The Inertia of the British Middle Classes

The fascinating social experiment which is the United Kingdom got a bit more interesting last week when a bomb was planted on the London Underground. Fortunately it failed to fully explode, but it burned a number of people as the carriage passed through Parsons Green tube station, leaving behind a smoking Lidl carrier bag with fairy lights and crocodile clips which people seemingly walked right up to and photographed. Obviously they didn’t know it was a bomb, which leaves me to assume they were merely outraged at carrier bags littering the tube, bags they thought had been banned.

The media are, as usual, doing everything they can to obfuscate over who planted the bomb. Check out this BBC report:

An 18-year-old and 21-year-old are being held over the explosion, which injured 30 at Parsons Green station.

The house being searched in Sunbury-on-Thames belongs to a married couple known for fostering hundreds of children, including refugees.

Friend Alison Griffiths said the couple had an 18-year-old and a 22-year-old staying with them recently.

She described Mr and Mrs Jones as “great pillars of the community”, adding: “They do a job that not many people do.”

Lots of people have 18 and 21/22 year olds staying with them. What we want to know is are these the same ones who planted the bomb? The BBC can’t quite bring itself to ask the question, let alone answer it.

When the British government decided to admit thousands of child refugees from Iraq, Syria, and everywhere else it was obvious that many were not refugees and an awful lot of them weren’t children. The authorities didn’t even bother hiding this, such is their contempt for truth and transparency. They were warned time and again that these people weren’t being properly vetted and, having come from a war zone, some of them could be Islamist nutters bent on waging jihad once in the UK. Nobody cared: not the government, and nor the population.

Sure, people made noises on social media but when Nigel Farage brought up the issue of refugees in the last General Election the middle classes howled in outrage and backed that nice man Corbyn instead. However you interpret the results of the GE, one thing is clear: the bulk of the British people seem quite unconcerned about refugees and mass immigration. Proof of this is the reaction of the media and middle classes to people on the continent like Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen. They wrung their hands at these nasty, racist people and cheered when the Netherlands and France “rejected hate” by electing nice, reasonable people who avoided mentioning Islam, terrorism, and immigration as much as they could.

The British middle classes have gone into full-on meltdown over Donald Trump, with many wanting him banned from the UK and others openly calling him a white supremacist. The same people reacted with apoplectic outrage when the rather mild and reasonable Jacob Rees-Mogg said that, being a Catholic, he opposed abortion in all forms. Apparently there is no place for opinions like that in British political discourse, and he was branded a dangerous extremist. The chances of someone like Rees-Mogg, i.e. a genuine conservative being elected British Prime Minister are slim indeed.

What people want is the sort of wet centrist that Cameron personified. Looks like a nice young man, not especially bright, will say whatever makes people happy and won’t really try to change anything. He’s basically the nice-but-dim uncle your parents let run the kids’ birthday party, a safe pair of hands. They don’t want the other uncle who goes on anti-nuclear marches and everyone suspects is a bit of paedo, and nor do they want the one who’s been in the marines and swears too much. People don’t like Theresa May because she exudes soulless mediocrity and reminds people of the dinner lady nobody liked in school, not because her policies are stupid.

This smouldering bucket on the tube has proved that beyond doubt. The policy of admitting in unvetted migrants from the Middle East and passing them off as child refugees was central to the government of which Theresa May and Amber Rudd were part. Okay, perhaps the 18-year old was a child when he got admitted. It would certainly explain the amateurish bomb-making efforts. The instructions on Fisher Price detonators were always hard to follow. I digress.

My point is that anyone who had not been following politics for the past few years would think the British public would be going absolutely mental at this government and the last for pursuing this insane policy, which has bitten them on the arse in the very manner everyone said it would. But no, the media and middle classes are as muted as ever in the wake of an Islamist bombing, hands are being wrung about a possible Islamaphobic backlash, Sadiq Khan has requested the BBC play the same speech he did last time to save him the effort of repeating himself, and all focus is on how Boris Johnson isn’t fit to be Foreign Minister because he said some things Remainers don’t like.

One can only conclude from all this that the majority British public, and certainly the middle classes, are not unhappy with the situation. Economists have this wonderful term called revealed preferences whereby you watch what people actually do rather than listen to what they say. Well, I’ve seen the reaction of the British public to Wilders, Le Pen, Rees-Mogg, Trump, and Farage and I’ve also seen their response to a series of Islamist bombings aimed at killing as many Britons as possible. What conclusion am I supposed to draw?

My guess is most people live nice, comfortable lives. They have enough food, a warm dry bed, a roof over their heads and more luxuries than their parents ever had, including a second car, foreign holidays, and an expensive phone. By historical standards they are financially secure (nobody is going to evict them from their home, and they can always get another credit card), and most are raising one, two, or three absolute brats who give the mother that unconditional love she’s craved since her student days when she watched far too much telly. It’s not just material, they have spiritual satisfaction, too: in the absence of a religion they have taken to virtue-signalling, backing righteous causes such as banning carrier bags, and making the world a better place – by opposing nasty men like Donald Trump, for example.

