I’m Alright Jack


Why are those who claim to speak for the working class so troubled by a working-class man speaking for himself?

For making the not unreasonable suggestion that foodbank users might benefit from education on how to cook meals on a budget, the Conservative MP Lee Anderson has been met with a series of furious charges: he is ‘uncaring’, ‘out of touch’, and – as his spit-flecked detractors are so fond of hissing – a Tory.

Well, in his own words, Anderson was ‘dragged up in Huthwaite’, worked down the pit all his life and didn’t have ‘two ha’pennies to rub together’ –  a background which one could hardly describe as being out of touch with the working man. Ordinarily, such backgrounds would be idealised and romanticised by the Left. They still lovingly talk about minors – sorry, miners – as if they are a kind of noble savage, cleansed by the soot of the pits like an ashen cross.

So why has Anderson fallen from their grace?

Anderson’s sins are twofold. First, he crossed the floor from Labour to the Conservatives; he’s betrayed his faith and in doing so has shown it to be a myth. Second, his talk about educating people to budget their meals sounds dangerously close to that of ‘personal responsibility’.

Socialists, like greedy pharmaceutical giants, rely on poverty being an incurable condition. As well as offering a cure, Anderson’s rising from poverty to politics is proof that people can cure themselves. He had to be silenced. And who better to silence him than the ever-vocal Jack Monroe?

Monroe is a food blogger and poverty activist. She has done admirable work creating books full of no doubt delicious recipes on a budget and raising funds to donate them to food banks. In person she is said to be sound, striving and, thanks much to her family, well-grounded – her MBE-winning father served in the British Army for seven years, then with the fire service for 30 years. In 2021, Monroe wrote that education is part of the food poverty problem. And yet, sue-happy Monroe recently launched a vicious attack against Anderson for making the very same point?

To hear Monroe speak in public, you’d think she was one of the most oppressed people of our time. Her Twitter feed is replete with streams of victimhood exhibitionism, streamed to a crowd of poverty porn addicts. Monroe’s cult of self-pity and self-righteousness relies on the impression that she is perpetually hard up – but is she? With a Patreon account of 724 members, and with membership tiers ranging from £3.50 to £44 per month, she is likely banking somewhere between £30,408 – £382,272 a year – and that’s to say nothing of her book royalties, promotional deals and media appearances. She’s not a victim, she’s a success story and should be more proud of her achievements. One suspects she’s another of these Patreon-skewed acts who says one thing to please her paying echo chamber but in real life toes a different, more accepting line. Alas, we have such characters on the Right too.

To have an anti-poverty campaigner attack a Tory MP is expected, but Anderson has received little support from his own benches. His problem is that he is an authentically working-class man in a Parliament that favours crude caricatures such as Jess Phillips and Angela Rayner. Sniffish Conservatives find his straight-talk to lack, as Stephen Daisley recently put it in the Spectator, ‘political communication’. Has it occurred to Daisley that people might be sick of sanitised political communications, and that they might find Anderson to be a breath of fresh air?

More Andersons please. Fewer ‘political communicators’. Fewer professional victims.

Monroe and Anderson should rendez-vous for a beer. They might actually work out a plan that will help those in poverty as the price crisis starts to really bite.

James Bembridge is Deputy Editor of Country Squire Magazine.