Know Your Place: Britain’s Joe the Plumber Moment
Gordon Brown reminds us that there is no snob like a leftist snob.
May 3, 2010 - 12:00 am
I once had the dubious good fortune to be lunching at a café somewhere in North London at the same time as a prominent left-wing intellectual. I cannot name him, British libel laws being what they are. Suffice it to say that he is what is known, these days, as a “public intellectual” — is a public intellectual allowed to be really thick in the privacy of his own home? — and one with decidedly left-wing views.
The café was short-staffed, and the waitresses were rushed off their feet but doing their best to cope. Their best wasn’t good enough for our left-winger, who let rip at one poor girl, when, through no fault of her own, she was a little late with his order. When she explained that they were short-staffed, he roared imperiously that it was not his problem and that she should damn well do what she was paid for. It seems that his egalitarian principles collapsed when confronted with a real “prole.” And I bet he didn’t leave a tip.
I was not surprised to see this, for I have long believed that there is no snob like a socialist snob. Take Virginia Woolf — she of the impeccably feminist and socialist credentials — and consider how she treated her servants. Theodore Dalrymple in the New Criterion:
She was that peculiarly emblematic type of our age, a person of advanced views and reactionary feeling. … Her servants worked long hours in harsh conditions, of a kind not met with anywhere in the Western world today, but she nevertheless berated them in her diary and in her letters for their stupidity, their lack of finer feeling or accomplishment, their suspected dishonesty and even their greed when, like Oliver Twist, they asked for more (despite her advanced views, she never offered them more than the going rate, and sometimes a little less, the annual wages of a servant employed by her being at one time no more than one percent of her own annual income).
“Advanced views and reactionary feeling” best sums up the attitude of Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown when challenged on immigration by — horror of horrors — an ordinary person. He was friendly enough to her face, but once in the car, when he thought the microphone was turned off, he recoiled with fastidious disgust. “You should never have put me with that woman,” he said to his flunkies. He also called her a bigot. “That woman” is Gillian Duffy, a grandmother from Rochdale, Lancashire; the story has been all over the British newspapers, and has been well covered here at PJ Media by Andrew Ian Dodge.