Real life

My rich leftie neighbours must be in a state of psychotic denial — or stoned

Why else would they vote to wreck the economy on principle

16 May 2015

9:00 AM

16 May 2015

9:00 AM

The ‘I’m Voting For Chuka’ posters in my rich neighbours’ front windows pushed me over the edge. There is nothing so likely to galvanise one’s inner Tory than the sight of the biggest, poshest houses in the neighbourhood displaying left-wing conceitedness.

‘Of course they’re voting Labour, they’re the only ones who can afford to,’ said the builder (boy)friend, who had popped round to my house for supper. I know, I know. It’s confusing. But we are always going to be on-off, so everyone is going to just have to deal with it. And he is a beacon of common sense at election time, I can tell you. Just the sort of instinctive working-class right-winger you want around when the privileged lefties are marauding in the streets waving banners protesting about democracy when it delivers a result they don’t like.

Before the vote, he was wonderfully reassuring. I had been conflicted about this election, you may remember, because of HS2. By backing Cameron when he’s putting a high speed rail link past my parents’ back garden, wiping the value off their home and, so far, denying them a penny in compensation, I am effectively making myself the proverbial turkey voting for Christmas.

If and when my family used their stubby pencils to put an x in that particular box it was going to cost us the better part of half a million quid. I’m not sure what my parents did in the end. I haven’t dared ask. They were extremely upset about the whole sorry dilemma.

But it was the Chuka posters that clinched it for me. There they were, bright yellow and red Vote Labour signs displayed in the windows of some of the swankiest houses in south London.

I used to walk past and stare into the windows, hoping to get some clue as to the sorts of people who were living in such a strange state of psychotic denial. Most of the houses looked to me like they were pushing towards the £2 million mark, thus qualifying them for Miliband’s mansion tax. As I stared into the hallway of one particular ‘mansion’, clocking a rack of posh coats and a long, elegant umbrella, I turned to the spaniel and said, ‘What are these people on? Is there something in the water round here?’


It occurred to me that I may only still be sane because I never drink from the tap, being addicted to Highland Spring. Then again, am I sane if I vote for my family to lose half a million quid? Although, Labour would build HS2 anyway. And ruin the economy. And strengthen the ban on hunting. And make my gundog illegal, in all likelihood.

It was all most befuddling. But, on balance, I had become more depressed about the attitude of my lefty neighbours wanting to wreck the economy on principle, than by the prospect of HS2 ruining my life and my parents’ lives. I call that selfless, but I don’t want to blow my own trumpet.

In fact, the builder and I were so depressed that the London luvvies were indicative of the thinking nationwide that we made advanced plans to emigrate to the South of France if the vote went that way.

We were pretty on edge. There were a few close calls, like when a Labour canvasser came up my path one night as the builder was standing in the porch taking his shoes off. ‘Can I just give you one of these?’ she said, holding out a Chuka leaflet.

‘No, you can’t!’ snapped the builder. ‘You can take it away. I’m working-class trash who needs a job. Now sod off.’

I fantasised about doctoring a Chuka poster with a black marker pen, in order to display it in my window, thus: ‘I’m voting to Chuka My Money Away!’

Finally, the builder walked me to the polling station with the spaniel straining at the leash. ‘You see, Cydney knows. You think Labour are going to allow working corkers? She’ll be out of a job and on benefits.’

‘Gosh,’ said a lady standing outside the polling station looking at the list, ‘aren’t there a lot of candidates?’

Halfway down, there was a man standing for the Cannabis Is Less Harmful Than Alcohol party.

‘That’s it!’ said the builder. ‘That’s what all the rich lefties are on round here!’

Since then, of course, they have been very subdued. The morning after, I passed two ladies in jogging gear walking their pooches on the Common and heard one say, in a cut-glass accent, ‘Oh, weren’t you depressed, daaarling, when you woke up this morning and heard the awful news?’

