Class warfare and other complete and utter wastes of time and energy

I FELT strangely depressed yesterday on reading this over at LabourList. That in this day and age we can still have this kind of “debate” in the Labour Party is incredibly dispiriting.

I mean, come on! A maximum wage!? And it’s not just left-wingers who betray this level of disengagement from reality: many right-wing and Tory-supporting commenters on this site have, over the months, left barbed and pointed comments expressing their resentment that Tony Blair is earning many millions of pounds a year. Good for him, say I.

And while we’re at it, good for Geoff Hoon for hiring a private tutor for his daughter. Any decent parent would do the same, and I certainly would, without hesitation or apology, if I felt any of my sons would benefit from it.

So there.



Filed under Blogging, Society

29 responses to “Class warfare and other complete and utter wastes of time and energy

  1. Simon

    Lol!. The left just get loonier.

    Speaking for myself, I don’t begrudge TB his millions nor GH his private tutor. What I do resent is the hypocrisy of saying one thing and doing another.

    As you say, any decent parent wants the best education for their child, so why do you want to abolish grammar schools which consistently offer the best education for those unable to afford private tuition ?

    And if labour really want to help the lowest paid, why abolish the 10p tax band ?

  2. Jim Baxter

    I haven’t noticed that anyone on the right grudges someone making millions as a result of their honest efforts. The trouble is that Blair is making millions on the basis of his counterfeit personality for which many feel that the country is now suffering in so many ways. He is a confidence trickster, utterly charming and plausible, as all successful confidence tricksters have to be, but empty of any principle that does not further his own interests. What grates, to put it mildly, he that he is living in great comfort and security while those he sent to war are earning peanuts for placing their lives at great risk without the equipment that they need to do their jobs and without the best protection that money and concern for their welfare can provide.

    It;s a similar story with Hoon. He is part of a governement than many of us belive to have presided over the further disintegration of our education system. Anyone who can should of course get the best for their children to save them from the chaos and dangers that afflict in so many of our schools. But Hoon is not just anyone. He is part of the cause of the problem faced by equally concerned parents who happen to lack his resources to lift their children free of it.

  3. pr roger j clementine iii cbe

    I never had a private tutor at all when I was growing up.

    What are you saying about my parents, Tam?

    *waits in anticipation*

  4. Quentin

    Quite agree Tom, can’t have a maximum wage now.

    Our nations survive mostly on greed and avarice.

    Unfortunately your government has let it get out of hand, and it’s getting impossible to fix it.

    The crowds are beginning to get very restless as we spiral downwards economically.

    They won’t like the pain that’s coming.

    Oh dear……….

  5. jane

    I am always astonished when people criticise Tony Blair. I sometimes wonder whether it is because it is a former Labour PM earning a large income that gets people rattled. Just as the continual election of a Labour government got some newspapers rattled. A case of how dare they? Do they forget that all former premiers have also earned huge sums on leaving office. Look at Margaret Thatcher and John Major. Should we not celebrate that our former PM is in demand on the world stage? Do we forget that he undertakes his Middle East role without salary? Similarly, his sports and faith foundations take up his time and is for the benefit of the wider community. He has the right to attract whatever others consider he is worth – jealousy gets one nowhere and neither does character assassination based on right wing media and not personal knowledge. I find such views abhorrent.

    The days of the wider labour party disapproving of parental choice in schooling etc have gone. I agree with some comments regarding the hypocrisy of some MPs on this subject. Diane Abbott and Harriet Harman come to mind. I have always liked HH but am beginning to reconsider my views. Her proposed policy on equality is ridiculous and I do wonder whether she is setting herself up for the Leadership of the Party when GB departs. She certainly did some u-turns to win the deputy leadership. Dianne Abbott has always criticised labour MPs who elected to send their children to selective schools. When her own son reached secondary schooling age – she did the same. A reminder that Tony Blair has never criticised any parent for doing the best for their children and I would defy anyone in a position to do so to disagree.

    I totally disagree with Mr Baxter’s comments above. He obviously forgets that Mr Blair would have earned a great deal more money as a Barrister than he did as PM and would have progressed his legal career over the years he was PM. Further, you are wrong to say that service personnel receive peanuts! I suggest that you look at the MoD site at salaries for all ranks. Too often the media quote what someone joining the services receives. A reminder that many of these young people would not be able to gain employment, receive training, are able to progress careers, are offered educational facilities etc. No other institution offers so much. I do not need to rely on journalists selective reporting – I know this, my husband is a retired military officer.

