Friday, 16 February 2018

Some of my best friends are working class

This year sees the 100th anniversary of (some) women being given the right to vote in the UK. What has gained much less attention is that it is also the 100th anniversary of the introduction of universal suffrage for men. Before 1918, most working-class men couldn’t vote either. But, nowadays, as Brendan O’Neill writes here, working-class voices, especially the voices of working-class men, seem to be largely airbrushed out of public discourse.

So it is in the world of beer. We hear plenty about “beer sexism”, but much less about the exclusion of the working class. Has there ever been a more achingly right-on, middle-class endeavour as the whole project of “craft beer”? It seems that some involved in it have cottoned on to the fact that they “have a reputation as gentrification’s outriders” and, according to an article in the Guardian entitled Draft includers: how craft beer found its mission, have been “trying to bring in more women, working-class people and people with disabilities to both drink beers – and make them.”

However, the whole piece comes across as a classic example of Guardianista identity politics virtue-signalling. As an example of “reaching out”, it offers:

In Australia, the Sparkke Change Beverage Company is aiming to drive social change with its canned beers, ciders and wine, all of which raise money for charity. The pilsner, for example, is called Change the Date; it supports the campaign to move Australia Day away from 26 January, which is “a date that marks the beginning of two centuries of dispossession, theft, colonisation and violence”.
Anything less likely to win over the average ocker is hard to imagine. What does it have to say to a Stella-loving, Sun-reading, white-van driving, footy-supporting, Leave-voting working-class drinker? And yes, that is a stereotype too, but one with a strong base in reality. To a working-class beer drinker, Peroni is aspirational. Cloudwater is something beamed down from another planet.

In the early days of CAMRA, real ale was something consumed as much, if not more, by working-class drinkers as by middle-class ones, although to them it was just bitter or mild. The middle-class aficionados would go on excursions to down-to-earth pubs in Eccles and Lower Gornal to seek out rare brews. But people don’t do that now, and in many cases the pubs themselves will have either closed or lost their real ale. And how many working-class drinkers would you find in your average trendy suburban craft beer bar?

While class is a matter of identity, not just money, the oft-heard claim that beer is too cheap, and the push for the £5 pint to be normalised, are in effect putting two fingers up to any drinkers who are struggling to make ends meet.

For the avoidance of doubt, I am middle class and have never pretended to be otherwise. But, unlike some, I don’t sneer at people who drink Stella, eat at McDonald’s and shop at ASDA. Indeed on occasion I have done all three myself.

92 comments:

  1. You missed out "staffy-owning and "fly-tipping", Mudge.

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    1. I'm not accusing anyone of illegal behaviour...

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  2. PS

    "For the avoidance of doubt, I am middle class and have never pretended to be otherwise. But, unlike some, I don’t sneer at people who drink Stella, eat at McDonald’s and shop at ASDA. Indeed on occasion I have done all three myself."

    What, not even if they voted Labour, Green, Lib Dem or Remain? Really? Plenty do after all.

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    1. I don't sneer at people who have different opinions from myself. Unlike Emily Thornberry.

      But "working-class people voting Green"? Thanks for the best laugh of the day, mate ;-)

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    2. There's some sneering at you going on in the comments section of Paul Bailey's blog.

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    3. If he chooses to sound off about me in the comments on other blogs it just serves to underline my point.

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  3. Oof.

    Feels like a no-win situation here but I'll have a go...

    "working-class voices... seem to be largely airbrushed out of public discourse"

    I'd agree with that. When I've tried to articulate thoughts on this before I've been savaged but in my experience (council estate, comp, parents who worked in factories/warehouses, skint the vast majority of my life) it's a combination of lack of opportunity (can't afford unpaid internships, no connections, etc.) and reticence/self-doubt. I've just barely got the nerve to express myself in public and that's out the other side of two degrees and 15+ years writing and editing for money.

    "especially the voices of working-class men"

    But I don't think I'd agree with that. I still reckon the majority of public figures you might define as working class in one way or another are blokes (MPs, writers, journalists, even musicians). I'll go further: this assertion seems delusional.

    "We hear plenty about “beer sexism”, but much less about the exclusion of the working class."

