General Article Celebrate your identity! That is, know your place

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By Brendan O’Neill

In a speech in London last night, spiked editor Brendan O’Neill debated Owen Jones, author of Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Classes, on who or what is giving the lower orders a rough time today. O’Neill’s opening comments are published below.

If you ever watch the later films of Mike Leigh, you will notice that all of them have a recurring character. From High Hopes through to Secrets & Lies through to Vera Drake, this character always, always makes an appearance.
And the character is that person who has left his or her working-class community. That person who has turned their back on their working-class roots and foolishly gone off in pursuit of the middle-class dream.
The character is usually a woman. She is always miserable and soulless. She lives in a big but heartless house, full of perfectly polished ornaments. And she is forever committing embarrassing social faux pas, which of course middle-class Mike Leigh fans find hilarious. Leaving aside Topsy...

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