‘Oh, yah!’ said the other. Then their conversation blessedly faded away as they power-whinged into the distance, their little designer lap dogs yapping round their ankles.

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  • Don Rushforth

    Was this overheard in Waitrose?

  • venyanamore

    They might be nice houses, but they are still in South London

  • Hywel Griffith

    So I’ve started following The Spectator and The Daily Telegraph to try and break out of my Lefty social media bubble and learn something new! … but articles like this haven’t really helped me understand the arguments of Right… On this point:

    “Most of the houses looked to me like they were pushing towards the £2 million mark, thus qualifying them for Miliband’s mansion tax. As I stared into the hallway of one particular ‘mansion’, clocking a rack of posh coats and a long, elegant umbrella, I turned to the spaniel and said, ‘What are these people on? Is there something in the water round here?’”

    Why is it viewed as crazy if you are wealthy and would happily vote to move to a higher tax/higher spend economy – like the ones at the top of the OECD’s Better Life Index – even if it means taking some of your personal wealth and investing it in society/paying down the deficit?

    • Newton Unthank

      Worry not, you will gradually become accustomed to the crazy through-the-looking-glass world of the British Right, where words mean what we want them to mean and people can believe six impossible things before breakfast.

    • Verbatim

      1. The answer is that most of them are wealthy enough to afford accountants and lawyers who help them escape the majority of their tax bills. They can say what they like knowing it won’t affect them financially, but it WILL make them feel better about themselves NOT contributing.

      2. Our income and taxation system is entirely predicated on nobody ever being able to get THAT wealthy because they’ll inevitably fall into a tax bracket which prevents wealth from ever amassing to that extent in the first place. My own accountant told me that years ago, when I was in business.

      3. Many of these people are just plain shallow. Full stop. They’d give as much attention to politics as they would last week’s tennis match. Politics would be just another designer label to them, and about as meaningful.

      So, drill down and think about what I’ve said in my first two paragraphs.

      • Hywel Griffith

        Thanks for replying Verbatim. Some thoughts on those three points:

        1. If a wealthy person did not use tax-planning and could prove they pay their full tax bill out of a sense of duty, would that mean they were less hypocritical?

        2. What are you considering as “THAT wealthy”? There are multi-billionaires in the UK who have amassed that level of wealth under our income and taxation system. So it is doesn’t seem to ensure nobody amasses huge sums of personal wealth.

        3. I think that’s a generalisation that would have to be questioned on an individual basis – even if many wealthy people are shallow and not really committed to political change, that doesn’t mean anyone who is wealthy and campaigning for a fairer society should be demonised or sidelined as a hypocrite on principle.

        Genuinely good food for thought though!

        • Verbatim

          I think my point 3 is alarmingly correct, going by articles one reads in newspapers about “yummy mummies” and “doctor’s wives”. I speak here about the female vote. And, remember, they’re 50% of the vote. My nephew is a wealthy solicitor in a Sydney international legal practice. He’s been ‘headhunted’ by our Labor party because of his ‘exquisite credentials and Labor values”. Private school educated, university medal, fabulous income but only identifies with “progressive” issues (never married, 2 children from this relationship). I’ve seen him in discussions at various family get-togethers and he’s a giant poser with no real notion of what it’s like out there for ordinary folks, even less caring about what these “rednecks” think. Again, I suggest they’ll never be living in his backyard, so he enjoys the ‘advantages’ of never having had a beer can hurled at him at the cricket, never had drugs sold out on his street, nor anybody interfere with his own kids’ quality of life. Do you think that’s a reasonable basis on which to develop one’s philosophies for a whole society, or do you think it smacks of “ivory tower” mentality? And he falls into line with his parents, who are both retired high-school teachers who don’t want to discuss ‘business’ because it’s a bad word and if you don’t agree with “progressives” then you are an unintelligent redneck without the ‘right’ values.

