MARX ON MONDAY
Kevin Marx – a view from the left.
I don’t know about you but I was so upset upon hearing of the death of Tony Benn that I decided to pay a fitting tribute to the veteran Bollinger Bolshevik by treating myself to dinner at London’s most expensive restaurant, Launceston Place, in Kensington. I wasn’t the only one. The place was heaving with millionaire socialists, all looking to pay tribute to the late Viscount Stansgate by talking bollocks about a class of people they know nothing about whilst eating a meal that would cost about a month’s wages or more for the lower orders they purport to represent.
At first I thought I would be unable to get a table but the maître d’ asked me if I would mind sharing a table with another multi-millionaire socialist who had also turned up alone. I didn’t mind and seconds later I was astonished to find myself sitting at a cosy table for two with Prime Minister in waiting Ed Milliband.
“What a terrible tragedy,” I said, “Tony Benn dying so young.”
“Absolutely,” Ed agreed, “I’ve been round to his £5 million family house in Holland Park to leave a floral tribute. I still can’t believe that the champion of the working classes has gone.”
“What do you think is his greatest legacy?” I asked the Labour leader.
“He was the last of the great conviction politicians,” Ed replied, “he stood against class privilege and nepotism. As Michael Gove said in the Financial Times on Friday, the fact that there are so many Old Etonians in the Cabinet is preposterous.”
“But there’s only one,” I corrected him, “David Cameron himself.”
“Yes but what about his advisors?” Ed spat back, “Cameron has surrounded himself with Old Etonians, it’s real jobs for the boys stuff. People should be appointed on merit, not because of who they know.”
“I remember when I was sixteen,” I said, “I applied to do work experience with Tony Benn, but he was too busy to write back.”
“I did work experience with him when I was sixteen,” Ed replied.
“How did you manage that?” I asked.
“He was my father’s best friend,” said Ed, “so daddy sorted out the work experience for me with Uncle Tony.”
“Well done you,” I told him, “as gangster Henry Hill said in the film Goodfellas as he took his girlfriend into a busy restaurant through the kitchen, “it’s better than waiting in line.”
“And like Henry Hill I got a table right in the front,” Ed agreed, “lucky for me daddy and Tony were both Marxist intellectuals.”
“Isn’t the term “Marxist intellectual” a contradiction in terms,” I asked him, “what can be remotely intellectual about being an adherent to a political system that has been totally discredited in every conceivable way?”
“Let’s order our first course,” Ed quickly changed the subject, “I’m having the duck egg on toast and the Somerset truffle.”
“So what do you think about Gove’s comments on there being too many Etonians amongst David Cameron’s inner circle?” I asked the Labour Party leader.
“It’s not just Etonians,” Ed corrected me, “the Tory cabinet is stuffed full of over privileged public schoolboys who know nothing about the real world, people like Michael Gove himself, who went to a top public school in Scotland.”
“That’s right,” I replied, “the Tory cabinet has an astonishing nine members who went to public school whereas the Labour shadow cabinet has only eight public school members.”
“That’s right,” Ed confirmed.
“Of course two of the nine are Nick Clegg, who went to Westminster – the same posh school as Tony Benn – and Ed Davey, they are both Liberals,” I said, “so that makes it eight public school Labour Party shadow cabinet ministers to seven public school Tory cabinet ministers.”
“But Cameron went to Eton,” Ed spat back, “unlike me who, as I don’t like to mention, went to a comprehensive school.”
“But didn’t you mention the fact that you went to comprehensive school fifty eight times during the crap speech that you delivered in a whiney nasal twang to the Labour Party Conference last summer?”
“It might have been crap and delivered in a whiny nasal twang,” Ed conceded, “but didn’t it impress you that I spoke without notes?”
“It might have done,” I replied, “if you didn’t go off to refill your water glass every two minutes to look at the notes you had hidden there.”
“Well what do you expect,” Ed sulked, “I’m only a working class boy who went to comprehensive school, not like that rich posh bastard Gove. As I explained in an article in the Metro recently, “Going to a state school in north London taught me about life and how to get on with people from all backgrounds. My background means I can feel the pain lots of people are feeling and the struggle in their lives. I went to my local comprehensive and that was an incredibly good education for me, not just about how to pass exams, but about life.””
“But wasn’t your mother the daughter of a billionaire Polish factory owner and wasn’t your father a professor of politics at the LSE,” I played Devil’s advocate, “ and didn’t they buy a house for £2 million in Primrose Hill so that you and David would be in the catchment area for the best comprehensive school in the country?”
“Your point being?” Ed replied.
“My point being that Gove was adopted at the age of four months by a fishmonger and his lab assistant wife who lived in a council house in Aberdeen and he obtained a full scholarship to a modest public school,” I replied.
“Exactly,” Ed scoffed, “unlike me, who went to a comprehensive school, Gove is a privileged public school boy who is completely out of touch with the real world and, outside politics, has never done a proper job.”
“But after leaving university didn’t Gove work for several years as a cub reporter at the Aberdeen Press and Journal?” I asked Ed. “and then get a job at the Times where he became a leader writer before leaving to become a Tory MP in 2005?”
“Exactly,” Ed replied, “apart from his brief seventeen year stint as a journalist Gove, like most Tory MPs, has never had a proper job outside of politics.”
“What about you?” I said.
“Unlike Gove I didn’t go straight into politics from university,” Ed replied, “but spent several weeks working as a researcher on “A Week in Politics” before daddy sorted me out an internship with Tony Benn. Uncle Tony then sorted me out a job as a political speechwriter and researcher for fellow working class MP Harriet Harman before I became an MP in my own right.”
“And now she’s your deputy,” I chuckled.
“Exactly,” Ed replied, “after the next election Harriet and I will be the first genuine working class Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister team in history.”