    Again, when people try, they get savaged, either because their sincerity is doubted, or these days because it's "virtue signalling". I sometimes think people who make this point don't really care about working class people so much as they do putting the boot into their political opponents. (Oh, there *I* go accusing other people of insincerity.)

    "What does it have to say to a Stella-loving, Sun-reading, white-van driving, footy-supporting, Leave-voting working-class drinker? And yes, that is a stereotype too, but one with a strong base in reality."

    *cringe*

    I think one of the most... I want to say 'offensive' but that word sets people off... One of the most annoying things you can do is over-simplify working class lives. In my family, I've got or have had racists, communists, musicians, writers, football fans, sport-avoiding nerds, Sun readers and broadsheet subscribers. We're just as weird and complicated as posh people, and certainly every bit as capable of being cerebral. (Jeez, I met some dim posh people at university.) My family has always talked about food a lot and so I've never felt as if being interested in beer to a slightly weird degree was a betrayal of my roots.

    But, anyway, what would you like to change in this situation? Is it for craft beer as a concept/culture to have less prominence in the conversation? That seems achievable. Jess and I have certainly been writing about it less in the last few years, perhaps as the obsession with pubs has taken over. I think it would help, too, if people could learn to write about stuff that *isn't* craft beer without making constant snide reference *to* craft beer. Every time somebody does that, the piece immediately becomes *about* craft beer again.

    I dunno. Hope that's some sort of useful contribution.

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    1. The narrative about the denigration of working-class interests, tastes and pastimes is a very prevalent one, it's not just Brendan O'Neill. For example, from the other side of the political spectrum, see Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class by Stockport native Owen Jones.

      It's also been widely observed that white working-class boys are the group that do worst in school, possibly because they are not accorded sufficient respect by teachers. This has been pointed out by another Stockport native, Angela Rayner: White working class boys left behind because of 'negative impact' of focus on ethnic minorities and women. I don't agree with her politics, but she is one of the few authentically working-class voices in national politics.

      And it's hard to deny there's a strong element of patronising snobbery in much of the public health campaigning about improving diets, as argued by Simon Cooke: Obesity policy - snobbery dressed up as healthcare.

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    2. "I sometimes think people who make this point don't really care about working class people so much as they do putting the boot into their political opponents"

      Well, people have been cherry-picking examples to suit their own viewpoint since time immemorial, but it doesn't necessarily mean they're not sincere about caring for that particular thing.

      "Virtue signalling" is defined by Wikipedia as "the conspicuous expression of moral values done primarily with the intent of enhancing standing within a social group." Of course sometimes people express genuine, heartfelt beliefs, at other times they latch on to causes and issues to make themselves look good in the eyes of others.

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    3. "One of the most annoying things you can do is over-simplify working class lives"

      Which is why I said that was "a stereotype", not something representative of the whole. But it is a recurring them that (some) middle-class people are very sniffy about what working-class people like and do. I've done it myself, for example with reference to people liking "Mrs Brown's Boys."

      What would I like to change? For "craft beer" to accept that it is just another niche middle-class enthusiasm and stop pretending it's some kind of moral crusade.

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    4. That sounds a bit unfair, I would characterise people who like Mrs. Brown's Boys as nostalgic pensioners who long for the return of It Ain't Half Hot Mum and Love They Neighbour, nothing to do with social class in any way. Again coming out with a pointless stereotype...

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    5. No, "Mrs Brown's Boys" is just simplistic and crude. There was far more intelligence, subtlety and social observation in "It Ain't Half Hot Mum" and the other Perry & Croft shows.

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  4. There are two ways of looking at class, a subjective cultural one around lifestyle and interests, and an objective economic one: a young couple who are teachers, social workers or civil servants, buying their own house, read the Guardian, vote Green, supported Remain, go on holiday to France and drink craft beer are skilled, white-collar workers whereas your sterotypical tattoed, Sun-reading white van man who goes to Marbella, drinks Stella, lives in social housing and voted Leave is most likely running his own small business (gardening, plumbing, building), but the former still tend to think of themselves as middle-class and the latter as working-class.

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    1. Teachers, social workers and (office-based) civil servants have never been remotely working class. But you are right that it is as much about values and outlook as about income per se.

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    2. Genuinely curious on this topic. I understand money doesn't dictate class in England like it does in the US. What values and outlook would differentiate teachers, social workers and civil servants from the working class?

