And as such I sit here today, a working class refugee trapped in my own "CAMP GUARDIAN" a strange land full of Liberal Middle Class wannabees whose lives, values and aspirations are all so alien to me.
But how do I define the working class of my birthright and ancestry?
Well I guess I would first of all want to add the important additive of "Decent" to the tag "Working Class" to explain my chosen heritage, and I would also describe my lost tribe as follows:
We were hard working decent folk with proud family and community roots, our hard graft and no nonsense outlook on life meant we had good job security, and for good measure we had strong trade unions to protect our employment status and rights.
We worked hard and played hard, not all drinkers by all means, but all willing and some more eager than others to spend thier fair share of time in the Working Men's Clubs and Local community pubs, mixing with our neighbours and participating in a wide range of community events and pastimes, a Monday to Friday toil followed by Friday or Saturday nights out, the football terraces on a Saturday afternoon, and then re enacting the same games ourselves on the parks on a Sunday morning.
We were the age of the "Likely Lads" the younger generation carbon copies of Tony Booth and Una Stubbs (Mike and Rita) from "Till death do us part" we were far closer to "Steptoe and Son" than "Mumford and Son" and we ruled the TV screens in the kitchen sink dramas of the 60's and early 70's
We also then had a Political Party of our own who understood us and believed in what we believed in decency, fairness and social justice. May it Rest in Peace
We lived both on council estates and in private housing in communities which were both mixed in their tenure and diverse in their wealth.
And before the far right sense an opening for their vile hate of anything non white we all danced to Tamla Motown in the 60's and Northern Soul in the 70's as Mods and Skinheads we moved to the sounds of Reggae and Ska. We rocked against racism and celebrated the "Red Wedge" between the racists and the realists
So what happened? Where did it all go wrong?
She also destroyed the trade Union movement as we knew it and the natural increase in labour mobility as the world became smaller drove down wages and created unemployment amongst the masses.
Once again before the far right try to blame immigrant labour we should remember that most economic migrants came from a lot closer to home than the wider commonwealth, as pits closed in the North then so the North South divide grew wider and the job market upped and moved to Middle and Southern England. Even "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" speaks with a Scottish Accent these days.
And of course their are many middle class office workers who have also been replaced by overseas call centres and UK Doctors and Engineers who cannot compete in wage terms with overseas trained graduates. So migration of labour wheresoever the migrants come from is not a simple class specific phenomenon
You see its never been about race, but it has always been about class.
We now have a so called "Underclass" left to fend for themselves and carry the blame for all of society's ills on their shoulders without having been afforded the education to understand why they are being blamed in the first place.
We have an Upper Class which just gets richer and richer and a great mass of people (probably as high as 70%) who all consider themselves to be the aspiring middle classes, the epiphany of Mondeo Man and Worcester Woman all scrambling over each other to climb up the slippery pole. They compete over school places for their young, creating an educational market that rewards conformity rather than celebrating diversity. Gone are the Grammar Schools which provided a vehicle for the bright youngsters from the wrong side of town or even the Comprehensives which provided an education for all built on community and place, rather than exam results and offsted reports.
So here I sit, alone in a crowd, my people all but extinct, with no party to represent my views and few neighbours who understand my loss. I don't want money, (beyond what I need to live on) and I would rather my children were happy in work with a roof over their heads than chasing dreams and collecting lifetime debts to try to out do the upper classes in the hope of supplanting them in the British hierarchy. As if!!
A quick look around the House of Commons when I was their between 1997 and 2005 taught me that not much has changed, and anyone watching the current documentaries on the British army in Afghanistan will have noticed that today's Army Captains come from the same schools and families as they did 100 years ago.
Perhaps John Lennon hit the nail on the head in "Working Class Hero" when he wrote
There's room at the top they are telling you still,And so that is where I am, I can't go back to my past, it has gone forever, I now live in an alien world amongst people who are probably just like me, but mourn the past less, I don't blame them, everybody is entitled to dream, "this time next week Rodney we will be millionaires!" But I do despise the people who have abandoned me and my people and left us to find our own way in the new world we now have to live in and I can't forgive those who divided the working classes and in doing so have left people behind with so little meaning in their lives all trapped at the bottom whilst seeing little chance for their escape.
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,
If you want to be like the folks on the hill,
And I remain determined to fight back against those from the Bullingdon Club and high society who want to proclaim that we can all be just like them, when most of us would rather stick red hot pokers up our jacksies than stoop so low as to be so empty and shallow as they are, the idle and feckless rich.
We still get together at times, us refugees, at the greasy spoon cafes or at the football, but we all know deep down that really the lives we had are now gone forever.