The English aren’t such a bad bunch

The left needs to make peace with the English if it is ever to stage a comeback.


In The Guardian on Monday, Channel 4 News's economics editor, Paul Mason, noted that the scale of the SNP victory in Scotland "virtually compels" all the UK-wide political parties "to start centring themselves on a place called England". This would be a bad thing: "as an English person I would like to declare up front: I do not want to be English".

Back in 1941, George Orwell observed that "England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman..."

Orwell's point seems even truer now. Analysing Labour's defeat in The Observer, Nick Cohen said that the party's leadership of former special advisers doesn't look like the people it wants to represent "and doesn't look as if it likes the look of them either".

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The educated left in England, unlike almost anywhere else in the world, "makes a virtue of denigrating its own people". The universities, left-wing press, and the arts "characterise the English middle-class as Mail-reading misers, who are sexist, racist and homophobic to boot. Meanwhile, they characterise the white working class as lardy, Sun-reading slobs, who are, since you asked, also sexist, racist and homophobic.

The national history is reduced to one long imperial crime, and the notion that the English are not such a bad bunch with many strong radical traditions worth preserving is rejected as risibly complacent." As Cohen says, if the left is going to make a comeback, then its first task must be to show that "deplorable and stupid though we undoubtedly are, in so many different and disgraceful ways, it doesn't actually think the English are its enemies".

Red Ed's worthless guru

Whatever the Australian guru Lynton Crosby charged the Tories for his advice, it was worth it. The same can't be said for the American David Axelrod who advised Miliband. Reputedly paid £300,000 for his services, he came to Britain only a handful of times in the 18 months he was on the payroll.

His advice, according to Andrew Pierce in the Daily Mail, included telling Miliband to stare into the cameras while taking part in the leaders' debate, which many viewers found unnerving, and to take with him a lectern wherever he went. At times, says Pierce, this "just served to make him look ridiculous" (as when he deployed it in a back garden in a residential street in Cardiff).

A Chinese billionaire has treated 6,400 members of his company's staff to a four-day holiday in France, booking 140 hotels in Paris and 4,700 rooms on the Cte d'Azur. The whole thing cost Li Jinyuan (who founded the Tiens Group in 1995) £9.5m, a drop in the ocean for him.

It's another sign of the trend we identified in MoneyWeek a few weeks ago: the huge boom in Chinese tourism to the West. Perhaps others will follow Jinyuan's example and we'll soon all be fighting for our sun loungers not with the Germans but with the Chinese.

Tabloid money: Russell Brand's bid for London Mayor

"Whatever your politics, there are a few election results we can all cheer," says Louise Mensch inThe Sun. One is Russell Brand coming unstuck. "How sickening was it to see this pampered millionaire positioning himself as some kind of born-again politician?"

The man who "wanted to charge us £20 for a hard-backed book about why capitalism is evil confirmed that he really is a champagne socialist of the very highest order". People say he wants to run for Mayor of London. "Well, his shambolic celebrity X Factor election has now put paid to that one for ever".

"Ed Balls's shock exit from the Commons might come as a financial relief to writer Ken Follett," says Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail. "He gave Balls £204,094 during the last parliament, including £115,494 in June 2010 to help fund his failed bid to become Labour leader.

Had Balls been returned to Westminster he'd almost certainly have looked to Follett to bankroll his leadership bid. Perhaps Ed could feature in a follow-up to Ken's historical novel, Fall of Giants?"

"The Tories must now pay for expensive election promises on taxes and spending while finding £12bn in welfare cuts to balance the books," says Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. "Labour will squeal like stuck pigs, accompanied by the BBC and the charities and quangos stuffed with left-wing stooges.

Leading the charge will be Labour MP Margaret Hodge, whose Public Accounts Committee will accuse ministers of crucifying the poor to help the filthy rich. Ms Hodge, part of the Oppenheimer steel empire, is not only filthy rich herself but uses the very tax havens in Liechtenstein and Panama she condemns from her pulpit. Hypocrite or what?"