Friday, February 19, 2010

People who travel first class are 'a totally different type of people'

From the perspective of those of us who travel ‘standard’, this is undoubtedly true: those in first class are wealthy, privileged and have a certain status which places them above hoi polloi – the masses of common people who constitute the backbone of the nation.

So when Sir Nicholas Winterton, who, it seems, invariably travels first class, says those who travel ‘standard’ are ‘a totally different type of people’, he is not entirely wrong. For he is part of hoi oligoi – the few who are destined to be set apart from the vulgar plebeians. He might, of course, have helped himself if he had not said ‘totally’ with such bombast or used the phrase ‘different type’, which rather suggests there is something sub-human about the herd of commoners.

And yet he is a commoner, by virtue of his membership of the House of Commons. And at the same time he is set apart from the majority as a legislator and knight of the realm (for services to Parliament, not his party), and formerly a second lieutenant in the 14th/20th King’s Hussars.

But the Conservative Party leadership have condemned Sir Nicholas for being ‘out-of-touch’, and dismissed his comments as an aberrant view of an eccentric backbencher who in a few months will no longer be an MP. We are told: ‘They do not...represent the views of David Cameron or that of the Conservative party and should be treated as such.’

And yet...

The Conservative Party’s rank and file (hoi polloi) have been subject to precisely the same criticism by a front-bencher who in a few months will be a secretary of state.

When Michael Gove refers to the ‘grumbling and rumbling’ of the Party’s ‘backwoodsmen’, he adopts precisely the same hoi oligoi attitude of Sir Nicholas. When David Cameron observes of his Party’s masses (hoi polloi) that ‘they are looking for the perfect son-in-law rather than the perfect candidate’, he too adopts the hoity-toity narrative of the ruling élite – hoi oligoi – the Tory paternalism that is not benign, but which seeks instead to impose a particular worldview upon hoi polloi because they are recalcitrant and don’t know what’s good for them: they are ‘backwoodsmen’.

According to the OED, the term has three definitions:

1. An inhabitant of backwoods
2. An uncouth person
3. A peer who very rarely attends the House of Lords

Now, Mr Gove is an intelligent man, so he cannot possibly believe that Conservative hoi polloi all dwell in the undergrowth, although they may in Surrey Heath. And neither could he possibly be referring to peers who rarely attend the House of Lords, for these, by definition, are hoi oligoi.

Which leaves ‘uncouth person’.

So a Conservative front-bench spokesman is of the view that the Conservative Party has members who are ‘lacking in ease and polish; uncultured and rough’ (OED). And these are they who oppose ‘modernisation’.

Would Mr Gove and Mr Cameron not say of these, in the words of Sir Nicholas, that they are ‘in a different walk of life’?

The reality is that while Sir Nicholas was talking about something as banal as first-class travel and being able to work in peace, David Cameron and Michael Gove are talking about a rather more fundamental (and important) point of political philosophy. Sir Nicholas is concerned with planes, trains and automobiles; David Cameron and Michael Gove are concerned with gender, ethnicity and sexuality, for that is what constitutes their ‘modernisation’.

Sir Nicholas has denied saying that MPs are somehow better than ordinary people: “I didn't say they weren't as good, but they are in a different walk of life. They are doing different things. Very often they are there with children."

He added that first class was ‘very valuable for business people and I include in that category MPs’.

The fact that members of parliament will no longer be reimbursed for first class travel is an undoubted loss of privilege (and, for those whose constituencies are hundreds of miles away from, may indeed mean they are no longer able to work on confidential matters whilst travelling). And so Sir Nicholas may be justifiably ‘infuriated’.

But he is nowhere near as infuriated as the rank and file of Conservative Party members who are slowly waking up to the fact that hoi oligoi holds hoi polloi in utter contempt, and that hoi polloi are considered good enough for bridge evenings, barbeques, quizzes, leaflet delivering and fund-raising. But God forbid that they should ever again acquire the right to determine who joins hoi oligoi, for that is now a centralised competence to the oligarchy itself, and only they are able to recognise ‘the perfect candidate’.