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    3. @Dave - not sure money solely dictates class in the US either. The Beverly Hillbillies were still hillbillies, and an Ivy League graduate with rich parents is still middle-class even if earning a pittance working for a charity.

      Can't do justice to it in a blogpost, but it's a mixture of:

      * Occupational status
      * Household status
      * Educational level
      * Family connections
      * Cultural identity
      * Overall financial position

      There is a grey zone, but in general it's pretty clear.

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    4. "Civil servant" covers a huge span of occupations and backgrounds, from those who left school at 16 with a couple of "O" Levels and now work in a social security office filing and sorting post for a low wage, live in social housing and drink in estate pubs who (and I'm speaking from personal experience here) would laugh if you told them they were middle rather than working-class, and ex-public school pupils who went to Oxbridge, entered the higher ranks of the civil service as part of the graduate fast-track stream and now head a Department, regularly meet the Queen and Prime Minister and own several properties in the Home Counties who definitely aren't working-class.

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  5. Me buying a pint of Gamma Ray doesn't stop Joe Bloggs buying a pint of Fosters in the Dog and Duck but as most people enjoy sampling new products the market for cooking lager is probably going to shrink over time.

    I've long thought the survival of pubs is in making it a premium experience rather than the everyday and interesting beer is one way of doing that.

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  6. Why do (some) craft beer bloggers/brewers want to force people to take part in their niche middle class hobby? Perhaps some people can see through all the fake bonhomie and smug self-aggrandizement and don't really fancy it.

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  7. Some of us may prefer Upper Gornal you know.

    Having a hobby such as being into the beer "scene", whatever or whenever that may be, is always going to tend to have greater representation from people who have more free time and money. If you're working two jobs for 60+ hours a week to keep a roof over your head you're hardly going to worry about the latest trendy hop variety, are you? There's a reason supermarkets can sell a case of beer for a tenner whilst estate pubs are closing.

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    1. Absolutely. If you are raising 2 kids on a poor paying job & working, do you buy artisinal smelly cheese from the farmers market only open saturday morning or go down Tesco open all the time and buy what the kids are not going to turn their nose up at?

      The bourgeois really cannot expect those with more important concerns to worry about supporting artisinal craft brewing when after a long day, kids in bed, that glass of affordable Aldi vino plonko is waiting.

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  8. All the hand wringing bull of the craft commentariat has more to do with middle class prosperity guilt than actually wanting working class people to participate in their hobby. Actual working-class people and their colourful opinions horrify most of them.

    One of the best recent examples is in the efforts of celeb chefs of the Fernley-Gobshite & Jamie Fat Tongue ilk in trying to get the working class to copy their posh example. After making a tidy quid gentrifying the peasant food of Italy and selling it for top dollar to people with more money than sense they then try and foist it on those they see as plebs. If only they’d stop eating chicken nuggets.

    They reveal their nastiness when the plebs don’t swallow it. I remember Fernleys chicken campaign. I remember watching it and agreeing with it and thinking yes animal welfare is something I can afford, and I should buy better welfare meat. Then in the last episode he pounced on the single mother in Tesco when she bought a regular chicken and berated her.

    After she’d listening to his position, saw it for herself, learnt to boil chicken bones to make a frugal broth, she decided despite her not having millions her kids were as entitled to a chicken dinner as anyone’s and bought a chicken she could afford. I remember that was when Hugh got nasty.

    And its when the crafties get nasty. When someone that works harder for fewer quids decides that actually £6 for a third of murky muck isn’t as good a value as what a fiver will get you down the bargain booze.

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    1. Ethelred The Unsteady16 February 2018 at 19:13

      Cookie, old flower.

      "Crafties get nasty"? Ah, you mean those thuggish types with the EU flag tattooed on their shaven neckless heads, alongside "Lib Dems" and "Craft Ale" you mean?

      Yep, better watch out for 'em eh?

      (The first couple of comments are mine too. Thanks for the new guidelines Mudge)

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    2. Oh eye, petal.

      Can’t think of a nastier response than the remoaners after making a poor case for their argument and when losing deciding that their opponents were thick uneducated racists and that they hoped as they were old they’d die off. Quite horrible & nasty many of these middle class liberal types. You rarely meet more unpleasant people than guardian readers.

