Sunday, March 1, 2015

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There is Only One Aspect of British Life Which is Still Dominated by the Working Classes Hence its Enormous Popularity

Mick Hall with a piece on soccer which he argues is still immersed in the traditions and culture of the working class.  Mick Hall is a veteran Marxist activist and trade unionist who blogs at Organized Rage.

I've written before about how public life in much of the UK has become a working class free zone, whether it be politics, big business, the arts, or the mainstream media, working class people have been all but excluded from front of house roles, having been replaced by upper middle class clones of the ruling class. When was the last time you heard someone speaking in parliament with a brummie, scouse or cockney accent? This lack of access to public life is especially true of broadcasters like the BBC and Sky TV. TV documentaries bar the odd one, are presented wall to wall by middle class Oxbridge academics or their former pupils. They make no attempt to empathise with their working class viewers.


The same goes for the arts; the acting profession which had been reinvigorated in the post WW2 years with an influx of young working class actors, some of whom came to dominate their profession at home and in Hollywood. Has reverted back to type and is once again dominated by upper middle class actors with modest talents who are lauded by the media way above their actual abilities. People like Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne, Carey Mulligan, Laurence Fox and Tom Hiddleston. Modest talents some might question, but if you look beyond the PR powder puff there is little depth to their acting as they mainly play what they are, which is upper middle class to the core.

Thus today the film and TV industry mainly churns out remakes of productions first produced long ago like Gatsby and Testament of Youth, or films like The Kings Speech, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything, which are set in the 1940-50s when the writ of the upper middle classes was last in its prime.

These films are shallow and tame designed to make the average viewer leave the cinema comforted by the thought that such people rightly have a more prominent role in public life. Heroes everyone. As one critic dismissed Eddie Redmayne's latest film:
"No one gets upset, all remain friends and the superstar scientist’s image remains considerately unsullied. It's a shallow, tame adaptation of Jane Hawking’s memoir, diluted to the point of tedium.”
The mainstream media is no better with over 50% of newspaper columnists coming from the upper middle classes, again it's circa 1950s Britain. These columnists have no understanding about what makes working class people tick, they simply reflect their narrow class prejudiced view of the world, when they do write about working class people they dismiss them in an ignorant and derogatory way.

Recently one of these columnists summed up just how ignorant and class prejudiced she and her colleagues can be when writing a piece about feminism and housework:
However, now there’s a new study, by a researcher from the University of Warwick, which questions accepted wisdom on housework gender wars. The research noted that different male approaches to household chores might have something to do with class and earning levels. While women still do the most housework, and men still use the “incompetence” ruse, men also do say they believe in gender equality. However, while those on lower incomes increasingly mucked in with housework, men on higher incomes not so much. 
This is fascinating, if, like me, you've always directed your resentment about housework towards the entire male sex. Some might have automatically presumed that working-class men would be the most bullishly traditional, while middle-class men would be the most enlightened and egalitarian.
Why would she think this, does she believe our women are more servile than those of the middle class, does she believe we are more coarse and brutal, the answer is yes, although she would never admit it. It is the same when racism is ever discussed in the media, it's always working class people who are tarred as racist, never mind we have not had a hand in embedding institutional racism in the police, British army or Parliament, etc, unlike the middle and upper middle classes I might add. Look across the British institutions and in almost every single one its upper echelons are top heavy with white middle class men.

When was the last time a documentary appeared on TV which looked at the depth of middle and upper middle class racism? Never I would suggest. This is not an accident it is deliberate design, just as is the exclusion of working class people from public life.

Of course there are racist bigots and misogynists amongst all classes and races but we face up to this fact, whilst, to put it crudely, due to their inbuilt class prejudice the middle and upper classes believe their own excreta doesn't stink.

However thankfully there is one aspect of British life which is still dominated by the working classes, hence it's enormously popular, whether on the pitch or in the TV studio it's still our game. Today working class people totally dominate association football. By and large it's a toff free zone and is all the better for that. True members of the elites hang out at the big clubs much like groupies around 1970s pop groups. The true fans view them with the contempt they deserve, and the corrupt oligarchs or foreign billionaires who own these clubs see them as servants on the make who may or may not help to oil their wheels.

As Bill Shankly once said:
'At a football club, there's a holy trinity - the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don't come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques.'

Whether it be in after match interviews of players, or punditry in the Studio, we get a glimpse of what the nation is missing. Players and Pundits are exclusively from the working classes, they come across as ordinary people, there is no flailing about with their hands, or PR speak, which is the norm amongst the sheep like neo liberal elites and the middle class broadcasters of today. They talk simply and often articulately and by doing so highlight what the country has lost by public life becoming a working class free zone.

The more inclusive and equal society which was built in the post WW2 years came about due to political and trade union struggle; and the coming-together of working class talent and the best elements of the middle classes which are the very elements which are today being excluded from public life. (In a different context John Harris writes eloquently about this here)

Strangely the TV moguls understand this full well, otherwise why would they be lining up to offer £5.5bn plus deal for the Premier League’s live TV rights. Sadly in fear of governmental pressures they fail to act upon it in the field of news and entertainment.