          As to the issue you raise in Point 1, I would say that it’s paradoxical to posit that a ‘if a rich person’ doesn’t use tax planning…..because that’s the very reason they’re rich in the first place. In Australia we call these “Pitt Street” farmers – people who buy businesses that run at a loss so they can write all their ‘expenditure’ off to that ‘failing’ business.

          My point 2 is axiomatic. If one pays the high levels of taxation required by the PAYE SYSTEM (and that’s key here, because the middle class are sitting ducks for taxation), there is no possible way they can get ahead. My (ex lecturer in Economics) accountant, a very good practitioner on the ground, used to smile at me and say,
          “no matter what people say, if one is paying their fair share of taxation at the proper rate there is no possible way of amassing wealth”.

          There are few really genuinely philanthropic and altruistic people in this world, merely pressure groups who want society shaped in their own image. This is cynical, yes, but I’ve been in business and around long enough to identify truckloads of bullshit when I see/smell it.

          You ask what I mean by ‘wealth’. I suggest anyone with a property over 2 million pounds, with attendant luxury cars, designer clothing, expensive holidays etc. is in that class and almost certainly he/she (probably both) has multiple trust accounts, tax ‘write-offs’ and other means of reducing income. Not to mention ‘failing to declare’, foreign bank accounts and the like. It’s not that difficult to do, sir.

          • Hywel Griffith

            Thanks again for your reply. Before I respond to some of the issues – could I just confirm I’m reading this right: “I would say that it’s paradoxical to posit that a ‘if a rich person’ doesn’t use tax planning… that’s the very reason they’re rich in the first place.”

            So you would say that no-one can become rich under our current tax system without tax-planning (using “multiple trust accounts, tax ‘write-offs’ and other means of reducing income. Not to mention ‘failing to declare’, foreign bank accounts and the like.”) If someone does not use any of those, they cannot become rich by the definition of wealth you’ve given?

            In other words, there are no legitimately wealthy people who have played by the rules?

          • Verbatim

            Sir, it’s the best kept secret in the world. And I stand by my point after over 60 years on this planet, running a huge agricultural enterprise and now managing my own super fund. Most use ‘legitimate’ tools, or loopholes, in taxation law to avoid taxation – yes. Those who do not are considered to be naive or just plain amateur. Others just stuff money under the floor and say they never earned it (my neighbour!).

            Your words “the rules” are ambiguous too. Because what, in fact, are those “rules”? This raises a myriad of questions.

            It’s a great discussion to have, and I’m not in the least a class warrior. I’m happy for people to be successful, but I despise hypocrisy. You see just so much of it. Give me the genuine person who has values and beliefs who is prepared to put his money where his mouth is. You’ll find them few and far between, I’m sorry to say.

            May I also make an observation. Looking at ‘wealth’ on a street by street basis can also be deceiving because so much of it is leveraged; i.e. belongs to the bank. As my (ex businesswoman) sister always says when she sees big-shots on TV, “that ‘tie’s’ company is entirely owned by the bank yet he makes out he’s personally wealthy”! By God, she’s right. She calls them “ties”.

          • Hywel Griffith

            Oh no I definitely agree with you! just confirming that, and pleased to have found a point of agreement across the divide!

            I agree that tax-planning is unfair (because as you say, only those who can afford the accountants/lawyers to help them avoid/evade tax can do it, the rest of us have to pay) and I would agree that most great fortunes have been accumulated using these tools.

            I suppose the question is what to do about it! What are your thoughts on that? It seems to me that when tax planning is so accessible to the rich, it not only undermines our tax system but in a way our democracy. Would you agree?

          • Verbatim

            Sir, I would absolutely agree since I have 4 very hard-working adult children paying that tax as we speak. Two of them are in businesses working 24/7 and running themselves into the ground, BUT one of these is getting good advice from another successful businessman who is equipping my son with the tools for financial success. I have cautioned him about the morals of this ‘adviser’ and that he’s not to be trusted. There’s the clue right there – ‘not to be trusted’.

