Working class and aristocracy must reconcile
Earlier, of course, the boot was on the other foot. It was the aristocracy which mocked and caricatured the working-class
On TV, in films and plays, and in modern novels, aristocrats are always portrayed as the villains of the piece: rapacious, cruel and black-hearted. The lady of the manor in the BBC drama series Cranford was no exception. At least until the last programme she might have been a villainess in pre-revolutionary France.
Nor is it only in fiction that English nobs are vilified. Only last week on TV I also saw the left-wing MP, Denis Skinner, declaring his undying hatred of the House of Lords. No other section of society is so relentlessly mocked and caricatured.
Earlier, of course, the boot was on the other foot. It was the aristocracy which mocked and caricatured the working-class. In the middle of the 20th century, however, that all changed. The narrative started to be re-written so that the working-class got its fair share of the national heritage starring roles. Quite right too, but not to the present point where the aristocracy gets no credit at all.
In other areas, however, forgiveness, followed by reconciliation, is very much in vogue: Jews and Germans, blacks and whites in Africa, Protestants and Catholics in Ireland, and in each case what facilitated this blessed process was a joint effort, by the injured as much as the perpetrators of the injury, to see the other side’s point of view.
Surely it is time for the class war enemies in Britain to do the same. Undoubtedly the rich and poor still have good reasons to fight. Today's capitalist triumphalism has seen to that. But the aristocracy – and the House of Lords in particular – is no longer part of that war. Indeed, if allowed to do so, they would gladly stand shoulder to shoulder with the plebs against the monstrous menace of new moneymen. ·
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