Marx on Monday – Polly Toynbee, the people’s voice

In an ideal world we working class people would be able to stick up for ourselves. We would be able to write our own articles in The Guardian telling people how hard it is to live without hope and in poverty. We could set out on paper what our aspirations are.

But we can’t – because we are too thick to speak for ourselves. Thank goodness then that there are posh rich people who know what we think, who know what we want – and are selfless enough to write articles in The Guardian telling everyone – including us – exactly what that is.

I’m talking, of course, about the great left wing visionary Polly Toynbee, without doubt one of our own.

Polly may not at first blush seem to fit the profile of a working class hero. She was born, Mary Toynbee (named after her great Grandmother Lady Mary Howard) into incredible wealth and privilege and went to the same upper class private school as Indira Ghandi and Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan. But she didn’t finish her education there – oh no! Polly did her A levels at a comprehensive school in the run down inner city London borough of Holland Park. And the plan worked perfectly. With Oxbridge under pressure to increase their student numbers from underprivileged pupils in the state sector her latterday conversion to state education earned her a place at Oxford.

Before attending Oxford she spent her gap year in Rhodesia working for Amnesty International, where she helped to topple the barbaric state of Ian Smith and replace it with the more human rights friendly regime of Robert Mugabe.

She didn’t stay at Oxford long enough to graduate – preferring to drop out safe in the knowledge that not only had she taken the place of a posh, rich undergraduate (who had to go to Bristol or Exeter instead thus ruining their life) but she would also not have lost any money because the bill for her fees and her grant was in those days paid for by the taxpayer.

After dropping out of Oxford our Polly, determined to find out first hand exactly what it was like to live life as a working class person (expressed by Jarvis Cocker as “without meaning or control,”) embarked on an eight month stint working as a nurse, in a factory and in a burger bar. Luckily, even though she did such low paid jobs, she was able to live in Clapham thanks to a house she managed to purchase mortgage free with a modest trust fund.  As a result of her eight month experience of low paid work few but the most cynical right wing Tories would deny that she had earned the right to pen a book entitled – “a working life” – which she duly did. True, working class people who had spent fifty plus years down the pit, may have been in a marginally better position to write about “a working life” than Polly, but – as I’ve already pointed out – they are too thick to even read the Guardian, let alone write for it, so Polly’s eight month stint had to do.

The main problem Polly had with low paid work was that after a day at the factory she found she was too tired to write her weekly column for the Observer – so she gave it up (the job that is, not the column) – and why not? She certainly didn’t need the money and, after eight months of rubbing shoulders with the great unwashed, she was now in a perfect position to be their spokesman for the rest of her life.

But she didn’t rest on her laurels. After thirty years of comfortable journalism, as part of her research for another book, “Hard Work – Life in Low Pay Britain,” she spent several weeks working for the minimum wage (then £4-10p per hour) as a care home assistant before contracting salmonella. She became so ill that she had to give up her job and leave her house in Clapham to recuperate at her Villa in Tuscany.

After her return from Italy Polly put her experience of a life lived in grinding poverty into action. In the thirty years since leaving Oxford she had only spent twenty nine of them as a professional journalist and nearly a whole year doing low paid jobs. Was there anyone better suited in the whole of Britain to write about just how hard it was to live on benefits?

Most writers at the time were of the opinion that benefits were a safety net, to provide a minimum standard of living for those unfortunate enough to be temporarily out of work, but Polly alone realised that benefits were, for the millions of people like me, a perfectly legitimate lifestyle choice.

I have long been of the view that the government plan for people on benefits is the gas chamber and Polly also recognised this fact, writing an article pointing out that benefit cuts were the governments “final solution” to the problem of so-called welfare scroungers.

Whilst most people attack we jobseekers as layabouts and the government plans another round of cuts Polly alone amongst journalists implores the rich taxpayers to increase benefits so that people like me can afford to feed and clothe our children and enjoy a few of life’s necessaries like fags, booze, lottery tickets, I-phones and Sky television.

She also defends the rights of those on disability benefits. Many people like me, faced with new rules which mean that jobseeker benefit claimants actually had to look for work, were forced to pretend to be disabled so that we could claim disability benefit. One of the perks of this is a new car provided by the state with free tax and insurance, no congestion charge and an orange badge so that we can park in the disabled bays right outside the shops.

These free cars, paid for by the taxpayer, are a basic human right for we people claiming disability benefit. The biggest car fleet in the world is the Chinese Army fleet. Third is the Russian Army fleet. In proud second place is the British government’s disability car fleet – but that is under attack from Cameron’s fascist government. It is no longer good enough to self-certify that you are disabled. Under new fascist Tory rules people like me are now forced to see an independent doctor who will assess whether or not we actually do suffer from a disability which makes it impossible for us to work and qualifies us for a free car. Polly Toynbee is almost a lone voice against this attack on our human rights. She may be posh but she is fighting like Churchill for my right to keep my new BMW and to increase my benefits. Only last week in the Guardian she wrote an article warning that the government intends to re-possess tens of thousands of free disability benefit cars from those people who are not actually disabled.

