Downward mobility is the new British trend and the Sloane Rangers lead the wayby Peter York / February 19, 2015 / Leave a comment
Ann Barr, centre co-author of The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook, with the staff of Harpers and Queen in 1983: “we concentrated on the Sloane mindset, rituals and language.” Click below to see original images from the Official Sloane Ranger Handbook, all drawn by Natacha Ledwidge: A Tuesday in January and it’s BBC Radio Sheffield, their morning phone-in. They want me to comment on the spat between Chris “Captain Underpants” Bryant MP, Labour’s new Shadow Culture Secretary, and James Blunt, the poppet-sized Harrovian pop star. In a long newspaper interview, Bryant had wondered aloud why people like the Etonian actor Eddie Redmayne or Blunt seemed to get all the attention and rewards now. Where are today’s Albert Finneys and Glenda Jacksons, he’d asked; we can’t just go on producing more Downton Abbeys. Blunt, who clearly had a short fuse and hadn’t read the whole piece, came back in no time, calling Bryant “a classist gimp” who was motivated by the politics of jealousy. Nobody knew the trouble he’d seen; people had been horrible and said he was too posh to succeed in pop. But they weren’t bothered by that in success-loving America, it was Britain’s culture of envy—and so forth. Earlier that day, slender Evan Davis had been on Radio 4 trailing his next programme on The Bottom Line. It wasn’t his usual Silicon Valley entrepreneurs or British productivity problems. Instead he told us he was off to Davos to hear about the global issue of the moment: inequality. Later that morning—I was multi-tasking, writing, reading, listening—Winifred Robinson, the presenter of Radio 4’s consumer programme You and Yours, came on. I was expecting something about gas bills or insurance payouts, so I was taken aback when she asked “are you worried about rising social inequality? Call in and tell us.” Of course we were, we thought about nothing else, we wannabe policy wonks and thoughtful commentariat-types. But I wasn’t expecting it from Winifred. It’ll be on Gardener’s Question Time next. Inequality is the hot subject. We’ve had it from big academic grandees—Joseph Stiglitz in the United States, Frenchie Thomas Piketty, whose Capital in the 21st Century was a surprise worldwide bestseller last year. Social geographer Danny Dorling’s The 1% gave Brits all the numbers they needed. It’s been everywhere. There was the BBC’s Tatler series just before Christmas and their Rich season just after. There were a couple of duds there, but a strong two-parter from Jacques Peretti, The Super Rich and Us, argued that there was no such thing as “trickle-down” from the London super-rich to the rest of us and that successive Chancellors had used the super-rich as window dressing for the British economy. Suddenly the Rich, the Very Seriously Rich, were everywhere in media land. There was the dramatic imagery of central London’s big houses taken over by global plutocrats, and all those astonishing statistics about the richest 1,000 people in the country having more wealth than the poorest 40 per cent of households.