One should never discount how much intertia resides in a population so satisfied. Let’s be honest, nobody wants to change anything very much while things are going so well. If a giant bomb went off in London next week killing dozens of people and a fringe politician came out of the woodwork and said “By fuck, enough’s enough, I’m gonna solve this!” the middle classes would shit themselves and would cheer the Met as they arrested him for hate speech and carted him away in a paddy wagon decorated with LGBT livery. The chances of any individual being blown up or mown down by an Islamist nutter in the UK are miniscule, and for most people it’s simply not worth rocking the boat by electing someone who’s willing to harbour robust opinions, never mind actually do something.

In other words, Islamic terrorism is an acceptable price to pay to avoid upsetting the material and spiritual status quo the middle classes enjoy. And that’s why nothing gets done about it.

Anyone want to come up with a better explanation?

(Incidentally, this isn’t just a British thing: the German election is about to see Angela Merkel rewarded for her insane immigration and refugee policies with another term, running against someone who makes her look sensible. Again, what conclusion am I supposed to draw?)

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60 thoughts on “The Inertia of the British Middle Classes

  1. ‘Middle class(es)’ is doing a lot of work in your post, Tim. The middle classes include professionals, bureaucrats, business people etc – a wide variety of people in the public and private sectors: they are not an homogenous grouping.

    I find David Goodhart’s division of the UK’s electorate into Somewheres (c.50%), Anywheres (c.25%) and and those in-between (c.25%) more useful and illuminating:
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/22/the-road-to-somewhere-david-goodhart-populist-revolt-future-politics

    My impression, as a middle class chap from the shires, is that 50-60% of the electorate is disillusioned and angry about how the UK is governed – and particularly about immigration and islamic terrorism – but also with many other British institutions, such as the BBC, the police, the arts organisations, the universities, Councils, the National Trust, etc, etc. (The NHS remains a sacred cow though.) In private, over a drink, my leftist (but socially quite conservative) neighbour froths with rage about the ‘child’ refugees and muslim immigration. Yet he’s terrified of being labelled an islamophobe or – far worse – a racist or perpetrator of hate crime. In other words, politicians, media and police enforce the dogma that “community cohesion” is paramount and that the communities of recent arrivals must not be upset but won over by concessions. And so the silent majority is intimidated into staying silent.

  2. ‘Middle class(es)’ is doing a lot of work in your post, Tim.

    It is. I can’t think of a better description, and whereas many of the Middle Classes *aren’t* like those I describe, you can be sure that those I describe are most definitely Middle Class. The working classes and aristocracy would deal with terrorism in pretty short order I’d imagine.

    My impression, as a middle class chap from the shires,…

    Yes, I agree with all of that, and things are changing. But it’s a slow process, and I’ll believe progress has been made when someone like Rees-Mogg gets a shot at being elected without being screeched down as an extremist before he’s even considered running. As you say:

    And so the silent majority is intimidated into staying silent.

    Yeah, but look who they vote for. Let’s not kid ourselves that if a serious, conservative candidate put himself forward these silenced people would vote for him in the secrecy of the ballot box. No, they’d loudly denounce him and call for someone like Cameron, thinking he’s the sort of person who could cut it.

  3. The working classes and aristocracy would deal with terrorism in pretty short order I’d imagine.

    I doubt it. Large numbers of working class people supported UKIP, and even more voted for Brexit…and then they voted for terrorist-sympathising and pro-immigrant Corbyn at the general election!

  4. Large numbers of working class people supported UKIP, and even more voted for Brexit…and then they voted for terrorist-sympathising and pro-immigrant Corbyn at the general election!

    I thought Corbyn’s base was young, middle-class wankers not the rough-arse working classes!

  5. In general, people are very very bad at making changes until they are deemed absolutely necessary. As you say in another post, the unlikely election of Trump could be the safety valve that the USA needs. In general the pattern is Business as Usual, Business as Usual,Business as Usual (are you kidding me?), Boom. Not just politics but in business and financial markets too.

  6. “@morsjon – “In general, people are very very bad at making changes until they are deemed absolutely necessary.”

    Alternatively the elite can make is easier and decide for us, just like this British educated lady is doing.

    Deputy Secretary-General’s remarks at the High-level Event Financing the 2030 Agenda – The Role of the United Nations [as prepared for delivery]

    “Trillions of dollars a year need to be mobilized, that is, the savings of citizens around the world, and channeled to countries, communities and local economies – through ODA, domestic financing and the world’s financial system..”

    Amina J. Mohammed (born 27 June 1961) is the current Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and a former Minister of Environment of Nigeria.

    Born in 1961, and educated in Nigeria and the UK, Mohammed is married and has six children.

    https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/dsg/statement/2017-09-18/deputy-secretary-generals-remarks-high-level-event-financing-2030

  7. “I thought Corbyn’s base was young, middle-class wankers not the rough-arse working classes!”

    In part, yes. But the UKIP vote collapsed at the GE, splitting 7:3 in favour of Labour. And the Labour base remained tribally loyal, even when they had voted for Brexit. It’s quite bizarre.

  8. But the UKIP vote collapsed at the GE, splitting 7:3 in favour of Labour.

    Yes, you’re right. I have no idea what they were voting for.

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