She also understands that the greatest prime minister in history is none other than Tony Blair – stating that his was the “best government of my political lifetime.”

Polly Toynbee understands, not so much from her extensive experience as a low paid worker, but from her experience of a life of privilege, that there is nothing wrong with getting something for nothing – be it an education at a posh public school, a squandered education at Oxford, a free car courtesy of the taxpayers or increased benefits for those who have made it a lifestyle choice. She is truly a left wing visionary who knows what it is like to live a life in grinding poverty.  So it doesn’t matter that we working class people are too thick to express our political opinions. As long as Polly Toynbee has internet connection at her Villa in Tuscany our voice will be heard loud and clear.

  • Craig King

    Great article. Well said, but will the truly horrid PT stop her arrogance? Not a chance. Grrrrrrr.

  • Ann H

    I’m glad Ms Toynbee has a job as a journalist. I fear that she would not survive if she had to rely on low paid jobs for any length of time; even with a house in Clapham and a villa in Tuscany.

  • http://gravatar.com/mmcg968 mmcg968

    Bravo!

  • Simon Roberts

    Brilliant.

  • Comrade Joyce

    Kevin, it’s mum. Have you tidied your room yet? Only those sheets were like melba toast the last time I saw them. And for God’s sake have a wash will you.

  • Mark Nutley

    Genius

  • http://twitter.com/Pam_nAshes Pam Nash (@Pam_nAshes)

    Polly. Nailed. Love it…..

  • http://www.euphrosenelabon.com euphrosenelabon

    Still laughing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnpaul.marney John-Paul Marney

    James baby. Great minds think alike. I had a letter on this very subject in the Spectator in May. I think there is a great deal more to be said on the subject of Labour and the Left as the New Squirearchy. The Great and the Good shing the light of their countenance on we plebs who don’t know any better.

  • Sean

    I’m not surprised The Guardian won’t let your ilk write about your life, you’re so thick you cannot even write iPhone correctly, dumbass scrounger.

  • http://gravatar.com/obnoxiotheclown obnoxiotheclown

    You know she’s sold her Tuscan villa? Times must be hard.

  • http://twitter.com/Moon___Unit ☾Moony 月亮 (@Moon___Unit)

    She’s made from the standard wealthy lefty template. “Of the people”, despite never having had a day without a penny in her pocket.

  • http://twitter.com/Khyberman Banti Singh (@Khyberman)

    Excellent!

  • kev

    Perfectly illustrated. I hope she reads it.

  • http://gravatar.com/sebastianmills sebastianmills

    Dreadful old bat. Hates the plebs & the great unwashed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nigelbryancook Nige Cook

    All “power-by-elite-proxy” political systems including Marxism and science-by-consensus-not-objectivity are religion-by-subtext. Not self-confessed religion, but as James explains for AGW in Watermelons, they are propaganda based idealistic religions which give followers the excuse to lie and increase the national deficit in the name of idealism, while simply making everybody’s life hell as a consequence. In 1915 Edward Adams’ book “The Inhumanity of Socialism” explained (page v): “the theories of good men who are enthralled by its delusions are made the excuse of the wicked who would rather plunder than work; because it stops enterprise, promotes laziness, exhalts inefficiency, inspires hatred, checks production, assures waste and instills into the souls of the unfortunate and the weak hopes impossible of fruition whose inevitable blasting will add to the bitterness of their lot.” All of these 1915 findings were confirmed by the history of the USSR and socialist Britain in the 1970s and 2000s. Alan Mass’s book “The Case for Socialism”, Haymarket Books, 3rd edition, 2010, falsely blames capitalism for war, oppression, and alleged environmentalism, claiming that capitalism is “theft” from workers to pay the entrepreneurs who set up the companies and the investors who risk investing money in them! Without free enterprise and invention, you are left with the unproductive state sector which spends taxes without generating any net income. Mass on pages 157-8 stubbornly refuses to see the failure of 1980s socialism in the USSR! It’s a failed faith-based ideology religion (comprising of simplistic shortcuts that lead to hell).

  • http://jdseanjd.wordpress.com jdseanjd

    No wonder this country is in the sh1te.

    I am a true Eastender, born within the sound of the Bow Bells, lived in Old Ford Bow, brought up on council estates, & I know that money results from work done, goods sold, entertainment provided & so on.

    I’ve never bought a new car or van for myself in my life, never wanted to see it drop in value 10% as soon as I drove it off the forecourt.

    It is the sense of entitlement fostered by “Working Class Champion” twats like Toynbee, (or should that be World Class Champion Twat?), that has this country skint.

    See Terry Smith’s blog: http://www.terrysmithblog.com & go to “Britain is going Broke” Terry is a council estate boy who has done more than well for himself.

    One essential fact that has escaped Ms Polly is that govt has to take the money, for this army fleet of new cars for example, as well as all the other benefits she wants to see provided, from someone else in taxes, to give to the skivers who pretend to be disabled to get these new cars.

