The Social Distance Between Us

The Social Distance Between Us –

How Remote Politics Wrecked Britain

By Darren McGarvey

Ebury Press – £20.00

Could it be that Britain’s problem is not that there is a lot of poverty but that we keep putting rich and powerful people in charge of sorting it out?

MPs are now paid over £16.000 more than they were in 2010, while nurses, teachers and doctors are, in effect, paid less. The poorest women and children have seen their benefits slashed as a shrinking group of multi-billionaires, enabled by lax systems of taxation, increased their lion’s share of the spoils.

(Introduction)

Because you’ve got a big cheque book, doesn’t mean you’re right

(‘A Different Class’)

To say this is a substantially enlightening read, might be considered a gross understatement; especially if in Britain at least, one insists upon reading such right-wing newspapers as the purile (and ultra horrific) Daily Mail and Daily Express. For those who may thankfully resort to a more centrist if not leftist leaning media, Darren McGarvey’s The Social Distance Between Us – How Remote Politics Wrecked Britain still makes for an unequivocally, eye-opening read of a rather brutal yet at times, poignant persuasion.

The following excerpt from the chapter ‘Second Class Citizens, being one of (many) prime examples: ‘’Inequality is written into the education system’s DNA. The educational offer made to poorer children is not only inferior to that offered to middle-class kids but also subtly restricts their potential by constraining their aspirations as they slowly become adjusted to the idea people like them just don’t do certain things in life. When kids don’t see their peers succeeding, they learn something profound about their own place in the world. Children attending a school in a poorer community are placed at an immediate disadvantage and it is in the generational reproduction of this structural disadvantage that the education system derives a great deal of its ‘credibility.’

To think said DNA may change within a fraction of a fraction amid Britain’s education system – as a direct result of Boris Johnson’s supposed resignation last week – may be asking, if not hoping, for just a little too much. For as the blood hounds of colossal criminality continue to fight among themselves for the Tory leadership, so much of what has been most intelligently written herein, won’t unfortunately, even glean a second glance.

Such is the distance between the them and us.

[…]

The rich and poor.

[…]

The haves and have nots.

[…]

The horribly entitled and unwashed masses of visceral sufferance.

A mire if not a virus of continuing disgrace, that is both necessarily and haughtily brought to bear throughout these 368 pages (excluding Acknowledgements, A Note on Sources and Further Reading, and Index): ‘’This book is about distance. The distance between the powerful and powerless. The affluent and the poor. A book about how their interests and values diverge, and the assumptions they make about each other’s experiences and intentions in the absence of any meaningful interaction from which to draw more accurate conclusions. The distance between media and the facts, and the chasms between the various political actors across the political spectrum and the working people they are currently making overtures to.’’

Just one of the many variant qualities that is so warming about McGarvey’s writing, is his piledriver insistence upon driving his point home – of which the following two excerpts are again, pertinent examples:

‘’To the extent that health care becomes a commodity it becomes distributed just like champagne. That is rich people get a lot of it. Poor people don’t get any of it […]. Perhaps the saddest aspect of life here is that the places many people associate with happiness, pleasure and connectedness also play a decisive role in their needlessly abbreviated lives’’ (‘Health’).

‘’But it’s the hypocrisy of it all that should really anger us. The blatant double standards of a political class, which has for the longest time enjoyed a parallel benefits system which not only distributes public money to them far more generously, in the form of subsidies, expenses and other entitlements, but also one where the rules in place around it are nowhere near as punitive’’ (‘Welfare Reform’).

To be sure, the ‘’culture karma’’ so currently resonant within British politics is perfectly placed centre stage wherein McGarvey states: ‘’put simply, if all the best people are in all the top jobs, why is Britain such a fucking bin fire?’’

Precisely.

According to The Guardian’s Nick Cohen: ‘’McGarvey is a rarity: a working-class writer who has fought to make the middle-class world hear what he has to say.’’

And even if ten per-cent of the middle-class – let alone the current corrupt cabinet – get to hear what he has to say, maybe we’ll ALL be just a little better off for it.

Here’s hoping.

A terrific book either way.

David Marx

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