This post was first published on the South Essex Heckler (see sidebar)
On Monday 15th June, lockdown restrictions were eased with a number of ‘non essential’ shops allowed to open, albeit with fairly strict physical distancing protocols in place. Obviously with limits on the number of shoppers allowed in a store, that will mean queues outside of the shops.
Images of queues outside the shops started to circulate on social media along with a fair few snarky comments about ‘rampant consumerism’. When it came to the queues outside the budget clothing chain, Primark, some posters on social media saw it as licence to vent their vile anti-working class prejudices.
Budget clothing chains aren’t an aspirational shopping destination. In an economy with a growing number of people on low incomes and in increasingly precarious forms of work, cheap clothing is the only option if they are to manage very tight budgets. Buying more durable but much more expensive items of clothing would throw that budget into disarray, leaving people with a choice between putting food on the table or buying that ‘nice’ T-shirt that will last a few years.
Not only that, if you have kids, they grow – it’s what they do. After two and a half months of lockdown and not being able to afford the more expensive online options, a trip to Primark to ensure the kids have clothes that will fit their growing bodies for a least a few months is not rampant consumerism, it’s a sodding necessity!
Somehow, we don’t think this will satisfy the judgemental shites who jump at any opportunity to have a go at working class people. All done from the comfort of the work at home office with all the necessities of life ordered online and delivered by some poor sod most likely employed on a zero hours contract. The kind of smug classism that really riles us up…
Then there’s this… On Sunday 7th June, a group of protesters in Bristol rightly removed the statue of the slaver Edward Colston from his plinth and dumped it a few hundred yards away in the Floating Harbour. The statue has since been retrieved and is in secure storage. Colston’s statue was just down the road from The Cenotaph. Baseless rumours started to circulate that protesters would be back the following weekend with intent to deface the war memorial.
This and countless other rumours led to mobilisations of people across the country last Saturday (13th June) to come out and defend war memorials alongside other statues. Basically, its an attempt to launch a divisive ‘culture war’. People duly turned up to ‘defend’ The Cenotaph in Bristol. This is a report of what happened – a report that includes coverage of a genuine attempt at dialogue between some of the local black community and the protesters: The man who stepped in to All Lives Matter protest says Bristol needs to come together.
We’re in a volatile period where divisions are all too easily getting inflamed. The actions of the former youth services manager and Bristol Rovers fan Delroy Hibbert in talking to the defenders to persuade them to not damage the placards left by protesters from the previous week and to defuse the situation have to be applauded. Without wanting to sound like a conspiracy theorist, you don’t have to dig too deeply to see that all sides are getting played at the moment with the aim of keeping us divided.
On the one hand, you have people like Delroy Hibbert doing their level best to defuse tensions that will further divide our class. On the other hand, you blatant anti-working class prejudice in the form of this papier mache statue that’s supposedly referencing the defenders who turned out last Saturday in Bristol: A new ‘statue’ has appeared next to Colston’s empty plinth.
Whoever conceived, constructed and placed this ‘statue’ needs to give their head/s a serious wobble. Whether it’s a forgotten estate on the outskirts of Basildon or one of the isolated estates on the southern fringes of Bristol, seeing a ‘statue’ like this sends out a clear signal that the Left think you’re scum. It’s classist shit like this that will drive disaffected working class people who also happen to be white towards the more reactionary elements in politics.
We’d to state that when we heard the news of Colston’s statue getting dumped in the Floating Harbour we let out a mighty cheer of celebration. We’ve also chipped in to the defence fund that’s been set up for the protesters. The papier mache ‘statue’ shown above with its lazy stereotype of working class people does nothing to serve the cause of the protesters, if anything, it undermines it.
Also, when we’re out on the streets and estates doing our best to win over hearts and minds, if the people we want to engage with feel that the ‘statue’ represents what we think of them, not only will they not listen to us, they may well decide to give us a slap as well!
People who sneer at the queues outside of Primark and think ‘statues’ like this are legitimate comment need to desist pronto, take a step back and reflect on how their actions and words will inflame an already volatile situation. If they don’t, they’re part of the problem and need to be dealt with accordingly.