    Simon above. I will never forgive GB for removing the 10p tax band. I am one of the 1m who are still £110 worse off each year. Frank Field raised this in the Pre Budget Debate with the Chancellor and got nowhere.

    I agree with you Tom. This sort of nonsensical debate was around 40 years ago. I would have supported it then being young and idealistic!!! However the world has moved on and such debates now alienate me and indeed leave me feeling quite depressed. If it does that to me what will it do to the electorate. I am frightened with the lastest polls etc that if we lose the next election, those who propound such views will be the dominant force. What then?

  6. John

    Your stock is rising Mr Harris……

    Incidentally, your wiki page has you as more of a Brownite than a Blairite. Given your views in your last few blog posts, that’s clearly bollocks, and that’s a very good thing indeed.

    Please run for Leader of the Labour Party. By the sound of it, you are the only member of New Labour left.

    Btw, I am also impressed with you not joining in with your fellow MP’s in regurgitating Gordon Brown’s pointless bilge like sloguns. First it was “We’re getting on with the job”, every two bloody seconds, and as an answer to every bloody question. Now it’s evolved to “real help for families and businesses now”, again, every two seconds. In fact, the next Labour MP to say it will be tracked down by me and a poked in the eye with a twiglet. Do they really not realise that that stupid slogun is akin to singing “I know a song that will get on your nerves, get on your nerves, etc…”

    As I said Tom, your stock is rising. Long live New Labour!

  7. richard

    Salient point proposed by Kevin Maguire was;
    A maximum wage, based on a calculation of minimum-wage at a ratio of a maximum of 10:1
    (e.g. highest wage allowable = £35K).

    Words actually fail me to describe the utter cluelessness of this proposal. I can only presume that Mr Maguire is either a Marxist or a moron and is very possibly both.

  8. In fairness, the maximum wage proposal did seem to be a comedy one. I’m sure Maguire mentioned anti-evasion paramilitary squads at some point.

    The other thing is that it wasn’t even actually a maximum wage, it was more a tying of minimum wages to the wage at the top; a kind of left-Rawlsian proposal.

  9. Jim Baxter


    All things are relative. I’d say it’s peanuts for the job they do, as are the salaries we pay our frontline, i.e. junior, police officers. Affluent people frequently simply cannot grasp how hard it is to live on modest incomes and tend to assume, from their comfortable circumstances, that those worse off than they are must be awfully greedy to want more money. It’s such dirty stuff, such a dirty word.

    Blair would have been unlikely to make the kind of money he is making now even as a top-flight barrister, and he certainly would not have had the power and influence that he has enjoyed and still enjoys. I use enjoys in more thna one sense. I didn’t accuse him of lacking foresight.

  10. madasafish

    I am not surprised in any way.
    Hypocrites and incompetents rarely see the incongruity and illogicality of their actions.

    And if the Conservative Party ois full of money grubbing MPs out for their own fincial gain from the House of Commons expenses system. Labour is full of hypocrites.

    Hypocrisy is of course defined as “Do as I say, not as I do”.

    But the Labour Party has hardly changed in that regard since Denis Healey’s “tax the rich till the pips squeak” whilst his own Leader (Callghan) retired to become a very rich farmer.

    I defend the right of every parent to do the best for their children. I strongly object to political attempts to prevent others doing the same..

  11. I don’t know Labour like you do, Tom, but the Fabian conference proposal sounds like a joke. Perhaps Fabians don’t joke. I suppose it’s a bit like UKIP suggesting the French pay an entrance tax on embarkation in the UK.

    You know, much as I think the Fabians are loonies, I believe in thinking the unthinkable. Politics in this country has agglomerated around a dismal confederacy of the bland, a refuge of weathervane pragmatists and tutus without an original thought between them, that we need new, fresh ideas. This is not one of them that will fly, obviously, but I am sort of glad someone felt confident enough to mention it.

    As for Hoon, he is just as hypocritical about education as the rest of you. You want our kids to go to crap schools, but not yours. You have created this situation where, if somone puts their kids first, they are pilloried.