            What to do about it, because I grow angry at my children having the middle class PAYE tax burden when my neighbour can afford a new BMW every other year. (It wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t ‘functionally illiterate’!!). The first thing to do about it, sir, is to have the conversation out in the open. This will mean people who’ve been in business, like myself, ‘fessing up about what they know.

            Secondly, once you disincentivise work for people because of excess welfare paid to people who do nothing you’ll only encourage more “manipulation” of the tax system. It has to be a whole-of-the-economy discussion.

            “Entitlement” is another bug-bear of people who work long hours in their own businesses and have to use expensive accounts to keep their earnings. I could tell you stories which would curl your hair about things which go on with business and government forcing on them more and more of the burden of retirement, redundancy, sick and holiday leave when they have none of these things themselves. As I say, a ‘whole of economy’ discussion and nothing short of it will suffice.

            And now I must go shopping at my supermarket in Vienna!

          • Des Demona

            Mr verbatim and Mr Griffith thank you for a reasoned and polite debate. Such a refreshing change.

          • Verbatim

            Thanks so much. My interest is entirely in engaging in the political debate and my eldest son does too. We both belong to the Institute of Public Affairs in Australia which is a conservative think tank.

            http://www.ipa.org.au/

            I think you also have one in the UK. Keep the dream alive!!

          • Colonel Mustard

            You should try it.

          • Des Demona

            I suspect is was –
            Colonel Mustard
            In the Speccie
            With the hypocrisy.

  • RealSocrates

    If you and your family had voted for UKIP you could have at least voted for a Party committed to NOT building the HS2 – part of the Trans European Network for Transport directive.

  • BigCheddar

    Good piece, enjoyed it thanks. I share your incredulity. I’m also incredulous at how the Speccy allow their comments section to be stalked by self deluded lefties?

    • Max Permissible

      Well, just flag any comments by self-deluded Lefties and eventually if enough people follow suit they’ll be deleted.

      • TimeandtheRani

        Hmm. This is kinda how THEY view free speech on the internet. Best not to follow in that direction.

      • Shazza

        Nah. Unlike them, we believe in free speech.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Probably because their editorial office seems to be haunted by self-deluded lefties. The magazine has moved away from being robustly conservative.

      • John Bindon

        Charles Moore ? Bruce Anderson ? Delingpole ? Young ? Martin Vander Weyer? James Forsyth ? Who are these self-deluded lefties exactly ?

        • Julian Tanaka

          Penny Laurie or something.

    • Aporia

      Er, because the Speccie is not the right-wing equivalent of CiF. That’s a shameful road to go down.

      Always useful/entertaining to know what the other side are thinking, too.

      • Maureen Fisher

        Indeed it is. We tolerate “diversity” unlike them.

  • evad666

    In Media debates the quiet confidence of UKIP candidates impressed as they refused to join in with the left right paradigm.

  • Verbatim

    I noticed, when reading the vote breakdown in the weekend UK Telegraph, that Hampstead was a Labour stronghold. The hypocrisy of this is nauseating; these people wouldn’t even know how to speak to a real working class person, let alone show any understanding or empathy about their issues, much less wanting them to live next door. I suspect the real reasons for the Labour ascendency in that part of London is;

    1. Trendy conformity;
    2. “Progressive” views – aka “all about me” in the contest about sexuality, ‘free education’,’free’ health (a lot of the Hampsteaders will be doctors!), ‘climate change’, green issues, the ‘yarts’, open and porous borders (knowing none is going to live in Hampstead). – whether or not these are actually part of the Labour platform. From the smug, safe and comfortable distance of expensive housing these clowns try to influence social policy, while knowing nothing whatsoever about real politics.

    • Des Demona

      and then you go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like da deeee deee.

    • Dominic Stockford

      And their MP used to be a wealthy actress turned leftie luvvie too.

