David Cameron’s mother has come out as a champion of the junior doctors in their quarrel with the government. At Prime Minister’s Questions today, Cameron was twitted about this. (Not by Corbyn. He refuses to get ‘personal’.) His reply: ‘Ask my mother? I think I know what my mother would say. I think she’d look across the dispatch box and she’d say: put on a proper suit, do up your tie and sing the national anthem.’ Conservative MPs behind him hooted with delight. They’d been behaving pretty badly all week, on another occasion yelling soccer hooligan chants at Corbyn. As one who – as everyone who knows me will agree – is a poor dresser, who doesn’t even possess a suit, or at least one that will fit me, that warmed me even more to Corbyn. Maybe snappy dressing isn’t one of his top priorities, as it clearly is one of Cameron’s and his Mater’s. It also showed up the Tories for the immature public-school jerks they are, and must, surely, have alienated most of the rest of us who actually saw the exchange on the BBC Parliament channel. I remembered reading that Keir Hardie was given exactly the same harrumphing treatment when he first turned up to the Commons in a flat cap. I must say I was filled with a deep feeling of what can only be described as class hostility.
Which is rare in my case, and in fact is usually, I think, more a characteristic of the upper and upper-middle classes – especially the nouveaux – than it is of those ‘beneath’ them. This is what Owen Jones’s Chavs is about. Thatcher was consumed by hatred of the ‘lower’ classes and their values. So, clearly, are Cameron and Osborne. I’ve had an unusually wide experience of many of the classes of English society: from my poor working-class grandparents, through my lower-middle class parents, to the rich boys and genuine nobs I rubbed shoulders with – quite amicably; they were very tolerant of me – at Cambridge. The worst were the ones I met as a Fellow of my college on ‘high table’. Some of them were so arrogant and antediluvian in their opinions – however brilliant they may have been at science or Greek – to make me want to leave that beautiful place; which at length I did. I remember thinking that no-one would believe me if I told about them. It was beyond belief. I see it again in Cameron and Osborne. Ghastly people. Please God (or that Great Collective in the Sky), deliver us. Soon.