    You were saying how middle class everyone wants to be and how Labour are embracing the idea. Well, there was a time when kids from poorer homes could get an assisted place to an independent school, if that kid showed promise and ability. The first thing Tony (education, education, education, ) Blair did when he came to power was to abolish the scheme.

    It’s very sweet that Blair (Fettes) Harman (St Paul’s) Darling (Loretto) Ed Balls and Geoff Hoon (Nottingham High School – independent fee paying), with the benefit of their privileged education, want the rest of us to suffer.

    And there is an irony is there not, that Ken Clarke, of whom we are all excited about, went to the very same school as Balls. Except that then, it was a direct grant school. Had he been born a few years later, he most certainly could not have afforded to attend because this stream of funding was abolished by Labour in the 1970’s.

    So, one by one, all the ways that a child with ablility, perhaps a future Cabinet Minister, could make his way out of the ghetto, have been dismantled by Labour.

    There was a time when a child from a poor home could aspire to a good education. Not anymore. Perhaps that Fabian who has elicited such outrage from you was merely telling the world what Labour’s world view really is. Perhaps the answer is to simply stop people doing well, and then it will look like you have narrowed the gap between rich and poor. Clever. I wish I had thought of that.

  12. Wrinkled – you’re perpetuating a downright lie by claiming that children from poor families can no longer get a good education. I will send my own kids to the local state comprehensive because they will get as good an education there as at any nearby fee-paying private school.

    As for the assisted places scheme – if only it had benefited as many poorer families as intended! Anyone who could afford to hire a decent accountant could easily contrive to appear “needy” enough to have their kids qualify for that scheme.

  13. Simon

    “I will send my own kids to the local state comprehensive because they will get as good an education there as at any nearby fee-paying private school.”

    I guess if Geoff Hoon felt the same he wouldn’t be paying for a private tutor.

    Interesting taht you chosse to pick up on just this point though. Does that mean you agree that Grammar Schools consistently offer the best education for those unable to afford private tuition, and therefore shouldn’t be banned. Do you agree that Diane Abbott and Harriet Harman are hypocrites ? Do you agree that the 10p tax brand shouldn’t have been abolished ?

  14. Jim Baxter

    ‘I will send my own kids to the local state comprehensive because they will get as good an education there as at any nearby fee-paying private school’.

    You don’t live in Denistoun do you Tom? The staff are Whitehill are magnificent I believe, they have my utmost respect. But I wouldn’t want my kids to go there. How about Easterhouse? If you were the local MP would you send your kids to the local school there? Again, no disrespect is intended to the staff of schools there or to decent citizens living there and to decent children.

  15. pr roger j clementine iii cbe

    Jim Baxter

    Speaking as a Catholic who is from the Greater Easterhouse area, our ‘local school’ at secondary level is St Andrews RC Secondary School.

    “Inspectors have given an outstanding report to a school in one of Glasgow’s most disadvantaged areas.

    St Andrew’s Secondary in Carntyne received a better report than one issued last week to private school, Hutchesons’ Grammar. ”

    So you can take your poorly disguised snobbery about the east end, and stick it!

  16. wrinkled weasel

    It cannot be denied that some state schools are brilliant, and out perform fee-payers, but they do that by attracting skilled teachers and creating the right ethos, and it is important to look at the bigger picture.

    That choice of schools and of higher education is not one every individual can make, for there are many schools that are in crisis, and despite pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into the system, Universities find that it has made no impact upon the number of entrants from poorer homes, citing, among other things, the high level of fees and debt, which tends to put them off.

    I got a grant when I studied for my degree. Who took that away? Labour did, in what Tony Benn regarded as “‘This is an erosion of the whole principle of the welfare state”, and everyone knew that it would stuff students from poorer homes when grants were abolished.

    Labour abolished higher education grants citing an inability to fund them. In hindsight, that figure was a drop in the ocean compared to the scorched earth fiscal policy of 2009.

