Class and opportunity knocks

Following my efforts to dissect the class debate on the working and shirking classes where Labour has allegedly lost the working class (aside that most of those lost seem not to work…), I was still fascinated to stumble upon a pretty bitter conversation between Grace Blakeley, whose Twitter profile suggests she is a Moet Marxist, sorry Moët Marxist, because she does put the umlaut where it should be (and yes, there was lots of German immigration to the Champagne region), and Faiza Shaheen, who was the (unsuccessful) Labour candidate in Iain Duncan Smith’s constituency, where she lives, and is head of the CLASS thinktank.

Both went to Oxford and both read PPE, about which I confess I’ve never been too complimentary, and both are lefties.

A little flavour of both is captured below but the real McCoy is available here and here:

Still, I’m with Faiza.

For the whole class divide is not really about whether you work or are intelligent or have a degree or speak with a lovely BBC or Geordie accent. None of that really matters in life.

What does really matter in today’s lives is access to resources, otherwise known as money – having some ‘backing’ in the old-fashioned phrase.

That really means capital.

That’s why Tories try to acquire it – and how.

So the ‘working’ class are really the class who have no capital.

In lots of ways we are still a straight capitalist society.

Almost everyone works, which is potentially a method to acquire capital – but that’s much more difficult when not everyone has ‘backing’.

I’m afraid I suspect – I certainly don’t know – that probably Grace has more of that than Faiza.

Hence, perhaps, their diverging opinions.

But regardless – it is that access to savings and the security that capital offers that is the real class divide, I suggest.

It is the comfort cushion that enables the unclouded pursuit of opportunities.

Without it, the opportunities become rather less…


  1. Andrew -

    So Boris Johnson is working class, because he has to work to support himself and his family? Indeed, poor lamb, he struggles to get by on just five times median earnings.

    1. Peter May -


      No he isn’t working class – but is anyone?

      And surely Johnson has family capital?

      Inadequate probably, for his desires but that is simply a matter of desire not of capital.

      He works – allegedly.

      But he went to Eton so is not without family capital – in its widest sense, I suggest.

      1. Andrew -

        Sorry, no criticism intended. Just trying to engage with either Grace’s definition. Does Boris Johnson own resources critical for the production process, or does he sell his labour power? If by that definition he is “working class”, I’d suggest that there definition is inadequate, for the very reasons you give, as it does not take account of what we might term social capital.

  2. Graham -

    I read a book by Ms Blakeley. Overrated. I disagree that those things don’t matter when lived experience suggests they do. How else do you explain the over representation of ex public school chaps in all top jobs and professions.
    Whether class is a useful category is another question.

    1. Peter May -

      @ Graham I think that proves the point – it is people with family capital against those without that is the dividing line. In that context ‘reconnecting with the working class’ is, meaningless media claptrap.
      @ Andrew agreed.
      The concept of Johnson being productive is a challenge to say the least!

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