Tag Archives: Polly Toynbee

Toynbee or not Toynbee?

The daily circulation of the Sun newspaper is just over 3 million, closely followed by the Daily Mail at 2.14 million with the once-great Daily Mirror at a struggling 1.2million.

At the other end of the scale ( below the Daily Star and the Daily Record) , the Guardian limps in at 275,000 and the Independent at 185,000.

The Times, Financial Times, Guardian and Independent , together with the Daily Record  represent the bottom 5.

So who is writing for whom? What differentiates the Guardian from say, the Sun? Which is the more influential?

The reader ship can be split into three main groups:

1. Those who believe everything they read

2. Those who no longer believe anything

3. Those who critically examine what they read and form their judgments accordingly.

The above groupings are important because the decision as to who , for instance governs the country,  is in the gift of the numerically strongest group –  the first one.

It is the Sun and Mail readers who call the shots.

The thick and the credulous have inherited the power to make or break governments.

Here in the United Kingdom, the whole ‘mix’ is further complicated by the once-trendy but now dead-hand of the Oxbridge Socialists. The ones who feed  the Guardian and Independent readers.

During Tony Blair’s tenure, these middle-class ‘Beau monde’ Socialists had their admirers. They were even briefly identified as ‘Champagne Socialists’. Teachers, middle managers, council white-collar workers and media people decided that the new Beau Monde Socialism was for them.  After all, Chief Druid Blair was from a middle-class public-school Tory background, so it had to be OK for the aspirational classes to think of themselves as ‘Socialist’. For a while, the bandwagon creaked.

Now that Blair has disappeared, the High Priests and  Priestesses of Beau Monde Socialism are beginning to struggle because it is now perfectly acceptable to be and think like a modern Conservative.

Now they are neither Socialist nor Conservative.  Nevertheless, they should be identified as a unique political species.

The collapse in the Guardian and Independent readership  has been largely driven by the very transparent insincerity of that particular flavour of Beau Monde Socialism whose roots developed  around   heavy  pine kitchen tables and  Notting Hill Agas.  This posh Socialism was nothing to do with the working classes.  It was (and still is) merely a rib ripped from the side of traditional Socialism.

In the 70s and 80s , Beau Monde Socialism developed in the intellectually-castrated Oxbridge canteens and cafes where second-hand ideas led to a third-rate pretend- ideology .

This Elito-Socialism, as for instance practised by Oxford dropout and occasional Guardian Columnist Polly Toynbee already feels a bit anachronistic and is certainly out-of-touch with the far less polarised political thinking of today.

Last week, for instance, Ms Toynbee wrote a convoluted piece on ‘chavs’. Her primary purpose was to weave in a couple of book ‘plugs’ but the poor old dear nevertheless managed to show how completely out-of-touch  she is with modern word usage and the current social scene.  She wrote as if the word ‘chav’ was a class-insult aimed at the poor.

Fifteen years ago she may have been right but nowadays the word is used as a mild insult which merely flags-up a lack of style or possibly bad behaviour.

It would seem that Elito-Socialism froze solid in the mid-90s. Modern Elito-Socialists should sometimes look-up from their Ipads and Macbooks to listen and see rather than surmise and sermonise.

Theirs  is not the ‘dirty hands’ socialism of the Welsh miner. That seemed so uncomplicated just 50 years ago. This is a Socialism borne of Chardonnay-fuelled discussion and  the over-intellectualisation of borrowed (proper) socialist views which have somehow mutated into comfortable middle-class chatter – but always with a decent shot of Guardian-spawned pseudo-intellect and the odd hand-made metaphor.

Instead of a defence of Workers’ rights, you are far more likely to hear Chomsky, Engels or Howard Zinn slip into the conversation. The substance is in the discussion and the end-product is the misconstructed and often fallacious idea.

It was refreshing to have clear evidence of this dying and once never-noble political breed.

Meanwhile, the Sun reader grunts as he runs his finger along the words.  Polly who?

( I would have added that Middle-of-the-Road Liberal Conservatism is the new Black but Ms Toynbee may have accused me of racism.)