      I don’t think they learnt to lose with grace. That sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you do both without throwing a tantrum.

      I don’t know why Fernley Gobshites tantrum stays in my mind. The TV show was years ago. Maybe because at the time I agreed with him and he did win over every one but one of the public that appeared and most of us that watched except this one woman who he treated like dirt at the very end.

      Of interest regarding his chicken campaign. For a short time, sales of free range eggs and chickens increased. Then they fell off again. Then the big evil Tesco was kicked in the nuts not by a chain of Fernleys organic quinoa shops but by the even cheaper chickens of Aldi. Eventually I got over it and returned to the KFC.

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    3. @Ethelred - how about the thuggish rentamob types who seem determined to howl down free speech, as we saw recently with Jacob Rees-Mogg?

      "Thanks for the new guidelines Mudge"

      You don't seem to have fully digested them, though. But I'm happy to let you carry on spouting abuse into the ether.

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    4. Cookie, the chicken thing stuck in my mind too; essentially because H F-W seemed to forget that working people on a lower income can't afford to pay double for what is essentially the same product, but with principles. Just like that t**t Oliver, pontificating (and worst of all, being a hypocrite) to people on a tiny fraction of his income who have very different priorities to a wealthy celebrity chef, like working 40 or more hours a week and having to support a family on potentially low wages. I would say however, that the Telegragh lot can easily match the Guardian readers any time :-). Simple answer is that there's nasty, narrow-minded, selfish people of all political persuasions.

      I'm not going to go too much on politics, Mudgie, as we'll likely disagree, but the Reese-Mogg thing isn't clear-cut, and I can't help but wonder if it was deliberately engineered *shrug* . I despair of politicians, across the spectrum.

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    5. Thanks for proving with your recent tweet, to my satisfaction, that you are a cynical liar, Curmudgeon.

      My comments are all written in polite language, and any reasonable person would recognise them as joining, or trying to enliven, in good humour, your blog. The fact that you only publish those few, where you spot some opportunity to score a point is telling.

      No one would describe them as "howling abuse".

      You, like that Councillor from Cullingworth, and all the other transparent dissemblers, are welcome to try to spread division for your Tory masters. There's little point my brightening the dreary, repetitive earnestness of your cover topics with my presence.

      Good day.

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    6. (one of) The problem(s) with middle class "liberal" type wankers is that they believe that nyone who disagrees with them just needs to be educated - And then the scales will fall & they'll realise the wankers were right all along.

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    7. Speaking as middle class liberal wanker I am quite happy for people who disagree with me to continue to disagree with me. Especially if we can have some good craik about it.

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    8. I have chosen to publish the above comment from ETU aka "Ethelred the Unsteady" as it reveals a whole lot more about him than it does about me.

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  9. The other Mudgie !16 February 2018 at 19:38

    “To a working-class beer drinker, Peroni is aspirational. Cloudwater is something beamed down from another planet” and smoothflow is the normal tipple, yet all too many active CAMRA members really think that EVERY pub goer, just like themselves, only wants Cloudwater.
    We are told that if the Revitalisation proposals are accepted “CAMRA will be able to represent all beer drinkers and pubgoers, irrespective of what they drink” but the opposite would be the case as the emphasis would be all the more on the severely hopped extreme beers just of interest to us middle class beer enthusiasts.

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  10. This is the trouble with modern Britain; too many people still fixated with class. It's the 21st Century for heaven's sake, so surely it's time to stop this obsession and stop trying to pigeon-hole people.

    Being hung up on what class you belong too has hamstrung the nation for far too long, and posts like this Mudge only perpetuate the "class" nonsense.

    We're all people and we're all citizens, both of the UK and also of the world. Let's stop pinning labels on people; labels which only perpetuate the class myth and serve to divide us from our fellow man (and woman).

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    1. But it's the identity politics of the Left that insist on putting people into categories and then denigrating those who don't tick the right boxes.

      Craft brewer: "We really need to reach out to women, and the disabled, and the LGBT community, and people of colour. Even - shudder - the working class."

      "Eww, are you sure about that last one, Tarquin?"

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    2. Identity politics is pretty much the antithesis of class analysis.

