Huffpost UK uk
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Adam Lee-Potter Headshot

Let Them Eat Country Suppers

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

We're all in this together? Not since Marie Antoinette's infamous "let them eat cake" has a phrase so neatly captured the class divide.

For despite what the likes of David Cameron and his erstwhile chum, the former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks, might once have thought - we are blatantly not all in this together. The risible notion of a classless society remains what it always was: a suburban myth. Recession has only broadened the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

While ordinary folk tighten their belts and embrace DIY, the socio-economic elite talks merely of downsized kitchen suppers, free horses and emergency jerrycans. Language is as identifying as any Masonic handshake. If the past is a foreign country, Cameron and his ilk belong on the moon.

Brooks' sycophantic yet strangely manipulative text message to the Prime Minister - as revealed before the Leveson Inquiry this week - further highlighted the social schism that defines this country. If an army marches on its stomach, Tories clearly march on supper - be they in Francis Maude's kitchen, Cameron's country or George Osborne's Mansion House.

Politics have come, if not full circle, certainly 180 degrees. In lieu of Tony Blair's quasi-presidential grandeur and John Prescott's champagne socialism, we now have an Old Etonians' tofftopia: an ageing Bullingdon Club.

Cameron huffed and puffed at Leveson as he hotly denied being in cahoots with News International. There were, he said, no deals, no backstage "nods and winks". But were cosily clandestine suppers with puppeteer Brooks really any better? Worse, the C-word haunted his every line.

The Tory leader tried desperately to claim their assignations were perfectly normal, banal even: we're neighbours, we chat. But these weren't just any old neighbours popping next door for tea and a buttered slice. When you have to preface a dinner date with a geographical adjective according to how many houses you own, you are not easily going to win over the common man.

It is, of course, ironic that Cameron and Brooks should have been hoisted by the class petard, since they have both battled to blur their wildly different origins.

The former - with his thin "call me Dave" attempts - has always vainly sought to play down his gentrified origins, as has his wife. Samantha Cameron - the daughter of a baronet - famously claimed to have been brought up "outside Scunthorpe" which, though arguably true, fell somewhat short of the actuality: the 3,000-acre Thealby Hall estate.

Brooks's reinvention - from News of the World secretary to Sun editor - was by far the more convincing and impressive. Whatever one thinks of her motives, alleged methods or undeniably useful marriages, no one can doubt her ambition or drive.

But while the Prime Minister clings to power, his neighbour - charged with perverting the course of justice - is the one facing imprisonment. And that is the uncomfortable "moral" of the British class system. It is, sadly, far easier to stay atop the greasy pole than to climb up.

The country suppers are, one suspects, over for Rebekah Brooks: free to those that belong, very expensive to those that don't.

Around the Web

David Cameron - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

David Cameron | Politics | The Guardian

DavidCameron.com

David Cameron | Facebook

The Conservative Party | People | David Cameron

Britain Prime Minister David Cameron testifies in media inquiry

David Cameron is tainted prime minister - Ed Miliband

David Cameron survives the Leveson Inquiry but his harshest test is ...

Thank you David Cameron - giving comfort to dud parents everywhere

Cameron left his daughter at a pub? Britain shrugs, commiserates.