So why is soccer still a toff free zone after all the ruling classes can smell big money in a trough from miles away. It’s a quirk of history, the schools and universities the upper middle classes and aristocracy send their children to are contemptuous of football as it was a working class game. Thus unfit for the school curriculum, cricket was fine, rugby OK, rowing great, but soccer was just not a so called gentleman's game. This also explains the woodenness and sheer stupidity when the likes of George Osborne pontificate about being great football fans.



Note Osborne and Sepp Blatter are looking at the camera, not the cup, real fans would be so euphoric they would not even notice it
Working class people are far from the solid block of ignorance and want the mainstream media portrays us as. We come in all colours, have ambitions and dreams, some are articulate, some not, we instictivly recognise those amongst us who are leaders of men and women. In many ways football reflects all this. Historically we gained our place at the top table through years of struggle, and not a little sacrifice in two world wars. For today's ruling class to deny us our rightful place in a democratic society is shameful and outrageous and disadvantages the nation as a whole.

For the ruling classes to ring fence their own wealth and privileges at the expense of others as they do today, demonstrates their arrogance and ignorance as they have clearly not learnt a damn thing from 20th century history.

By denying working class people their democratic rights they do so at their own peril. They need to understand when people come to believe the democratic avenues to engage in public life and build a better society have been closed off to them, history teaches they reach out for whatever is to hand and offers them the best chance of getting out from under the yoke of their tormentors.


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On a lighter note below are some quotes about life and football from Bill Shankly, the socialist and great football manager who was working class to the core:

'Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.'

*****
'Son, you'll do well here as long as you remember two things. Don't over-eat and don't lose your accent.' - to Ian St John when he signed for Liverpool.

*****
Talking about the Liverpool fans - 'I'm just one of the people who stands on the kop. They think the same as I do, and I think the same as they do. It's a kind of marriage of people who like each other.'

*****  
'The trouble with referees is that they know the rules, but they don't know the game.'

*****

Talking to a reporter about Roger Hunt - 'Yes Roger Hunt misses a few, but he gets in the right place to miss them.'

*****

Explaining to Kevin Keegan what's expected of him at Anfield - 'Just go out and drop a few hand grenades all over the place son!'

*****

'I know this is a sad occasion, but I think that Dixie would be amazed to know that even in death he could draw a bigger crowd to Goodison than Everton on a Saturday afternoon.' - speaking at the funeral of Everton legend Dixie Dean

*****

'Sickness would not have kept me away from this one. If I'd been dead, I would have had them bring the casket to the ground, prop it up in the stands, and cut a hole in the lid.' - after beating Everton in the 1971 FA Cup semi-final.

*****

Addressing the Liverpool fans who turned up in their thousands to welcome the team home despite losing to Arsenal in the 1971 FA Cup final - 'Chairman Mao has never seen a greater show of red strength.'

*****

To Alan Ball after he'd signed for Everton - 'Never mind Alan, at least you'll be able to play next to a great team.'

*****

To Tommy Smith after he'd turned up for training with a bandaged knee - 'Take that poof bandage off, and what do you mean YOUR knee, it's LIVERPOOL'S knee!'

*****  

About the 'This is Anfield' plaque - 'This is to remind our lads who they're playing for, and to remind the opposition who they're playing against.'

*****

Shankly explaining rotation to a reporter - 'Laddie, I never drop players, I only make changes.'

*****

Comparing the Anfield pitch to other grounds - 'It's great grass at Anfield, professional grass!'

*****

'The difference between Everton and the Queen Mary is that Everton carry more passengers!'

*****

To a local barber, who in 1968 had asked 'Anything off the top? Shanks retorted - 'Aye, Everton!'

*****  

To Tommy Smith during training - 'You son, could start a riot in a graveyard.'

*****

On a wartime Scotland v England match - 'We absolutely annihilated England. It was a massacre. We beat them 5-4.'

*****

What Shanks disliked about football - 'The end of the season.'

*****

To reporters after a 3-0 defeat - 'They're nothing but rubbish. Three breakaways, that's all they got.'

*****

Talking about Tommy Smith - 'If he isn't named Footballer of the Year, football should be stopped and the men who picked any other player should be sent to the Kremlin.'

*****

After winning the FA Cup in 1974 Shankly goes into a fish and chip shop and orders a fish supper. The woman at the counter asks - 'Mr Shankly, shouldn't they be having steak suppers?' Shanks replied - 'No lass, they'll get steak suppers when they win the double!'

*****  

'I was only in the game for the love of football - and I wanted to bring back happiness to the people of Liverpool.'

*****

"If you can't make decisions in life, you're a bloody menace. You'd be better becoming an MP!'

*****

After a 0-0 draw at Anfield - 'What can you do playing against 11 goalposts!'

Waxing lyrical about Ian Callaghan - 'He typifies everything that is good in football, and he has never changed. You could stake your life on Ian.'

*****

'Fire in your belly comes from pride and passion in wearing the red shirt. We don't need to motivate players because each of them is responsible for the performance of the team as a whole. The status of Liverpool's players keeps them motivated.'

*****

'Football is a simple game based on the giving and taking of passes, of controlling the ball and of making yourself available to receive a pass. It is terribly simple.'

*****

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