  17. Jim Baxter

    Dear Prof,

    So, nobody living in the east-end would rather that their kids attended schools in areas not riven by territorial disputes between youth gangs then. I fully respect (there’s my poorly disguised snobbery again) loyalty to one’s community and the determination to make it better rather than to run from it. I know many people who went to school from all over Glasgow who are proud of their origins and of their schools, and rightly so. But they are not proud of problems on their streets and in their communities. Concerned, fearful, angry, passionate that things must change, yes. But not proud. I wouldn’t wish for a child of mine to have to fight the battles that they have had to fight, however much they have triumphed.

  18. Simon

    It’s interesting how it becomes snobbery when anyone criticises a state school.

  19. Johnny Norfolk

    This is why we are where we are with people like this influencing Labour policy.

  20. pr roger j clementine iii cbe

    Simon – it becomes snobbery when one makes criticisms of predominately working class areas, in my most honest and humble opinion.

    Jim Baxter – It is the view of HMI that St Andrews RC Secondary School is better that Hutchy Grammar .

    You’ll get a better standard of education at St Andrews RC Secondary School, in comparison to Hutchy Grammar.

    So, why would you want to pay thousands of pounds for your child to attend Hutchy Grammar, rather than St Andrews RC Secondary School?

    Couldn’t be that so your little darlings don’t have to mix with the hoi polloi surely?

  21. pr roger j clementine iii cbe

    Oh, and btw Tam, just as we’re talking about Easterhouse:

    We are an SNP constituency at Westminster and we WILL stay an SNP constituency at Westminster.

    So be ready for your SNEERING at John Mason MP the day after the HISTORIC by-election to come back and BITE your posterior!

    Cannae wait tae see Mags Curran’s face at the count:D

  22. Brian

    Its always interesting how people talk about more or less money for schools or good and bad catchment areas.

    Surely these people are unwilling to admit the truth, that some children are stupid/lazy. Some are born Maestros and Noble prize winners. The education of the groups are a no brainer.

    Its all about ensuring the attainment and abilities of the mid-ability children is pushed as much as possible. Having gone to a now demolished school in Coatbridge 8 years ago, and being one of the bright sparks. I always found it dishearting the lack of achievement amongst those who could acheive but never received any impetus to do so.

  23. Jim Baxter

    Dear Prof,

    Now we get to see some of your snobbery. I thought we might. People who don’t want their children getting attacked merely for working at school are people who don’t want to mix with the hoi polloi are they? Or, with your own little prejudices, do you presume that a snob like me must think that the hoi polloi are people who maybe don’t have much education themselves, who are on a low income, but who want the best for themselves, their children, and their communities? Such people, and their children, are people I would be happy to let my children mix with. Genuine people who don’t, for example, give themselves jokey names on the bases of their self-satisfied presumptions about others.

  24. pr roger j clementine iii cbe

    Jim Baxter.

    I achieved (and I use the word ‘achieved’ with good reason) 4 A’s and a B at Higher, at, *shock horror*, St Andrews RC Secondary School.

    I was never attacked.

    I fail to see where your claim that people who work at hard at state school are ‘attacked’ comes from.

    Perhaps that same part of your imagination where the kids in state schools are all sitting in corners
    injecting heroin, perhaps?

    I don’t mind if people want to send their wee ones to private schools. Good on them. Send your weans to Hutchy Grammar if you feel like it.

    Just be clear why you’re doing it.

    Don’t lie to yourselves. And certainly don’t lie to your kids.

    Yours in glory and nobility
    Pr Roger J Clementine III CBE

  25. Jim Baxter

    Dear Prof,

    I was talking hypothetically. Much more comfortable that than talking out of your a*se. Try it some time. As it happens my wee ones are adults now. And they did go to a state school. A very good one. It did them proud and they did it proud. Where do I get the claim about being attacked at school? From talking to people who were attacked at school. I’m glad it never happened to you. It happens to many others.

    I’m not the one who has the stereotypes in his imagination. You are.

  26. “Simon – it becomes snobbery when one makes criticisms of predominately working class areas, in my most honest and humble opinion.”

    No. It’s snobbery when you criticise them because they are ‘predominantly working class’ based out of prejudice. It’s not snobbery if the criticisms are correct.

    Otherwise you’ve got the bizarre notion that the social reformers were snobs because they didn’t like the conditions in the ‘predominantly working class’ factories.

  27. I would be less annoyed about Tony Blair making lots of money if he gave a bit more of it back to the Labour Party.

  28. Bella

    Vote Jim Baxter for PM!

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