Okay, this is going to be something of a wee rant, because it's an issue that has been playing in the back of my mind for a while now.
Put basically, has the UK, as a cultural nation, changed with regards to social classes and some of the accompanying snobbery!
I used to think we have changed, that we were more of a meritocracy, and in many cases that is true. Two of our postwar Prime Ministers' did not go to University, let alone Oxford, and came from lower middle class backgrounds and worked to get to where they ended up. (Some would point out that Churchill also failed to go to University, but he was the grandson of a Duke and went to Sandhurst and, as admiring of him as I am, he got to where he was on social background as well as ability).
But recently I have been wondering about how we perceive our social enviroment.
It all started for me when I had a chat about a potential job at the House of Lords some five years ago. It was before I joined the Labour Party and it would have meant working for a crossbench peer. The chap was so plummy voiced I felt like doffing an imaginary cap, even though he was friendly and considerate. And there was me thinking I could deal with anyone and everyone!
A very recent personal experience was when someone came to the newspaper kiosk where I work and asked for a Daily Telegraph. I explained we had sold out, to which her opening response was "I would not dream of coming here...", something I found slightly offensive and I hope I misunderstood.
But it was the TV Series Little Britain that really did make me wonder about social snobbery. The character Vicky Pollard was one we all laughed at (well some of us anyway), but I remember my Mum taking a dislike to the Pollard sketches, saying that she was being made fun of because she was from a council estate and inarticulate, and therefore thick and irresponsible. On the national media scale, Johann Hari made similar comments. Now admittedly Hari can be emotive in presenting his arguments, but both he and my Mum did make me think! For example there are the criticisms of chav clothing, which is unfair when some cannot afford anything else, and indeed criticism of the lack of social awareness, such as smoking when pregnant or not eating proper food, when many are simply not aware, or indeed in the case of junk food, were not taught to cook properly, or indeed are able to afford anything healthy to eat. This is not to exonerate all aspects of chav culture, nor the fact that chav culture transcends class, but it is simply trying to weed out the unfair from the fair in attacks on chav culture.
Then there are the attacks on people who are self made, who go on holiday to the Costa Del Sol in Spain, instead of the more sophisticated parts of the World. Who are loud, lacking in subtlety, and are emotive in their arguments. Well I come across many across the social divide who are like that!
Well I leave it to you what to make of this, these are just some thoughts and I hope I am wrong. I am not being completely critical of the middle classes (I come from that background myself, although my grandparents came from working class backgrounds and proud of it), but I simply wonder whether the goalposts have simply changed as opposed to a real meritocracy taking place!