It is perhaps ironic that all those men (for they are) who were selected by hoi polloi under the ‘perfect son-in-law’ regime have become so patronisingly dismissive as to refer to Party members as ‘backwoodsmen’. Doubtless these rank and file dinosaurs ('a clumsy survival from earlier times' [OED]) need to realise that they are ‘a totally different type of people’. And if they do not, they will be sacked.

50 Comments:

Blogger Gnostic said...

A first class toilet is still a toilet. Until the elite no longer have to sit and sh*t like the rest of us we know that any snobbery is just an impudent and rather infantile type of self delusion. To add insult to injury, he insists at travelling first class at OUR expense, not his!

Winterton, like his colleagues, is nother more than a self justified trougher - something he DOESN'T have in common with the majority of honest, taxpaying, hard working hoi polloi. I'm a commoner who has worked hard all my life and I'll take that over any "first class", publicly funded scumbag politician every time.

19 February 2010 at 10:22  
Blogger Timothy Belmont said...

As you say, Your Grace, Sir Nicholas is, strictly speaking, a commoner like everybody in the country except Royalty and the Nobility. Even courtesy lords are, technically, commoners till they succeed to the titles.

I simply feel that, to spend double the money on a ticket from Gatwick to Victoria is such a waste of money. I'd be too mean to pay it. Perhaps most of Sir Nicholas's fares are paid for by the State; in which case I'd travel 1st Class too.

19 February 2010 at 10:35  
Anonymous Michael said...

Oh do leave your chippiness at the door Gnostic - and at least try and engage with the thrust of the article. It is quite clear that Sir Nicholas Winterton is more than simply a 'self justified trougher' - I've no doubt he's worked as hard in Parliament (a difficult job, by the way) as you have doing whatever it is you do.

An interesting take on it, though, not least because there is more than just a small amount of truth in it - social conservatives incite the bloodlust of even their own political party these days, and really are fair game for all and sundry seeking to plonk their 'progressive' credentials on the table for all to see - it reminds me of something Chesterton wrote, which I hope you don't mind if I reproduce...

'Of all the marks of modernity that seem to mean a kind of decadence, there is none more menacing and dangerous than the exultation of small and secondary matters of conduct at the expense of very great and primary ones... If there is one thing worse than the modern weakening of major morals, it is the modern strengthening of minor morals'.

19 February 2010 at 10:41  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Your Grace, all very well for Winterton to say this, but the man does not even PAY for his first class ticket. The other MPs who moan are still quite free to get out their wallets and pay for a first class ticket. Or they can get 'into line' with everyone else.

In any case there is not a great deal of difference between the two anymore, even on the plusher virgin trains. OK, so you get free coffee, but given the cost gulf, you do not really get value for money.

In reality first and second class tickets are there to give the upper middle class snobs like Winterton a sense of superiority to everyone else.

Whereas he might feel that way, the reality it that the train companies get to fleece these types of people. More fool them. Better off in second, at a quater of the price. The trick is to nip in quick and find a seat. If your travelling long distance your better off on a Brason train. That's what I do and I'm a Lord.....

19 February 2010 at 10:44  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Michael, it's a paucity of chippiness that gets the UK a supine, self interested body of lackwits ruling over us. I won't ever apologise for being chippy about the beggared state of this country.

19 February 2010 at 10:52  
Anonymous Tony B said...

It's an interesting idea that you can "work on confidential matters while travelling" in first class, not second. Presumably there are other people in first class? Perhaps you mean the people in First class, being a different type of person, aren't likely to try to pry into your business, whereas the oiks in second class are..oh dear..

19 February 2010 at 11:08  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Tony B,

Your construction is facile and was nowhere implied.

Sir Nicholas referred to not having people looking over one's shoulder and the noise of children. Since one does not have people standing in first class, there is less possibility of being overlooked if one is working on confidential constituency matters. And screaming babies and boisterous children almost never travel first class, ergo it is quieter, which aids concentration.

