The aisles in Asda are rife with gammon. I’m acutely aware of this depressing fact as I place a bottle of semi-skimmed milk in my basket.
There’s a commonly held view among the left that the working class are unimpeachable. Allow me to offer a counter argument. As far as I’m concerned they are not some sort of holy cow. Yes I’m fully aware of the fact that many of them feel alienated by mainstream politics and irked by the middle class and their unhealthy obsession with political correctness, but now is not the time to embrace reactionary beliefs. You are better than that.
Above all, learn some history. What’s more, if you’re going to engage in political debate, at the very least develop some critical thinking, which includes the knowledge that billionaire press barons are not your friends. In particular, bear in mind that it was Joseph Goebbels who said that the press are ‘a great keyboard on which the government can play.’ Naivety is not going to help you navigate social media either, with its patently false narratives of Muslims objecting to the sale of Easter eggs or Remembrance Day poppies.
As an intellectual I want my class – the working class – to be admirable and, above all, incorruptible. Instead, there’s a sizeable contingent who lack even a modicum of class consciousness, and are no better than Marx’s lumpenproletariat. Easily swayed by the crudest propaganda, they have justly earned the sobriquet of gammon.
Naturally, the gammons are unhappy about this nomenclature and resort to playing the classist and racist card whenever anyone dares to label them in this fashion. The accusation of racism is utterly preposterous and need not detain us for long. So they’re offended by a word are they? It’s a playground insult is it? Well of course it’s meant to be pejorative! Apparently employing the word gammon is a sign of arrogance on my part but it’s all right for them to label their opponents a cuck, soy boy, remoaner, cultural Marxist, SJW, virtue signaller or libtard.
For the avoidance of doubt, the word gammon is about as racist as calling a person with ginger hair a carrot top. It’s no different from redneck in that respect. Indeed, it’s hard to tell if this is genuine or simply faux outrage. The hypocrisy is all the more breathtaking given the way in which liberals and those on the left are regularly branded as snowflakes. In other words, they can dish it out but they certainly can’t take it.
On my progress through the store I half expect to see one of their number rummaging through the reduced price products, though perhaps this is wishful thinking on my part. For in the main the gammon of the species, despite nearing his best-before date, is not short of a bob or two. Theoretically, he might have taken his first step on the property ladder by exercising his right to buy his council house and will have been further enriched if he was able to invest in the former state-owned utilities such as British Telecom and British Gas once the Conservatives privatised them.
With thoughts of his own demise uppermost in his mind, why should he pay heed to the fate of the younger generation? In any case, climate change is a hoax and Greta Thunberg, who’d be better off in school, is a useful idiot funded by George Soros – insert antisemitic trope here. You can be sure that our gammon admires Donald Trump and his MAGA slogan. On the other hand, the supporters of Extinction Rebellion, CND and Greenpeace are domestic terrorists who should, at the very least, be imprisoned for recklessly endangering the lives of the general public.
The gammon ideology is all about victim blaming. The poor are poor because they are inherently lazy and spend what little they have on booze and fags. If you work in a minimum wage job get a better one. Although the gammon is an opinionated individual, he tends to keep these views to himself, only venturing to share them in the company of fellow travellers or at a safe distance on social media where he can dogpile dissenting voices. In many ways he is one of the pod people in Jack Finney’s The Body Snatchers.
‘Britain for the British’ is the gammonista rallying cry. Pounds and ounces not kilos and grams. Gollywogs not gender neutral dolls. ‘Get Brexit Done’ hand in hand with a snatch of ‘God Save the Queen’. Their religion of choice is Christianity and their historical icons are Boadicea and Saint George. If Tommy Robinson is their Ernst Röhm, Katie Hopkins is their Magda Goebbels.
Being gammon is as much a mental state as it is a physical one. Hence patriotism becomes jingoism, which then morphs into xenophobia and racism. A concern about immigration subtly elides into fear of the Other and eventually out-and-out prejudice. One thing in particular dominates gammon thinking, namely the unshakeable belief that foreigners – especially brown-skinned ones – are overrunning the country. The image that comes to mind is the ghost ship in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre sailing down the canal towards Wismar where it disgorges its horde of squeaking rats, followed by the figure of Count Dracula lugging his black coffin ashore. The gammon version of this influx is more prosaic – the invaders arrive on board a North Sea ferry, having concealed themselves inside the back of a lorry.
What the gammons fail to comprehend is that the dark actors who actually run the show like some psychological warfare operation have convinced them to vote against their own interests, especially when it comes to a no-deal Brexit. The Brexit memes they so assiduously propagate have probably been spawned in some Soviet bot farm. After all, a disunited European Community and a weakened United Kingdom is music to the ears of Putin and the oligarchs.
