Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Everything we hold dear!

Conjure up three images that sum up Middle Britain. I can't think of a better three than these:



The Volvo estate, the tidy lawn and the Labrador. I'll grant that not all of the British middle class owns a Volvo, lawn and Labrador but they still play a vital role in making Middle England what it is. For as long as we've been able to afford it we've been buying them (or substitutes). Others have their ethnic dress or their culinary traditions, we have dogs and the gardens and cars needed to hold them.

Volvo estates are some of the hardest hit cars in the Government's Vehicle Excise Duty hike, Labradors are being turfed out of bed and breakfasts thanks to ludicrous EU food safety regulation and now Government reports are attacking our right to have gardens with lawns.

Our very identity is under attack.

10 comments:

I Albion said...

Middle Britain!
These all apply to England don't they?
Or like a lot of people,are you not sure of your identity?

Ian_QT said...

Um, I think Scottish and Welsh people quite like their cars, dogs and lawns as well, don't you?

Ian_QT said...

I've just spotted that rather oddly Sinclair uses "Middle Britain" at the top and "Middle England" later on. Take your pick!

Meg said...

Ok, first let me say that this is mostly a thought experiment and certainly not trying to draw a moral equivalency, but...

The three things you mentioned are being regulated, as I understand it, for public health reasons. Doesn't really seem to be a "they hate us for our freedoms" situation. Your response is not a rational argument for why these individual regulations are misguided, but instead the appeal to fear that "Our very identity is under attack."
This is the same language that conservative ethnic groups all over the world use when one of their traditions is criticized, regulated, or made illegal because it causes some harm. In the west, we hear it particularly often coming from Muslim groups. Our response, which I think you concur with most of the time, is "that's not a good enough reason when the tradition causes harm."
Why should "identity" be enough to protect a harmful British tradition but not a harmful Muslim tradition?
Full disclaimer: I have owned three labradors but am not favor of "but it's tradition!" arguments no matter who's making them.

Gracchi said...

Matt like the rest of your commenters- I think this isn't your greatest article. I have different reasons though- I'm not sure that I'm not middle whateverish to a fault- but I can't drive, get very bad hayfever and hate dogs- particularly bigger ones who tend to bowl me over.

Let labradors, lawns and volvos go the way of smoking :)

Gracchi said...

I raise a cup of tea to that!

Matthew Sinclair said...

Meg,

I'm not suggesting that they're being regulated for that reason. However, neither do I think these regulations address a serious harm.

I think that they are striking an unfortunate blow at iconic, and wonderful, elements of the British lifestyle. The unnecessary and unwelcome regulation is worse when it strikes at such things.

Henry, your middle class-ness is no match for your eccentricity.

James Higham said...

Never a truer word was spoken, Matt.

cramerj said...

What happened to the british icons of boiled cabbage, sunday closing and constipation?

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