these parts of his property portfolio, has a Scottish estate for which he trousers hundreds of thousands of pounds in EU farm subsidies.

Dacre likes his pundits to sound off about the country’s education system, which his sons do not have to sully themselves with: he sends them to Eton. Today, his star columnist Simon “Enoch was right” Heffer pontificates on the potential outcomes of next year’s General Election. Heffer read English at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge following a traditional grammar school education.

Also on the pundit roster at the Mail are Dominic Sandbrook, who attended Malvern College, alma mater of James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, before going up to Balliol College, Oxford, Stephen “miserable git” Glover (Shrewsbury School and Mansfield College, Oxford), and Harry Mount 
(Westminster School and Magdalen College, Oxford) who was, dontcha know, in the Bullingdon Club.

The lead article denouncing Labour, “Labour in chaos over sacking of snob MP: War breaks out in party as desperate Miliband claims he respects White Van Man”, was co-written by Oxford-educated political editor James Chapman. This unappealing convocation of righteousness tells readers that someone else is “snooty”, part of a “metropolitan elite”, and a beneficiary of “privilege

And it’s no different over at the Murdoch Sun, whose managing editor Stig Abell went up to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, whose non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn attended Marlborough College, while Sunday editor Victoria Newton went up to Newnham College, Cambridge. The paper’s most notorious former editor, Kelvin McFilth, attended an independent school in south London.

So that’s at least two very draughty glasshouse newsrooms, then.

[UPDATE 1555 hours: anyone thinking the Mail is anything other than condescending towards ordinary people would do well to check out the following anecdote, courtesy of the Guardian.

"There is one particular story that former staff of the Daily Mail like to tell about the politics, in the broadest sense, of their old paper. A while ago, the newsdesk there noticed a report from a local press agency. A young baby had died from being fed adult food. The Mail immediately got excited: it could interview the grieving parents, make the tragedy the basis for a campaign, and warn the nation of a previously unsuspected danger.

The couple were contacted, and offered £250 for an interview. They agreed, and talked eloquently and at length. A double-page spread - the Mail's traditional mark of a significant article - was put aside in the paper. For the photograph, the parents, who were not well off, were encouraged to look smart: the husband in a suit, his wife in a dress, both of them holding hands.
The morning the feature appeared, it was judged a success at the Mail. The article was by turns sensitive, alarming and full of useful advice. Paul Dacre, the editor then and now, approved - and from him all official sentiments flowed. But then, at lunchtime, Dacre's tall, slightly stooping figure was spotted beneath one of the television monitors hanging from the low ceiling of the open-plan office. Everybody nearby, as it was usually in their interests to, stopped work and looked and listened.
Dacre was watching the one o'clock news with his narrow eyes: on it were the bereaved couple, with messier hair than before, wearing tracksuits and trainers, smoking: not the Mail's sort of people at all. The editor, who is 52, spotlessly shirtsleeved, brisk in his diction, with hair like a cerebral Tory minister, was heard to growl. Then he spoke: 'These people couldn't bring up a f***ing hamster!'"
That, folks, is what the Daily Mail editor thinks of the kinds of people his paper is now championing. Now who's being a snob?]


Colin Randall said...

Tim: I do think Rochester/Thornbury is a stronger contender for contrived scandal of the year. But I await your analysis of the educational backgrounds and attitudes of people in broadcasting and on the less right-wing papers.

One difference between those who, though left-leaning or centrist, love newspapers and those who loathe them is that many of the former would be delighted to see a left/centrist equivalent of the Mail, bold and opinionated and professional. But the other category, while paying insincere lip service to any notion of the freedom of the press, still wouldn't buy it any more than they buy the Guardian or, harking back to the paper that came through the letterbox in my childhood, did buy the Herald.

Bob said...

Emily Thornberry’s Tweet appeared to promote a stereotype. Of course the press would never promote stereotypes to sell newspapers! #Hypocrisy

Anonymous said...

"Emily Thornberry's tweet appeared to promote a stereotype."

How? It was just an image among a number of others.


The accusation that Thornberry was promoting a stereotype depends on somehow knowing what she was thinking. And those who accuse her of snobbery or stereotyping do so on the basis of a narrative inside their own heads that people like Thornberry don't respect the working class. This narrative has very little basis except its constant repetition, and the only respect to the working class that counts is repeating its supposed concerns about immigration: concern about falling wages or job insecurity doesn't count.


The bloke himself says that he thinks all politicians hold him in contempt, not just Labour ones, which is an interesting take on the incident.


Carl Eve said...

Well, thank God Tory MPs have never had to apologise for being snobs, eh...