Saturday, 17 April 2010

Now the Mail begins Class War on Clegg ... and finds he's suspiciously foreign too

The Daily Mail, reported day one of the election campaign with a masterpiece of self-parody 'NOW THE CLASS WAR BEGINS' as its front page splash, which Next Left enjoyed debunking at the time.

Ten days is a long time in politics. With a third party surge and the threat of a hung Parliament to worry about, the Mail has launched its own class war on Nick Clegg.

Stephen Robinson reflects on how the LibDem leaders "coterie of friends in London .. must have choked on their ciabatta when Clegg reinvented himself as a Yorkshireman, speaking passionately about 'my city of Sheffield'.

David Cameron may alienate many voters with his overly smooth Etonian manner and eager sense of entitlement. But what few voters realise is that, far from being authentic Yorkshiremen, Nick Clegg's recent ancestors are actually every bit as grand as the Tory leader's.

I hadn't myself spotted that the Liberal Democrat leader has been trying to pass himself off as a cross between Geoffrey Boycott and William Hague, but we can all be grateful to Mr Dacre for stopping that in its tracks. (Especially as this author was born in the Doncaster Royal Infirmary, though there's less value in that now that they will let anybody play county cricket for God's Own County these days).


And there's more. Ever wondered why the Buckinghamshire-born Mr Clegg seems so keen on our European neighbours?

"Despite his Anglo-Saxon name, Nick Clegg is by blood the least British leader of a British political party, the son of a Dutch mother and a half-Russian merchant banker father"

I think Winston Churchill and Michael Howard may have a good claim to second and third if there was a post-war party leaders' foreign parentage steeplechase, but they would indeed now have to cede precedence to Clegg.

But "least British by blood"? I rather thought we had cleared up for Mr Dacre the Mail's confusion about who was British and why.

Indeed, they rather graciously acknowledged their error to agree that the British-born children of immigrants - like myself, Mr Clegg and Prince Charles - did count after all. So it is a little disappointing to see the blood theory of degrees of Britishness is back in the newspaper. More British history and citizenship education required

It's going to be a long week of spreading fear of the Yellow Peril across Middle England. Let's hope Mr Dacre isn't losing his touch.

And this may offer more opportunities to build up a fuller understanding of Dacre's Class Rules, so that we might develop them into a sort of modern Debrett's for the political classes, to help out anybody who might find some of these subtle, unspoken distinctions unclear, confusing or even, heaven help us, contradictory.

What we have learnt so far ...

Rule 1: Tory leaders playing the class card when in their favour is the splendidly commendable politics of aspiration; it is only the ghastly politics of envy the other way around.

Rule 2: There should be absolutely no political problem with being as posh as David Cameron ... just as long as your name is David Cameron.