19 February 2010 at 11:15  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Dear Michael

Apt to remind us of Chesterton's observation. Is it from Orthodoxy? I can't remember.

Silly old Winterton. Does he have a death wish for the party he's leaving?
Where did he say it?

But rail travel in this country is a disgrace - the seats are cramped, the carriages dirty, smelly and ugly. The only part of the train where it's reasonably civilised and quiet and free of chippy types like Mr Tony B (and comparable to second class on the TGV) is the First Class part. It's becoming an expensive nightmare to travel the east coast line and I dread it.

The ticket price, for either class, is outrageous. It is nearly twice as expensive as flying from Newcastle to buy a second class ticket other than weeks in advance.

It is this that the chippy class warriors ought to be furious about, not the misinterpreted remarks of a man who has given his life to public service. We have no idea how hard he worked, or how effective he was, but just because he doesn't find it easy to put up with second class rail travel in modern Britain doesn't mean his whole life and career should be damned for all eternity.

19 February 2010 at 11:25  
Blogger OldSlaughter said...

Your Grace,

spot on as per..

I heard that interview and have already commented in defence of Sir Nicholas for similar reasons but in less eloquent terms than yourself.

I thought I was alone in doing this.

19 February 2010 at 11:25  
Blogger Sinful Soul said...

Your Grace,

The good Sir would benefit from a deeper understanding of humility I believe,or just learning to keep his mouth shut.

19 February 2010 at 11:27  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Your Grace, if Mr Winterton is working on highly confidential constituency documents then surely a railway carriage isn't exactly closed to public scrutiny, be they first class or otherwise?

Saying that I suppose it's common practice, given how many official documents and laptops containing sensitive information, tend to be left behind at journey's end. ;0)


PS I trust His Grace is feeling a little more robust today?

19 February 2010 at 11:31  
Blogger Timothy Belmont said...

A perceptive point about noisy children and a quieter environment in 1st Class, your Grace. Duly noted, and one with which I'd concur. I'm less convinced about the argument of looking over one's shoulders or even eaves-dropping. Espionage can occur anywhere! Still, a valid point and, I suppose, a valid reason for upgrading if others are picking up the tab.

19 February 2010 at 11:33  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Ms Gnostic,

Indeed he is, thank you.

He wouldn't wish the demonic noro virus on anyone.

Well, perhaps one or two...

19 February 2010 at 11:34  
Anonymous Tony B said...

I've already had it :o)

19 February 2010 at 11:37  
Blogger Gnostic said...

To be honest, I find it hard to ask anyone caught dipping into my pocket about the good works they've performed to offset their larceny.

Oh well, time to do something constructive like putting bread on the table. Have you seen the price of bread recently...?

19 February 2010 at 11:39  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

"screaming babies and boisterous children"

I agree your Grace, but this is due to lack of proper parenting. Also if we have 'mobile free' carriages, why not an 'adults only' carriage?

Also pleased to see you are feeling better.

19 February 2010 at 11:47  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Mr Walling, I'm not familiar with the adjective "chippy" - can you explain?

>I agree your Grace, but this is due to lack of proper parenting.

Ah! Properly parented babies don't scream?

19 February 2010 at 11:51  
Anonymous Michael said...

@Phillip Walling - It's from Tremendous Trifles - a book packed full of little nuggets like that.

19 February 2010 at 11:52  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Thankyou your grace for phrasing what he actually said better than most could be bothered to do.
And thankyou also for explaining somthing to me that had gone past unnoticed before, I am now better informed and see the situation uncomfortably clearer.

I think it is possible for the media to parody this MP/knight and I too recall a time when honour went with being hoi poloi , seems odd really , manner , deportment , politness , clear speaking , used to be coached by labour unionist so that what was considering a command of english would not get an advantage .

yet here we are on the verge of being ensalved not by english grammer , but by debt and spurious socialist ecnomics .

long established perks of the job that should not have got so out of controll as to end in nearly £1mn being paid back with potentially more in the pipeline for those that saw flipping as a means to gain a property portfolio ,is a mess I fear they have no one else to blame.

