I’ve always loved Socialist Worker placards. And god knows, living and trying to get around our capital, I’ve seen enough of them down the decades - right from when I took to the streets for Rock Against Racism in 1978 to hear Steel Pulse and the Clash. With their urgent SWP imperatives: ‘fight’, ‘smash’, ‘demand’, ‘defy’ and their logo of the worker’s fist, it’s all the usual hand-to-hand combat from the front line of the class war.
On Saturday’s latest demo in central London - why don’t they give Bristol or Rochdale a try for a change? - there was a slightly different sign held by one female protester ‘Low achiever and proud of it. Fight Tory scum!’ This referred to the Tory MP Alan Duncan’s unfortunate contribution to the Panama Papers debate last week when he came up with the following: ‘Shouldn’t the Prime Minister’s critics really just snap out of their synthetic indignation and admit that their real point is that they hate anyone who’s even got a hint of wealth in their life? May I support the Prime Minister in fending off those who are attacking him, particularly in thinking of this place? Because if he doesn’t, we risk seeing a House of Commons which is stuffed full of low achievers, who hate enterprise, hate people who look after their own family and who know absolutely nothing about the outside world.’
This could, of course, have been far better put. But you can’t help but think he was on to something. However the news that the Labour party has turned down the offer of thirty grand from McDonald's to put a stand at their annual conference just about says all you need to know about the Corbynistas and business. And US fast food.
Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North, told the Sun on Sunday: ‘I’m exasperated that we should throw away £30,000 worth of sponsorship like this. It smacks of a snobby attitude towards fast-food restaurants and people who work or eat at them. McDonald’s may not be the trendy falafel bar that some people in politics like to hang out at but it’s enjoyed by families across the country.’ Not sure what a falafel bar is but we get Wes’s drift. McDonald's employs 97,000 people in the UK.
We’ve been here before on the class divides in food, as those who recall the legendary story about when Peter Mandelson mistook mushy peas for guacamole will remember. The truth is that for all the talk of Tory posh boys the class problems faced by Labour are just as bad. Who can forget the Emily Thornberry’s election campaign own goal about white van men and the union jack. Like Corbyn, Thornberry is very Islington.
On the subject of low achievement, when Boris Johnson willy-waved his way to the top of the revealed earnings league when he shared his tax return with us, my first thought was that the income tax he paid in one year covered both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell’s salaries. And Boris can and should feel proud of that. He should treat himself to a quarter pounder with cheese rather than a bucketful of Eton Mess.