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    3. Identity politics is the bane of a lot of Twitter commenters. We all know some have tapped out. For a lot, it's not worth the hassle

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  11. Cookie has indeed nailed it, especially with the celebrity chef bullshitters and their holier than thou shit, but in this thread there's a danger of aligning working class with broadly right-wing, less academically educated (but probably skilled) labour, football, stella, and white vans, like some working-class theme park exhibit.

    I consider myself working class; I have no choice but to work for my money. I live in an average suburb of a large town in a smallish house my wife and I worked hard to buy. My parents had enough money to keep us but not hundreds to spare as we grew up. I have enough income to afford to drnk in the pub if I want.

    I eat the kind of food the chefs, restaurant critics, and public health sneer at, but I'll eat in a genuinely good restaurant for a special occasion, and I try to be a bit healthier at times.

    I drink beer of all types, I drink in pubs from grotty backstreet keg-only boozers to gastropubs, and all points in between. My point? Not sure, but Matt's comment above hasn't nailed it: you can't align house ownership, reading The Guardian, being a teacher, or voting leave with any class. One of the most successful campaigns of previous governments was convincing people that they were middle class because they could afford a semi-detached, a foreign holiday, and a 3 year old car. As to social housing, that's been (sadly) decimated.

    Another assumption that is wrong is that working class=less disposable income. we're underestimating the income a hard-working scaffolder (for example) could make in a week. Probably more than the allegedly middle-class civil servant (and as I have family in the civil service, I'd consider the middle-class allegation wrong too).

    Back to the beer. In my (very working-class) local, there's 2-3 ales on , and a couple of lagers. Probably 2/3 of the customers drink lager, but the ale sells, to all types of customers, and it's still comfortably below the £3 point (for reference, the lager is around £3). I don't care what people drink; I'll happily go for a pint with my neigbour and he'll drink Carling, I'll drink ale, if it's available.

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    1. I actually agree with you there, Stymaster. The point I was making, probably badly, is that reading the Guardian, liking craft beer, owning your own house/a car, going on foreign holidays etc. doesn't mean you're middle-class if the money for all that is earned by working 9-5 for wages whether on a building site or in an office, and neither does driving a white van, drinking Stella and reading the Sun make you working-class if you've got you're own business and set your own hours and pay rate.

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    2. Now, I reckon you have nailed it :-)

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    3. @Matt- don't agree at all. Class is far more than just income. It also encompasses occupational category, broader family connections and cultural identity. As Cookie says, "What you can say for certain is that class is not just income. It’s identity & culture & education & for want of a better expression, tribe."

      And I'd say the number of actual working-class people who buy the Guardian is vanishingly small.

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    4. Never said it had anything to do with income - some skilled workers like train drivers earn far more than people who run small businesses on tight margins such as many pub landlords - what makes you working-class is working for someone else for wages to earn a living.

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    5. The number of PEOPLE who buy the Guardian is vanishingly small lol.

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    6. But to describe anyone who is an employee as "working-class" goes completely against the normal use of the term and effectively renders it meaningless.

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    7. The only people who seriously argue that anyone who is an employee is middle class are student-politics wanker types desperate for a bit of street cred.

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    8. So a banker on a seven figure salary is working class because he works for some-one on an eight figure salary. And I was elevated from working class to middle class when I retired from a senior engineering post, working for a large concern. Give over!

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    9. @kevin webster - surely you mean "The only people who seriously argue that anyone who is an employee is working class"

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    10. David, your banker isn't working-class, firstly because his remuneration is likely to be made up of share options and other non-cash perks, rather than simply the wages paid to workers, and secondly, and more importantly, what he's doing doesn't really count as work in the sense of creating something useful rather than playing with the money created by others. Most pensioners are working-class because the contributions they've made to and the benefits they receive from State and occupational pension schemes are effectively just deferred wages, the only ones who aren't are those whose main income in retirement comes from property and other investments.

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    11. There's the thing: Cookie's right (again), along with others: class is less meaningful these days, the lines are blurred, and it's harder to define. A chap down the road from me drives a white van, follows football, drinks stella, and voted leave, but he's got a good income from his own company, chooses his on hours (within reason) and is a company director employing staff. His roots and attitude are working class, but he can't possibly be- he's a director ;-). It just doesn't work if you try to apply any rules, at least not if we try to use the old working/middle/upper divisions.