When it comes to right wing memes it’s the usual suspects to blame for their creation, and the gammons help in their dissemination. Suzan Walsh, a Conservative Party Information Officer (for ‘information’ read ‘propaganda’) was responsible for one such meme which shows a middle-aged woman – Catherine Finney – standing on her doorstep where she is giving Jeremy Corbyn a two-fingered salute. It’s probably been shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter. The problem is that the V-sign is the result of crude image manipulation – the original photograph shows the same woman giving a clenched fist salute. The thing is, the fake image has now become reality.
Socialism is the enemy of the gammon brigade, even though they have no problem using the state controlled NHS when it suits them. They also have an obsession with the 1970s because of what they perceive as uncontrolled trade union power during that period and this era is often cited as a time crippled by strikes. The reality is that there were fewer days lost to industrial action in the 1970s than there were under the first two Thatcher administrations in the 1980s, but they are never ones to let reality get in the way of fiction. My observation would therefore be summarily dismissed as fake news.
The typical gammon is more likely to share posts about Dianne Abbot or Muslim grooming gangs and be a member of Facebook groups like Albion First. Abbot is a prime hate figure along with the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. The former ticks all the boxes – she’s someone who originates from a working-class Jamaican family and who became the first black female MP. Black, female and university-educated – all three characteristics are more than enough to enrage any self-respecting gammon who tends to have been educated at ‘the school of hard knocks’ or ‘the university of life’.
But let’s return to the Brexit referendum. I think it’s fair to say that a swathe of alienated individuals living in those neglected parts of our country were only too happy to weaponise it to their advantage. In their hands it became a potent weapon with which they could bludgeon their oppressors. And it was wielded with such devastating effect that it caused a seismic rift. Cameron, who had engineered the referendum as a means to appease the extremists in his divided party, was hoist with his own petard. It was beautiful to behold, appealing to my sense of schadenfreude.
To have voted for Brexit, however, does not make you a gammon. Let’s be clear, being gammon is not solely a working class phenomenon since there are plenty in the middle class who subscribe to the same ideology. However, it follows that if you are a gammon you most definitely voted for Brexit.
What about me, then? After all I’m working class, over sixty and a white male who despises the neo-liberal and anti-democratic nature of the EU – I’m with Costas Lapavitsas on that score. If you want to know what is wrong with that institution he has cogently articulated the case, citing the way in which it promotes austerity through the common currency and how convergence is a myth – there is only divergence. The trouble is that the right have hijacked the Brexit argument from the left. Well, the point is that the gammon is not defined solely on the basis of whether or not he voted for Brexit. That’s to be over simplistic. He’s not a monolithic construct.
Although there’s a propensity to be a gammon if you did vote for Brexit that’s all it is – a propensity. What makes me different, I would argue, is education. The more educated you are the less likely you are to become a gammon. The figures are truly mind-boggling. Of those people with an undergraduate degree or higher qualification only 29 per cent voted Tory at the last general election. By contrast, when it comes to people with GCSEs or no qualifications at all, 58 per cent of them voted Tory. Of all the available statistics, this one tells you everything you need to know.
It follows that highly educated people are better equipped to cut through the bullshit and the lies, less inclined to get their news from the BBC and less likely to read The Sun, the Daily Mail or the Daily Express. That’s one of the reasons why the gammons despise education and expert opinion. Ideally, they’d like to purge schools and universities of their left wing elements, a tactic that harks bark to the Enabling Act of 1933 in Nazi Germany.
When I reach the checkout it’s almost inevitable that I see one of the gammon tabloid newspapers of choice – it’s a copy of the Express – lying there on the rubber conveyor belt like a dog turd on a clean stretch of pavement. The obvious question to ask is whether the purchaser of that rag does so because its political beliefs align with his own. You’d have to follow the logic of that supposition. After all, someone who buys a copy of the Morning Star is surely conversant with its political slant. Somehow you can’t imagine your typical Sun reader fulminating at the paper’s treatment of the Labour Party, its enthusiastic support for the monarchy or its antipathy towards Johnny foreigner. Even so, not every gammon is a card-carrying Nazi.
For the past twenty years Asda has been a subsidiary of its parent company – the American-owned retail giant Walmart. Quite recently they imposed a new inflexible contract – contract 6 – on their UK workforce. It removed paid breaks and allowed the company to dictate start and finish times and even alter shift patterns at a whim. You can bet your bottom dollar that the gammons do not share my outrage at such reprehensible behaviour.
I don’t buy Asda own brands, which no doubt makes me a snob. In truth I prefer Marks & Spencer, and as a result have been labelled a champagne socialist, despite the fact that I earn less than £20,000, don’t smoke, don’t own a car, cycle to work and can’t afford to go on holidays abroad. Hence it is that I am able to purchase certain luxury items of food. One wonders if there is a contrasting phrase for those on the right who hail from the working class? A beans on toast Tory? A Carling Conservative?
As I leave the supermarket with my bag of groceries I scan the customer car park and breathe a sigh of relief.
Thankfully, no large seedpods are being unloaded from any trucks. You can’t be too careful.