19 February 2010 at 12:12  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Mr Michael

Thank you, the title is a wonderful Chestertonian paradox.

Mr Tony B

Chippy means behaving as if you have a chip on your shoulder - ie acting out of a readiness to take offence or bitterness or a sense of grievance.

I have to apologise to you if I was slightly offensive, but your remark about oiks in the second class seemed to fall into the above definition; it was as if you had wilfully misinterpreted Winterton's remarks so as you could feign offence.

If you've travelled much on trains you will have seen how discourteously many people behave towards their fellow travellers. If discourtesy makes you an oik then there are plenty of oiks in the second class and fewer in the first.

19 February 2010 at 12:15  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Good article that will no doubt resonate with the grass-roots of the conservative party.

But where is all this going? What is the destination? And what of the people – who invite politicians to sit at ‘the gate’ to rule over them?

The themes of social, political and federal divisions now emerge with alarming regularity. The middle-class licentious student revolution of the 1960s (and who sit in the seats of power) has produced a class that enacts legislation and policies that are in disaccord with the people’s moral norms.

New Labour cut itself adrift from the moral injunctions of Methodism; it then cut itself free from the British working-classes (whilst enjoying the privileges of its bourgeois and effete lifestyle it transformed the proletariat into a class dependent on welfare); and then joined the elite of the European Union through the federal constitution – distancing itself from the British nation-state (and hence the people).

And the same is happening to the Conservative party (it is no longer ‘One Nation’ but ‘One Elite’). Now you are either a member of the political elite (New Labour and Conservative) or you are not. And if you are not – you are not.

It is like seeing a vision of society that consists of feet made of iron (the elite) and clay (the people) – and the two adhere not to each other.

The clay and the iron need each other: the one to rule and the other to supply its needs and fulfil its desires. Each also has a weakness: iron rusts and clay shatters.

A society such as that cannot last long. As the elite become remote and the majority are isolated from it – the elite will eventually impose laws that history shows trigger rebellion.

19 February 2010 at 12:21  
Blogger John.D said...

The man is a "stuck up" pillock, and His Grace is not fooling anyone who is not already of this breed.

19 February 2010 at 12:23  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Brilliant, Mr Singh.

That's why the conservatives are only marginally ahead in the polls.
With every passing month I become slightly less convinced that D Cameron is playing a clever game of saying as little as possible so as to upset as few people as possible, and more certain that he is really part of the same elite and thinks like them and thus is distanced from the people.

Rebellion may be the only hope.

19 February 2010 at 12:29  
Blogger John.D said...

Instead of trying to defend the gaffs of Tory snobs, I thought His Grace would be commenting upon Elton John's implications that Jesus took it up the arse?

19 February 2010 at 12:30  
Anonymous Tony B said...

"If I was in standard class I would not do work because people would be looking over your shoulder the entire time, there would be noise, there would be distraction."

"Sir Nicholas said he was not saying people who used standard class were inferior but that, in general, they were not working while travelling."

Maybe they aren't working because people would be looking over their shoulders all the time, there would be noise, there would be distraction..?

Mr Walling, thanks for the clarification. As it happens, I thought I was wilfully misinterpreting His Grace's remarks, but there you go. Perhaps I have an inferiority complex, for some reason.


I don't travel on trains too often, thankfully, but when I do, I find that all in second is very civilised indeed, until one gets further up the line and the overcrowding kicks in - and it's the overcrowding, I feel, that is the real issue that Mr Winterton ought to be complaining about.

By the way, there are varied forms of discourtesy, and they include the kind of rudeness and disrespect that comes with thinking you're a cut above the rest. When I worked in a video rental outlet, a regular customer was a High Court Judge. He was without doubt the rudest and most discourteous person I have ever encountered. His wife, to her credit, often seemed acutely embarrassed by his rudeness.

19 February 2010 at 12:32  
Anonymous Tony B said...

John D - beautifully worded.

