Will post-Brexit Britain return to upper-class snobbery?
After returning from my English vacation in June, I spent July creating a new children’s book, and reading Down and Out in Paris and London, by George Orwell. His memoir of the struggles involved with poverty in those two cities in the late twenties and early thirties is outstanding. It made me think of my life in England before immigrating to Canada in 1974. I was born and lived in England until my late twenties, so I’ve experienced the peculiarities of the British class system, and though Orwell doesn’t dwell on the divide between the classes, after reading his memoir, I was reminded of the difficulties being at the lower end of the class spectrum in England.
The Class System.
While the lower-working class looked down their noses at the under-class, the upper-working class detested the lower working-class. The lower-middle class were ignored by the middle-middle class, and the upper-middle class thought themselves superior to both lower and middle classes. Despite the snobbery of the upper-middle class, they were seen as inferior to the upper class. (Did you get all that?!). Teachers and doctors were considered gods and not to be questioned. People with a common accent were expected to refrain from endeavors that would place them above those with posh accents. Lower classes loved soccer: higher classes, golf, tennis, and the arts. Inherited wealth was glorified, whereas earned wealth was despised.
A loosening of the Class System.
My being a member of the lower-working class was one reason I left England to begin a new life abroad. Not until Britain joined the European Union did I notice a slackening of the binds that kept the lower classes in their place. For example, by the nineties, people with regional accents could be heard reading the news on a BBC television broadcast; an idea unheard of during my time in England. Irish, Welsh, and Scottish accents were now accepted, and embraced, in television dramas. The class system was modified to sound less elitist. For example, they now have the precariat (under-class), the emergent services (lower-working class), traditional workers (upper-working class), new affluent (lower-middle class), technical (middle-middle class), established (upper-middle class, and the elite (upper class). Apparently the class of a person is now determined solely by wage and not accent nor location. This, I believe, was due to Britain joining the EU, and the intermingling of British folks with other European nations. It had opened their minds.
But, what now? Might Brexit see a return to the previous class system in Britain, which, incidentally, had never been fully swept under the carpet. By limiting interaction with Europeans, will the English population once again revert to a more Victorian mindset where the so-called lower classes are despised, and opportunities denied? I dread it.
The popular TV drama Downton Abbey did not portray life between the classes accurately. In reality, M’lord or M’lady would never have spoken to the downstairs staff except the butler and ladies’ maids. The goings-on between the downstairs staff and the problems they encountered would not have reached upstairs. Truth is, upstairs were snobs, not the kind-hearted employers Downton Abbey led us to believe.
So, could it happen? Could the UK post-Brexit return to upper-class snobbery? After all, anything can happen behind closed doors.
Barbara Studham’s bio:
Barbara Studham, the memoir writer. I wrote my first #FASD memoir titled Two Decades of Diapers in 2014; my second #FASD memoir titled Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, The Teen Years in 2016. Both cover the twenty years I parented four grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Barbara Studham, the fiction writer. I also write fiction, including the English seaside series, Under the Shanklin Sky. Barbara Studham, the children’s FASD picture book creator. My latest creation is a children’s #FASD picture book series titled Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. See, THE SCHOOL DAY, FIDGET! and ADVOCATE! on AMAZON. Soon available: THE BIRTHDAY BASH. All books available from AMAZON.
Barbara Studham’s books are available from AMAZON.
Author blog: http://www.barbarastudham.com
FASD blog: http://www.challengedhope.com
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/barbarastudham