Rowling's savage attack on the middle class

JK Rowling goes after middle England with her new book.

Are you tempted to read JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy? Me neither sounds a bit grim. As Theo Tait put it in The Guardian, "people still enjoy reading about good people, and seeing them rewarded something that more respectable novels seldom offer these days".

In The Casual Vacancy, according to Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph, Rowling characterises life in the small fictional West Country town of Pagford with "500 pages of swearing, rape, drug abuse, suicide, drowning, self-harm, pseudonymous internet denunciations, domestic violence, acne and meetings of the parish council". The novel is a savage attack on the middle classes: Rowling says she detests snobbery and wishes to expose it.

"Anyone who has a slightly out-of-date, petit-bourgeois Christian name, like Howard, Shirley or Maureen, is bad," says Moore. "Such people's evil is proved by the fact that they have carriage lamps outside their doors, refer to the sitting-room as the lounge, wear deerstalkers (indoors!) and candlewick dressing-gowns. They have for no clich is left unturned in this book hanging baskets, fake log fires and privet hedges."

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How sad, says Moore, that Rowling has come to despise the provincial England that made her. It is in our provincial life that our great culture has flourished, and it is "partly because of the decline of our provincial life" that it has degenerated. "The huge preponderance of London in the 21st century has certainly made our capital city one of the liveliest in the world, but it has also drained the life and variety out of the rest of the country."

Among others disappointed by The Casual Vacancy is Amanda Platell. "Has it escaped JK Rowling's attention," she says in the Daily Mail, "that without her despised middle classes, there would be no one to foot the bill for the single mums, as she once was, living off benefits.

Without the middle classes subsidising the poor, she would never have been able to write her books, amassing as she has an estimated £600m fortune." Miss Rowling's portrayal of life in Britain, adds Platell, "is, I suggest, as much a fantasy as anything that went on in Hogwarts, only far more unpleasant".

No sympathy for police in 'plebs' row

I don't feel much sympathy for the Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell, but nor, in this instance, do I feel much for the police. Mitchell was riding a bike, a quiet, democratic form of transport, as Peter Hitchens says in The Mail on Sunday. "Had he been sprawled arrogantly in the back of a big fat government car, flanked by smarmy bureaucrats, he'd have been waved through."

And why didn't the police recognise him? "If I were in charge of the police guarding Downing Street, I would get rid of any constable working there who could not identify by sight... every member of the Cabinet." The police should remember who pays their bills. And perhaps they should sell their helicopters and get back to patrolling the streets on foot and on bikes.

Tabloid money the abominable beer escalator

Nick Clegg wants to "punish further those whose hard work, enterprise and wealth creation is the only hope this country has of beating the recession", says Jane Moore in The Sun. It's the "politics of envy" and it will encourage higher numbers of self-made men and women to leave these shores "while foreigners with economic woes continue to pour in with their hands outstretched.

"People like Latvian baby machine Linda Kozlovska, who came to Britain with three children and now has seven more. She gets £34,000 a year in benefits (a newly qualified nurse is paid £21,000) and is demanding an upgrade from her three-bed council house. For every Linda, there will be hundreds of other similar examples, costing the state untold millions."

"Pressure from motorists has curbed the hated fuel escalator," says Paul Routledge in the Daily Mirror. "Now it's the turn of drinkers to force a climbdown on the abominable beer escalator, imposed by Labour in 2008. It drives up the tax on your pint by 2% over inflation every year, and it's hitting sales and closing pubs. More than 100,000 people have signed a petition demanding a debate in the Commons. MPs are not obliged to grant a hearing, but they would be fools to ignore the loud voice from the public bar."

Ed Miliband's "real and incurable dilemma is a party which, thanks to him, is owned lock, stock and barrel by the unions", says Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. "In particular he is indebted to Len McCluskey, the militant Leftie who runs Unite. He has poured £6m into Labour's coffers. Along with other strike-happy public-sector unions, he is planning a damaging general strike as soon as the conference season is over. And he has just threatened to eradicate every last Blairite MP from the party... As long as union dinosaurs such as McCluskey hold a gun to [Miliband's] head, Labour is irrelevant, pointless and doomed."