19 February 2010 at 12:34  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Tony B,

proper parents do not allow their child to run amok on trains and do nothing about it.

proper parents will be able to keep the children fully engaged, whilst the journey is being undertaken.

proper parents look after their children and takes an interest in what they do.

proper parents are able to keep children calm and to help the child to enjoy life.

proper parents work together to look after their children, without one having to do all the work.

19 February 2010 at 12:53  
Anonymous Hereward said...

I wonder what Mandelson has to say on the matter. . .

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/7125252/Into-economy-class-Lord-Mandelson.html

19 February 2010 at 12:54  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

I find myself agreeing with Lord Lavendon on the subject of properly parented children.

I know I was never allowed to act the way some children get away with these days and the only person I can blame for this is the parents.

And surprisingly find myself agreeing with some of what D.Singh says, the two areas of scoiety do need each other. However I have to disagree about the government being their to rule. The government is there to serve the people, not to rule people, unfortuneately though, in practice they follow D.Singh's choice of words which is where a lot of these problems stem from.

19 February 2010 at 14:04  
Blogger D. Singh said...

'...though, in practice they follow D.Singh's choice of words...'

Glovy, you flatter me. But their actions are clearly those in accord with your socialistic and atheistic norms that suffocate the people with their centralised planning.

19 February 2010 at 14:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aye, given them enough rope and they'll hang themselves.

It has now become impossible to miss that politicians only view us their metaphorical 'money tree'.

Disgusting grubbers, everyone of them

19 February 2010 at 14:25  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Will you please get it through your head that I am not a sociallist, I am an atheist but this only requires that I lack belief in any superstious gods nothing more.

I may have sociallist leanings on some subjects, just like I have conservative leanings on others. People do not fit comofortably inside a little labeled box like you seem desperate to believe.

19 February 2010 at 14:31  
Blogger John.D said...

The idea of winning the election by appealing through policies has obviously given way to a demented battle of posters and cheap slanging matches - "who said what to whom" - and "who leaked what to whom".

The Speccie website has a become a pathetic third rate cheap and nasty tabloid - while they engage in gutter politics and gutter "journalism".

Gosh we are messed up aren't we? Is there some new consensus to try to engage 5yr olds or something, so they can go on to convince their parents who to vote for?

19 February 2010 at 15:21  
Blogger Maturecheese said...

I was listening to that interview on R5 and I had a bit of sympathy with the interviewers line of questioning until he got to that point. As Sir Nicholas pointed out why he needs to travel first class, Stephen Nolan started going off on one big time, nearing hysteria, jumping on the 'class' bandwagon. It was embarrassing as it was like listening to a Labour rant. The BBC then ran with it all day. What a joke!

19 February 2010 at 15:30  
Blogger Mark Blades said...

So, the question is, Mr, Cranmer, are the revolting Conservative peasants sufficiently revolted with the Tory leadership to fully revolt and vote for the 'revolting' BNP?

19 February 2010 at 15:59  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Mark Blades,

His Grace is not sure what informs your knowledge of conservatism or Conservative Party history, but no true Conservative or conservative could possibly vote for the BNP, however revolted they may be.

19 February 2010 at 16:13  
Anonymous revolting Conservative peasant said...

I agree with Sir Nick on this one.People have forgotten their place in society. MP's are our betters and we must look up to them with due reverence and respect.

19 February 2010 at 16:17  
Blogger John.D said...

So what's the plan then,,,,put the Pillock Cameron forward into the front line in order to appease the modern "taste" then fire up the old cronies into action? Jesus Christ!

19 February 2010 at 16:17  
Blogger Mark Blades said...

Mr. Cranmer,
Are you totally devoid of any discernment as to when somebody is writing 'tongue in cheek'?

19 February 2010 at 16:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's called Conservative vision, this is a bit like tunnel vision only worse.

