“Why aren’t the British middle classes staging a revolution?”, asks Telegraph columnist Alex Pound.
Why aren’t the middle classes revolting? Words you probably never thought you’d read in the Telegraph. Words which, as a Gladstonian Liberal, I never thought I’d write. But seriously, why aren’t we seeing scenes reminiscent of Paris in 1968? Moscow in 1917? Boston in 1773?
I don’t much like a lot of what he’s written (“While much of what Reagan and Thatcher did was necessary…”), that’s not the point, and I’m not part of his target audience – “officer class” types, more senior managers, people who “worry about things like Farrow & Ball Paint colours”. But he gets a few things spot on.
He clearly identifies himself and his middle-class readership as part of the “99%” – or rather the “99.9%”. His readership is certainly not part of the elite: “All these guys care about is money. They don’t care about society. They certainly don’t care about jobs and they don’t care about you.”
He’s right that discussing politics, economics, political economy, inequality, the ethics (or not) of capitalism belongs in a “lifestyle” column. In a sense he’s writing about social reproduction: “the most important lifestyle issue you’ll ever face”.
He touches at parts of what we’ve called the “neoliberal deal” too. He notes that, in the 1980s, that period when Regan and Thatcher were carrying out their “necessary” attacks on the working class, the middle classes, “vain fools that we were, we identified upwards.” And, finally, he’s clear that this “deal” is now over, that things have changed: “And its when the middle classes start identifying downwards, rather than upwards that when elites really need to start watching their backs”.
So, perhaps next time London riots, it’ll be Kensington, Mayfair and Notting Hill in flames, not Hackney and Croydon. And the people on ordinary incomes won’t be hiding their homes, they’ll be joining in or at least cheering from the sidelines.