    I know 2 such skivers myself. If you pay people handsomely to be disabled, then they will be, by the thousands, as these figures show. It’s not rocket science.

    Another fact which has escaped Ms Polly Toybrain is that by giving things too freely & too generously to folk, you do them no favours. You destroy their characters. They are never satisfied & always moaning, feeling hard done by & wanting more.

    Read Theodore Dalrymple’s books such as “life at the bottom”
    As a doctor, he has seen much, & writes clearly about this problem.

    Both the ‘disabled’ skivers I know are also thieves.

    When the govt, which is everyone in theory, does not have enough tax income to pay for these entitlements, they (we) have to borrow to pay the difference, & pay interest on these borrowings.

    Frighteningly, govts have run this country in the red for 30 of the last 34 years, as you make clear in your brilliant post from The Cobden Institute elsewhere on this site.

    This has built up a debt our children & grandchildren will be paying. This is truly immoral. We are enslaving our kids & theirs.

    The govt’s way out of this is to cause inflation, to print money, to devalue our currency slowly to make it easier to pay our debts. This inflation, of course, destroys savings & pensions.

    So let’s say a big thank you to Ms Polly Toynbee:
    Thank you for causing bigger taxes;
    Thank you for debasing the character of our people;
    Thank you for contributing in no small measure to this countries debt;
    Thank you for enslaving our children to these debts;
    Thank you for helping to ruin the savings & pensions of our people.

    One has to ask whether she is terminally stupid, or whether she knows what she is doing?

    JD.

    PS: I view Tony Bliar as a warmongering mass murderer.
    How many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, civilian & military, died in his false hunt for nonexistent ‘weapons of mass destruction’, or ‘regime change’, as it magically morphed into, or a bid for oil, or toadying up to the US & expending the lives of hundreds of our young soldiers, male & female, so he could become an ‘international statesman’ (spit), & multi-millionaire (spit)?

    I regard him as directly responsible for the July 2005 bus & tube bombs in London, which killed 52 & maimed & injured 700.

    He enraged the entire Muslim world by invading Iraq.

    In a just world he would be tried as a war criminal.
    We do not live in a just world, of course, & the winners write the laws, & the history books.

    He also inherited a healthy economy from the Tories, & with Gorgon Broown, left this country bankrupt.

    The man is evil.

    JD

    • http://jazz606.wordpress.com/ jazz606

      Well said.

      I wonder what Ms Toybee’s tax status is, does she have a service company to limit her liability ?

      After all it’s one thing to laud up benefits, free cars etc, but another thing to pay for them.

      • http://jazz606.wordpress.com/ jazz606

        I meant “Toynbee”.

    • Michael Evans

      You Sir, are a brainwashed imbecile with absolutely no knowledge of capitalist economics or monetary policy beyond your simplistic statement of money comes from hard work, goods sold blah blah blah.

      You are one of the idiots who believe that the problems this country face stem from fraudulent benefit claims. A poll conducted by the Trades Union Congress in 2012 found that perceptions among the British public were that benefit fraud was high – on average, people (Daily Mail reading idiots like yourself it seems) thought that 27% of the British welfare budget is claimed fraudulently; however, official UK Government figures have stated that the proportion of fraud stands at 0.7% of the total welfare budget in 2011/12. This of course may be slightly higher due to undetected fraud but how any sane person can believe that this is more important to deal with than regulating banks is absolutely baffling. Hundreds of billions of ponds were poured into the banks to stop society from crumbling and people like you have no idea why, yet still find time to scream about scroungers and skivers. You really are the lowest of the low and it is you who will ensure our children have a darker future.

      YOU are the people who are killing this country for ordinary working people by having no sense of the bigger picture. That anyone with half a brain thinks that Gordon Brown and Labour caused the GLOBAL financial crash of 2008 simply beggars belief. The clue is in the world global. Rampant neo-liberal Capitalism caused the crash – the boom bust cycle is INEVITABLE with fractional reserve lending set at a rate of 9 to 1, unless countries can sustain exponential growth which is improbable if not impossible. And when the crash comes, imbeciles like you prop up the right wing governments who cut from the most vulnerable in society, cut public services, cut from benefits whilst cutting jobs. All so the billionaire investors in government bonds can retain the “confidence” that their investment will see the handsome return they were promised.

      You really do make me sick. Educate yourself you fucking arsehole.

  • Robert Edwards

    “Who can give guidance to the proletarian millions?”

    (J.Stalin: “Foundations of Leninism”, 1924).

  • David

    Very funny! Polly is a typical posh public school bint who almost certainly – like so many others of her class who were either unattractive, unpopular, or hopeless at games – compensated by sitting behind the fives courts smoking and planning revolution. We had a few of those at my school who went on to become labour politicians. But most grow out of it while Polly has made it her life’s ambition. What she really fails to grasp is that most working class people have pride and ambition to do better and do not really appreciate being patronized by the likes of her!

  • http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com/ David Davis

    Reblogged this on The Libertarian Alliance: BLOG.