‘The Most Divisive Word In Britain’? (Hint: It’s Not Blair)

Words have the power we invest in them. This one, almost a decade old and celebrated in the finest episodes of Doctor Who (in our opinion), is causing a bit of a stir. Aside from centuries of class division supported by social complexes ranging from accents to red bricks, one little word summons potential unseemliness.

Maybe some of our friends across the pond can sort it out. Here it is.


  1. DrLeoStrauss says

    @jamie Jaime, thanks. Very elegant prose. Makes sense that it’s a marketing ploy at heart given our times.

    All really should make a point of seeing Jaime’s ‘Blood & Treasure’ on the roll to the right. Funny and insightful.

  2. says

    It’s a bit of a media bubble. There’s a lot less use of chav now than there was a few years ago and it was always pretty much a southern thing anyway – a related issue is that the UK doesn’t stretch much beyond the London commuter belt as far as supposedly national media is concerned. Everywhere else is a sort of Federally Adminstered Tribal Area. Round here the term is “scallies”, often coupled with the designation “Salford”. But that’s my trans-Irwell bias.

    I’ve not read the book but I think Owen Jones’ point is that we’re seeing a general demonisation of working class people to create a permissive political environment for removing publicly provided goods from the population at large. This is true up to a point, but insults like these are usually invented by working class people anyway as a way of describing rougher neighbours: as they used to say in my hometown “X is rougher than a badger’s arse.”

    The contempt is real enough, sometimes merited but massively overgeneralised. I think the book is a bit of policy entrepreneurship trying to reheat the iron by striking it again. Good luck to the author, I guess, but it all smells of building media equity.
    jamie recently posted..Thursday North Korean non-music link

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