      @kevin: The number of people buying The Guardian is increasingly small, along with all the other papers. I've not bought a newspaper in well over a year. As Egon Spengler said "print is dead".

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    12. Yep, that's what I meant lol.

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  12. I do think the clear divide between working class and middle class has broken down, but there's still plenty of snobbery to go around. I'm from a working class background as are a lot of my friends, but many of them read the Guardian, voted Remain, etc. They also talk about 'those people' - the oiks - other working class people really, but 'ignorant' or 'misguided' ones. It seems as though class now is about whether or not you subscribe to a certain agenda - leftwing, PC, internationalist, feminist, environmentalist, anti-racist etc - which supposedly distinguishes you as a better class of person, regardless of your origins, what school you went to, what job you do etc. It's aspirational, and craft beer fits into that somewhere. There are those who go along with it and others who just say bollocks to it and do what they like - which can include traditionally 'middle-class' people - just about the only person I know who voted Leave and is totally un-PC is a 'posh' chap who owns a restaurant . . .

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  13. There’s whole academic articles on what class means in the 21 century. One had it that there were 11 classes. What you can say for certain is that class is not just income. It’s identity & culture & education & for want of a better expression, tribe.

    Like Mudge I would have difficulty making a case that I was working class. I work but haven’t actually needed to for about a decade. I work because I like it and it gives me an identity and purpose. But having been raised by a working-class family and enjoying a wonderful childhood I am protective of any notion that working-class people are vulgar scummers. To be born northern and working class is to among gods blessed children.

    But you know, as they say. Class is to the English what wine is to the French or sausages to the Germans. Our obsession with class is going nowhere and I am working class whether you agree with that or not. I’m having that put on a t shirt.

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    1. In societies that are supposedly more "classless" than ours, the markers of class may be less overt, but they are still very much there. The Americnas have rednecks and Joe Sixpack, the Aussies have bogans and ockers.

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    2. Ethered The Unsteady17 February 2018 at 08:37

      My social and professional profile parallels yours pretty closely Cookie, and you paraphrase part of one of my comments which didn't appear.

      If Mudge will permit the question, and in view of Cookie's comment, can I ask why he attributes Identity Politics foremost to the Left?

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  14. The best riposte to the whole concept of identity politics came from Martin Luther King when he said "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

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    1. However, MLK could only hope to achieve this state through an identity based political movement. The civil rights movement came into being when other political movements would not act upon the issues of segregation.

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  15. Beer prices in St Albans aren't quite as high as in London but knocking on the window. Each time I go to the WaterEnd Barn - St Albans' only Wetherspoons pub - I see people of retirement age and people I would guess are on low income or minimum wage including customers from eastern Europe. The point is, it's the only place in St Albans where folk can actually afford to drink and eat if they're on low wages or just pulling a state pension. Because of that the demographics are markedly different from the customers in other pubs who are generally white, educated, landed etc so I think it's true that craft beer and even pubs in general have become middle class. Add to that the amount of times you hear of a pair taking early retirement from a banking job in the city to start up their own brewery under a railway arch and we've got some real gentrification going on.

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    1. The other Mudgie !17 February 2018 at 17:18

      Ah, yes, “ a pair taking early retirement from a banking job in the city to start up their own brewery under a railway arch”, not that they need to make any money from it but it’s something they’ve wanted to do for years.
      And it’s not as if we need any more breweries, not like forty years ago when pubs might not have been able find much good beer, and so they justify themselves by saying that they “are trying to bring in more women, working-class people and people with disabilities to both drink beers and make them”.

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    2. There always been vanity businesses. For so long as people who can afford not to work decide that a life of leisure is unfulfilling and occupy themselves commercially. What is interesting is what we collectively decide is virtuous. Someone volunteering for charity (maybe not Oxfam) is generally considered virtuous. I remember a story about a retired engineer that saw a documentary about Africa and how radios were a tool of education, but people couldn’t afford batteries. So, he went in his shed and invented a wind-up radio. He set up a company to send radios to Africa. I bought one of his radios as I thought it was a great story and a virtuous thing and wanted to support him. It’s in my bathroom with batteries in as I can’t be arsed winding it up. But it was that guys vanity and decision that the world may have retired him, but he wasn’t ready to retire that created a public good.

