Sunday, 23 November 2014

The White Van Man problem - Thatcher Vs Thornberry

There are two pictures on the left. What can I surmise from them? Lets consider the image on the right first. What can we conclude without drawing any stereotypes? Well we can conclude that there is a house occupied by someone who has a job and likes football. The picture was taken a day after an England match, so the owner is likely to care about there national football. There is also a smaller flag with an emblem for West Ham United. This means that the owner supports a team that has a tradition of playing stylish football without winning too many pots.

In othere words, the owner is not a glory hunter or a fair weather friend for the team. You may say "How do you know they have a job?" Well you don't generally have a white van if you don't. The property looks to me like countless hundreds of thousands of other houses that have sprung up on estates all over the country over the last 50 years. At a guess, it's a three bedroom house. Having established the facts, now lets consider the image on the left. This is Labour MP Emily Thornberry (AKA Lady Nugee). What do we know about Emily?  Well until I started writing this blog, I knew the square root of F All. However like all good bloggers I've done my research (actually I just had a look at Wikipedia). It seems she's a barrister by trade. No problem there, my sister is a barrister.

It also reveals that she has an active interest in Social housing. Wikipedia states

Social housing campaign

During the course of a campaign run by Thornberry on the subject of social housing, the Islington Tribune, a local newspaper, discovered that her husband had bought ex-social housing stock for over half a million pounds and receives rental income from the property. It also emerged that the new residents are Labour Party activists.[48] Some related claims in the article regarding Emily Thornberry's involvement in the matter were later retracted by the paper.[49]
  So Ms Thornberry doesn't really mind people who living in ex Council houses, if they are Labour activists and pay her rent. What is 100% clear though is that Ms Thornberry is a bit of a snob. She clearly thinks that driving a white van, living in a terraced house and supporting your club and country are things to be derided and laughed at. But it gets worse. Ed Milliband was asked what he thought when he saw the image and he responded "respect". This to me is almost as bad as Thornberrys initial tweet. It is bad enough for Thornberry to take the mickey out of the image on her twitter feed but Miliband is just so patronising. So you may ask what was my first thought when I saw the image? I thought "Is that a West Ham emblem on the flag?"

When I stood for council in Mill Hill in 2010, I knocked on loads of doors in Mill Hill with England flags and white vans outside. What sort of reception did I get? A couple the door and told me to "F Off". One guy told me he was a BNP voter and to go away. The vast majority however were friendly and keen to let me know what issues they wanted resolving. Issues with school admissions, the Council not finishing work off, issues with care for elderly relatives were among the more common themes. In short, the concerns were exactly the same as anyone else.

If we consider the "white van man" stereotype for a second, a guy who has a job, drinks, smokes, bets and does a lot of driving, maybe the likes of Thornberry should be a little bit slower to look down their nose. As far as I can see, this is the man who will be paying a far greater proportion of his earnings in tax than anyone else. He gets up, does a days graft. Pays a fortune in fuel duty, cigarrette tax, alcohol tax and betting tax. Unlike the residents of £2million + mansions, he sits in the demographic that pays the highest amount of their earnings in Council tax. Due to the drinking and smoking, he's far more likely to drop dead and not be a burden on the welfare stated when he gets old. But most of all, it is the white van men who make the country work. They actually produce or deliver something. The Emily Thornberrys, Ed Milibands and rest of the political elite don't get their hands dirty. The real white van man problem is that the politcal class despise them and give them no credit at all for keeping the country on its feet.

England is a truly strange country in that I don't know another country in the world where the political elite are so allergic to our national flag. Even Alex Salmond unfurled the Saltire at Wimbledon. Can anyone imagine David Cameron draping himself in a falg of St George at a football match, or even buying some Union Jack Underpants to give Sam a cheap thrill? US presidents invariably wear badges with the stars and stripes, but the English ruling class see the flag as "something for the plebs".  What disturbs me most about this situation is that patriotism has almost become a dirty word in the UK. I am an English Patriot, as I would willingly take up arms and fight to preserve our country in the face of a threat. I'd be prepared to lay down my life if it came to it, to protect my wife, family, friends and neighbours. My father and my grandfather served in the forces in two world wars and I am immensely proud of their contribution. My patriotism is not one that wants to close the doors to the outside world, or send people home because they have a different accent. My patriotism is one that wants to see London, England and the United Kingdom be the best place in the world for all its citizens to live in. It goes further than that though. Having built the greatest nation on Earth, I think we should help other nations to reach the standards of freedom, democracy, prosperity and security we take for granted.

The reason we have net immigration is because there is inequality in the world. Until that is addressed, there will be immigration. People say "That is ridiculous, there will always be inequality". This isn't true. For centuries Ireland has seen net migration. Young people were forced to leave by lack of work and opportunities. When did this stop? When the economic situation improved.

As I was putting this article together, I thought back to the heydey of Thatcher. For all her sins, she was not someone who looked down her nose at "white van man". Yesterday was 24 years since the Tories deposed her, despite her never losing an election for them (unlike the present incumbent who has never actually won one). Thatchers secret of success with many "White Van Men" was that she realised that they were aspirational. They don't want handouts, they want the chance to work, earn money, have a house and enjoy life. Thatcher won elections because she connected with a whole section of society that had been completely out of bounds to the Tories before. Unless Labour takes swift action to address the snobbery of the Emily Thornberry Islington types, who currently run the party, they will lose the election because they have alienated a whole group of people who were previously their core voters.

No comments: