Written by Jeremy Paxman
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Saturday, 18 September 2010

image for There's No More Working Class Heroes... Becase you're worth it.

Gone are the days I'm afraid when - for want of a better word - the 'poor' could be described as Working Class Heroes. Thanks to the celebrity obsessed "me-generation" -gone too are traditional values and a sense of community.

It's not just the little things like the classless slags who think it's okay to wear pyjamas to go to the shops or the scumbag hoodies who'd stab you for your loose change - it's more than that. It's a twisted sense of deserving, a lack of any true ambition (the only ambition many girls have these days is to be a WAG or a z-list celebrity and most 'deprived' males only aspire to be in a gang 'innit') and a fundamental shift in the expectations of the 'working class'.

Largely - over the last decade and a half (and partially thanks to a nanny state ran by Labour) - the gulf between working class and middle class has widened considerably. That's not because things have gotten worse for the working class, it's actually more the opposite given the minimum wage, overblown benefits system (where numerous work-shy and eternally unemployed ASBO families are literally given hundreds of thousands of pounds a year along with magnificent houses, flat screen TV's and Playstations) and increased opportunity in many areas. No, it's because the expectations of many of the working class have changed dramatically.

Allow me to explain. Most people from pleasant middle class backgrounds have traditionally taken a lot for granted. A decent house, a nice car, holidays every year, a nice bottle of wine from Waitrose. Therefore, it's always been the case that aspirationally, the next level for them in terms of the manifestation of greed has been a bigger house, a bigger car, more luxurious holidays, better wine etc. The bridge between middle class and wealthy is relatively a short one. Nowdays though, with the credit crunch hitting the middle classes the hardest, especially in terms of taxation, credit availability / repayment, jobs etc. the middle classes have had to curtail these relatively achievable ambitions. To their credit, the majority of the middle classes have now realigned their ambitions for what are quite simple and even noble things - paying off their credit cards, having just a weekend away, a second hand car, a secure job etc. The first part of my point therefore is that the middle classes generally have realistic ambitions and traditionally, they always have because the step to the next level has never been too unachievable, especially while there was a glut of credit available.

This leads us onto the working class. The poor. Not the truly poor like those in Africa for example. Their ambition is to secure their next meal. To avoid terminal disease. To see their children live past the age of 5. Give them a mansion or a sports car and they wouldn't know what to do with it, it's not even on their mental radar in terms of what they aspire to. They aspire only to survive. The working class though - or I should say a particular element of the working class who are more often the unemployed / unemployable class have entirely different - and wildly unrealistic - ambitions and expectations. For many of these people, they don't aspire to lift themselves out of poverty, to get a job, to get away to Majorca for a week. Oh no, they desire, nay demand that they deserve to be rich. Don't pass go, don't collect £200, no... I'll proceed directly to the Range Rover Sport please and I'll take the luxury house and big holidays to boot. They don't feel they just deserve to be able to buy a nice bottle of wine, they feel they deserve to be quaffing Cristal, they'll actually scoff at those people happily existing in the middle ground of poverty and wealth. I've seen these type of people get a few grand by whatever bit of fortune - often nefarious - and rather than showing any kind of prudence, they go out and buy a pair of Laboutins. They go out and blow £500 on champagne. They spend a grand on hair extensions or lip jobs or £500 pairs of jeans. These are a type of noveau riche. The type who if you offered them £500 to do a weeks graft would turn you down because they somehow feel they should get a million quid for doing nothing. We've created a society where they think this is easily achievable if they simply hang about in the right clubs and shag the right bloke or if they can steal it off someone else or if they can manipulate the benefits system. It's almost like the mentality of shoplifters or car thieves - those who think it's ok because the stores or individuals are insured without realising that they're pushing up costs for everyone else.

The gulf between poverty and wealth is clearly much wider than it is between reasonably comfortable and wealthy yet there seems to be no middle ground for many of those working class people. They want to go from poverty to fame and fortune with no effort on their behalfs and they practically sneer at those who attempt to climb the ladder rung by rung.

I'm afraid these people don't deserve to be on the ladder. These aren't working class hero's, they're working class villains and class enemies of those genuine people who are poor but would work themselves to death 24 hours a day just to climb a single rung of the ladder.

This may not be a spoof but the joke is definitely on us. How do we get community back? How do we kill off celebrity culture? How do we halt the insidious tide of working class greed because that's what it is. It's not working class dreams anymore, it's middle class nightmares.

Answers on a postcard please.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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