      There’s gentleman farmers that believe in animal welfare. Prince Charles is one of them. Him and his 5 quid packets of organic biscuits are not in the real sense a commercial outfit. It’s a vanity business but people like to support it. And actually his biscuits are nice if not worth a fiver.

      What is it about a brewery that is virtuous and would cause me to suspend my normal opinion of price & value to support Tarquin in his desire to live his dream and run a brewery? I’m not badly off but I’m not as well off as a retired city trader who is sick of the square mile. I get that if he makes something I like, and think is worth what he’s charging I might put my hand in my pocket. What is virtuous about his endeavour that means I should seek to support him? Furthermore, why should a low wage hospital porter put his hand in his pocket to support a retired city trader living his dream?

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  16. Ah, class.

    A bit tangential but, if I may, here's something to chew on:

    "In our own lifetime, we have witnessed the same phenomenon in the U.S.A. and Britain. When these nations were at the height of their glory, Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge seemed to meet their needs. Now almost every city has its university. The ambition of the young, once engaged in the pursuit of adventure and military glory, and then in the desire for the accumulation of wealth, now turns to the acquisition of academic honours."

    The above is from Sir John Glubb's "The Fate of Empires". A short (24 page) PDF that is online for free:

    http://people.uncw.edu/kozloffm/glubb.pdf

    We are basically following a cycle. To put it into a short explanation:

    Hard times create strong men
    Strong men create good times
    Good times create weak men
    Weak men create hard times

    Sound familiar? ;)

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very good Mudge! :)

      He was a bit, um, out there in other things, but in my opinion, a lot of what he writes in The Fate of Empires has a ring of truth to it.

      Your mileage may vary, of course. :-)

      Delete
  17. What's really going on is that the people and businesses in the Guardian article are trying to create new markets for their products by 'reaching out' to possible consumers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So craft beer is aiming to appeal to smug middle-class virtue signallers? Who knew?

      Delete
    2. No,they have identified a possible market and decided to sell to it,they are behaving no differently to any other businesses over the last 2500 years

      Delete
  18. Lost a bit in both the discussion about class and the overblown polemics of the ex-RCP cadres at Spiked Online is the very valid point in the first paragraph about the current commemoration of 1918 focussing largely on middle-class women getting the vote rather than working-class men, which tells you a lot about the class background of most politicians, academics and journalists.

    ReplyDelete
  19. If class is cultural as well as economic (ie you allow well off people to call themselves working class), then the working classes are already drinking craft beer. Unless they aren't into craft beer. If that's the case then you can try and get them into it, but don't tell me you are doing anything other than flog your beer.

    Also i'll make the point, although I can guess Cookie will disagree, that brewing and selling any beer is bloody hard work and about as blue collar as you can get.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is a limit to how far people can go in self-identifying as working class, though.

      Delete
    2. Not sure I would disagree. I was tempted to interject with Stymaster & Matts definitions, but it was more interesting to just read what they said. I did think a notable difference has to be whether work is a necessity or choice. That work itself, hard or otherwise, does not make you working class.

      I think brewing might benefit from the distinctions used in farming between Gentleman farmers and Commercial farmers. I’d be more inclined to accept the working-class status of a brewery owner if they had invested their own self-made life savings and commercial success mattered. Less inclined to accept Rupert whose Dad has bought him a brewery to play at craft brewer whilst hoping he does something more productive with his life. Or Tarquin pissing away his inheritance.

      If I was to be self-serving I would ask to form a definition that did not exclude me from being working class. Something along the lines of qualifying to play football for Ireland. You can play for Ireland if you’re Irish or your parents or grandparents were Irish. So I and others could still qualify to play for our chosen team on the basis of our parents. That would suit me.

      You might also ask why anyone would wish to identify as working class, like why English people want to pretend they are Irish. I would say, look at the state of the sanctimonious middle-class liberals who claim to want a class free world whilst also fixing the game in their own favour. I’m any tribe that’s not that lot. Give me a white van and a pint of Stella any day of the week.

      If we should design the world to make people happy then somebody should be able to enjoy success and prosperity and still be able to call themselves working class if they choose to do so. Except it’s an exclusive club and we don’t let just anyone in.