19 February 2010 at 17:07  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Mark Blades - yes.

19 February 2010 at 17:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or is Tony B just a rank socialist?

19 February 2010 at 18:07  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Anon - no.

19 February 2010 at 18:56  
Blogger Terry Hamblin said...

Five times a year I travel First Class at the Taxpayer's expense. It is certainly quieter than second class and marginally more comfortable. I have to read very complicated documents on the train and am glad that I don't have the distractions. About 15 times a year I travel the same journey second class. On these occasions I am paid for by a charity and I think a little discomfort is justifiable. When I was an NHS consultant I was entitled to first class travel, but never availed myself of it; the NHS had better things to spend taxpayers' money on.
If MPs have to work on the train, they should be able to do so in peace and quiet without interruption. But Winterton is an ass for putting it the way he did.

19 February 2010 at 23:24  
Anonymous Happyness Stan said...

Terry Hamblin

Please do not try to justify your clearly elitist status. No one is impressed, and no one should be.

It is clear that you do not personally have to pay for your own travel expenses out of your own taxable income. Well jolly good for you.

My company also pays for my travelling expenses. The difference is that it is MY COMPANY, therefore I am still having to generate the income myself.

Therefore I have never travelled Ist Class anywhere, as doing so is clearly a complete waste of hard earned cash.

I dont care whether you are reading very important papers or not. Perhaps if they are as important as you say, you should not be reading them while travelling at all.

The truth is, although I very much doubt you will admit it even to yourself, is that you travel Ist class because you are an wannabe elitist snob, and always have been, very much in the Sir Nicholas bracket. Also you travel first class wholly because you are not paying the bill yourself out of your own pocket.

The truth is that hardly ANYONE ever does travel Ist class who is actually paying the bill themselves out of taxable income. The cost of Ist class travel is far out of all proportions to the relative benefits. Therefore ONLY a person like yourself, would contemplate such an abuse of cash.

May I suggest next time you waste money in such a pointlessly cavalier fashion, you consider how many starving 3rd world children the extra cash could properly feed for a whole YEAR?

20 February 2010 at 00:38  
Anonymous no nonny said...

It really is too horrible - seeing what used to be the best country in the world turn into a trash heap ruled over by the nastiest people in the world.

I wouldn't mind if we hadn't fought our way out from under the Romans and the Normans, and then spent hundreds of years evolving ways of making things work for ourselves.

Lord, how I despise the euSSR and all its posturing, posing, minions.

20 February 2010 at 02:45  
Anonymous Oswin said...

no nonny ....ah yes, I recall those Normans; a hard time we had of it then...but at least they didn't make us leave our shoes at the Cathedral door; or carry around a bit of carpet-runner! It could be worse, and probably will be; but never say die. We WILL prevail!

20 February 2010 at 19:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember "turnip taliban"? -- the insult coined by one of these scum to describe honest decent constituency conservatives appalled by the unprincipled wench being parachuted by CCHQ into their "safe seat". That was when a lot of us discovered that "rotten borough" would be a better term for them.

Why vote conservative? Indeed why vote NuLab? You'll be treated like muck either way.

In Ancient Sparta, the Helots -- whose name has become synonymous with voteless oppression -- had to pay tax at 50%. If you want to get me to do some work for you, and have £100, the amount I will get at basic tax rate is £54 (after 22% PAYE, 11% NI, and 13% "employer's" NI). The tax rate on jobs is 46%! And Gordon has plans for the other 4%, as we all know. How little we differ!

We need a revolution in this country. We must do this ourselves. We might start by voting either UKIP or BNP.

20 February 2010 at 20:47  
Anonymous Bruce (industrial strength) said...

Yes nonny no when you give a knghthood to a fat heretical
untalented queen like Elton John
your nation has become a trash heap.

22 February 2010 at 14:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always travel first/business class, simply because its more pleasant, theres more room, and you don't have hoards of irritating thick Sun readers and their grotty spawn talking bollocks from all angles.

And it isn't actually that expensive either. London to Darlington last month - standard class ticket would have been £75, first class was £95.

Big deal.

So maybe it is snobbery, who gives a toss? I'm not forcing anyone else to pay it, so enjoy! Sit in cramped standard class with the rest of the fucking sheep.

20 November 2010 at 12:48  

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