Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Anthropology of British Hypocrisy continued

Did Rochdalian Duffy Duff-up politics?

LAST SATURDAY, Shakespeare's shortest play The Comedy of Errors was performed before a packed audience of hundreds at Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, while over in Peace Square a May Day Rally of all of a hundred and odd, assembled in the sun beneath a sprinkling of red flags to hear someone called Ian Allenson, and a few others, tell us how awful the Tories and the BNP are. The play is about the chaotic consequences that occur when two pairs of twins are brought together: the politics of today is about what happens when you get political triplets in suits with only different coloured ties to distinguish them.

On Sunday, in The Observer, Nick Cohen, after asking Douglas Alexander and Ed Balls, 'why left-of-centre voters should stick with Labour rather than vote Liberal-democrat' was told: 'Well, if you vote Liberal Democrat you could let the Tories take power.' Nick Cohen went on to write: 'No appeal to idealism. No vision of the future, or offer of hope. No assertion that Labour had the vitality to govern Britain for another five years, and possessed better ideas and stronger morals than the superficially plausible Mr Clegg.' This morning, both Peter Hain and Ed Balls, two leading Labour strategists, have now come out and asked voters to vote tactically to keep the Tories out.

Damage limitation is all that seems to matter now, together with sound-bites and spin, and avoidance of gaffes. Principles, standards, ideas and ideals are not being given the time of day.

Two blokes I respect at the Manchester May Day Rally, last Saturday, told me that bumbler Brown made a mistake when he apologised to Gillian Duffy for describing her as a 'bigot'. Can they have read what she said?

Gillian Duffy from up Healey in Rochdale declared: 'The three main things what I had drummed in when I was a child was education, health service and looking after people who are vulnerable. But there are too many people now who aren't vulnerable but they can claim, and people who are vulnerable can't claim, can't get it.'

Gordon Brown responded: 'but they shouldn't be doing that, there is no life on the dole for people any more. If you are unemployed you've got to work.'

Gillian Duffy: 'You can't say anything about the immigrants because you're saying that you're ... but all these eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?'

Since these words were uttered I've spoken to local women on the 471 & 17 buses that run between Bury and Manchester to Rochdale, and they have insisted that Mrs Duffy 'is only saying what others round here are thinking' or words to that effect.

Yet once in the 'privacy' of his car Gordon Brown's aide asked: 'What did she [Mrs Duffy] say?', to which Mr Brown replied: 'Everything, she was just a sort of bigoted woman who said she used to vote Labour.'

But it turns out that Mrs Duffy wasn't so much offended by being called a 'bigot', as when Mr Brown referred to her as 'that woman'. To the middle-classes 'bigot' is an ugly word of French origin, but 'that woman' is a categorisation device which the English white working-classes in the North of England feel profoundly, because it puts them down or as Mrs Duffy has it: 'It's as if I'm to be brushed away.' 'BRUSHED AWAY', that is what has happened to the white working-classes in the North in recent decades. The word 'bigot' is just an insult and English workers are use to insults, they insult each other all the time with great glee: yet, 'that woman' does something fundamental by packaging her and reducing Mrs Duffy to a category to be disposed of, and in the same way, as a boy, I soon learned that women up North don't like being referred to as 'she' - they will say 'Who's She? The Cat's Mother?' Mr Brown is the son of a Presbyterian minister and those kind of middle-class people with their wagging fingers often refer to others in the third-person: it gives them a sense of superiority and control. One aspect of this is those fashionable political correct people on the left who say as one bloke, who I also respect in many ways, did recently that Northern Voices by publishing a portrait of a nude by the Rochdale artist Walter Kershaw on our current front cover was, in some way, exploiting women. He didn't say we were exploiting 'a woman' - in this case Heather Brown, the artist's model at Bury Art School - he said 'exploiting women': a category. The middle-classes use these kind of devices with blind abandon and in so doing 'brush away' others who they see as essentially inferior and beneath them.

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