      Delete
    3. Fair enough. I get what you're saying. And lets not forget we are all rich compared to some poor buggers.

      Delete
    4. Cookie, I'm agreeing with you too much. Not totally, obviously, but too much for comfort. You'll have to stop, can you get back to gentle trolling?

      Oh, and FWIW, my favourite local brewery (in an industrial unit!) is very definitely the working-class run type, not a Rupert one.

      Delete
  20. If you want a prime example of beer bloggers disappearing up their own holes of virtue-siganlling look no further than Boak and Bailey.
    This week it's a black woman recounting her experience in the " beer scene. "
    Last week it was " progressive breweries and inclusiveness."
    A couple of weeks ago it was an account of the life of a transgender bloke/transwoman/whatever in the UK beer industry.
    And of course they salivate like Guardian readers over a mung bean stew when Melissa Cole delivers another epistle on the evils of sexist beer fonts.
    I'm sure there's a niche market for this kind of tosh but it's not a topic of conversation I ever come across in a pub.
    Maybe that's why they drink as a pair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now Now. Beer people are good people.

      Delete
    2. Alright Syd me old son, what newspaper do you read then?

      Delete
    3. Times,Guardian(good sports coverage),Sydney Morning Herald,New York Times,LA Times,New Statesman,Spectator and Evening Standard.
      Yourself?

      Delete
    4. Just the Leicester Mercury pal (good sports coverage, of the best team of all time).
      Doesn't reading so widely make you less inclined to stereotype readers of any one of those? Especially the lazy Guardian bashing, come on man.

      Delete
    5. Of course nobody on the Left ever engages in lazy stereotyping of Daily Mail readers, do they?

      Delete
    6. Yes they do, of course, and it's wrong.

      Delete
  21. Some more light shone on the subject of identity politics:

    Labour needs to drop identity politics

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suppose that the left calling Trump a fascist is about as accurate as the right wing press calling Corbyn a Marxist.

      Delete
    2. Except that Corbyn admits to being a Marxist.

      Delete
    3. A type of self-awareness we cannot expect from Trump.

      Delete
    4. When did Corbyn admit to being a Marxist?

      Delete
  22. Everything's relative.
    The Sandalista Twitchforks demand justice and resignations when Damian Green has legal porn on his computer and briefly touches the knee of a woman.
    But unite in sympathy and support for the " journey " that serial sex pest Brendan Cox is going on after being kicked out of one charity and resigning from the two set up in memory of his dead MP wife for grabbing a woman by the throat and demanding sex.
    I'm sure he was probably pissed on craft beer at the time.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Heh. I've had it with Labour. Mostly because Keith Vaz is still an MP. When Corbyn first came along I thought he was sound, but I don't like Momentum, and he seems to have the western guilt thing going on, and he's crap on europe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jezza is consistent on Europe.
      The trouble is most of the bedwetters who've joined in the last two years are too thick to understand this.
      That's down to Tony Blair encouraging people to go to university ( mostly glorified polytechnics ) when really they should be being taught how to handle a spanner or push a brush around.

      Delete
    2. I said I've had it with Labour, meaning he's been crap on europe, for me... consistently crap.

      Delete
    3. Being a closet Brexiteer is about his only redeeming feature.

      Delete
  24. It must be great to say i want to go to work,but do not need to.
    I can not go to work due to ill health but need to to get money,been refused PIP payment while layed up in hospital for seven weeks,but we did get a McMillon grant which payed for my wifes bus fares to hospital.
    We have lived week to week years ago and now month to month,with my income now halfed and no chance of going back to work for at least six months while i go through treatment.
    This is what it is like to be proper working class when things go wrong through no fault of your own.
    Not very good is it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you won the lottery tomorrow, would you then consider yourself to be middle class?
      (genuine question)

      Delete
    2. The other Mudgie !21 February 2018 at 14:05

      Alan,
      I've been off work from my unskilled job for ten months so have been on half pay for four months but that doesn't make me feel any more working class.
      I thought half pay meant half pints but that was a daft idea as we all drink two halves faster than we drink a proper whole pint.

      Delete
    3. Go on then, Al. We'll let you in the working class club. You're in. You're only allowed to bring Mudge in as a visitor and guest so long as accompanied. He ain't joining.

      Delete

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