      • Verbatim

        Jackson!! It’s the “new” working class!! But she’s never had ANY class!!

        • Landphil

          Just a touch.

    • willshome

      God forbid a small section of the wealthy vote for justice against their own financial self-interest. Hampstead down south and the whole of Scotland – don’t they know what’s expected of them?

      • Verbatim

        “A small section”!? Look again.

  • ‘ere we go

    Rather gormless article. Does the builder boyfriend like line dancing?

    • Callipygian

      She threw him over. Get with the times.

  • Plugs Muttley

    “I fantasised about doctoring a Chuka poster with a black marker pen, in order to display it in my window, thus: ‘I’m voting to Chuka My Money Away!’”

    I’m pretty sure most of this feature is a fantasy, a sad and deluded one.

  • PerplexedSardine

    “… I never drink from the tap, being addicted to Highland Spring.”

    Good heavens, it’s been a long time since the Most Bourgoise Sentiment Award has gone to someone who didn’t write for the Guardian, “Daaarling”.

  • NickyG

    So it is inconceivable for someone who is reasonably wealthy to be more concerned about people being evicted from their homes due to poverty than about someone’s parents losing half a million from the value of their house?

    Empathy is something of value – not something to be ridiculed.

    • Verbatim

      Oh dear, this IS naive.

      • NickyG

        No – it is not naive. From what I can gather through reading articles in the right wing press, those on the right have got absolutely no idea what ‘left’ actually means. Normally it goes along the lines of ‘champagne socialists’ ‘people who want something for nothing’ ‘bludgers’ ‘lazy’, etc. When in actual fact, those on the left want exactly the same as those on the right – to have aspiration in life, to live in a healthy society and for there to be enough well paid work to ensure everyone can stand on their own two feet. However you seem to know all about it, so far be it from me to shatter your prejudice and condescention.

        • Verbatim

          I guess I’m decades older than you are and have seen it all!! In this discussion we were specially referring to the wealthy lefties who live in suburbs like Hampstead and who wouldn’t know somebody from the working class if they stumbled over them – much less find things in common to talk about!!

          I still think you’re naive. And you can call my considerable life experience “prejudice and condescension” if it makes you feel better about yourself. I’ve been around pretentious lefties my whole life and almost none of them would put their money where their mouths are. I’ll go further and suggest NONE of them would.

          And I don’t think for one minute they want the same things as the people more generally on the right; they expect others to pay for them and they want a society where there are no rules or lines to be drawn where we can say, “OK, that’s it; no further negotiation – we have rules and those rules remain”. It’s the constant bending of any ‘rules’ which has turned society into a free-for-all and a hell of a lot of people feel this way too. We want a society where something stands for something and a person can speak without feeling threatened by the thought-police from the Left.

          • John Bindon

            But you are not decades older than me and I agree with NickyG. Of course you don’t have to be poor to have a social conscience. Many rich or well-off people do. However, I would agree with you about the archetypal “pretentious lefties” that you have in mind. Horrible people.

          • Verbatim

            I take your point: I simply say these concerned and altruistic people are in the very tiny numbers. There is no such thing as real altruism of the ‘put your money where your mouth is” kind. Please identify some of these “many rich” and philanthropic individuals from the Left. I know Gates is philanthropic and probably from the left (progressive) side of US politics but, if truth be told, this side of politics didn’t help him one iota when he was establishing Microsoft.

            But thanks for your comments and being polite!! I argue specifically with your “many people” comment.

          • John Bindon

            Being polite should be a given.I simply refuse to be someone who shouts loudly on the internet. Yes, Gates is one. Paul Newman was another man I always admired. More recently the footballer Mesut Ozil gave away his $300k world cup winnings to charity. And my old boss – who earned a fortune – is a lovely man and completely and utterly unconcered with material things. But making lists is a bit dull and uninspiring and frankly who knows exactly what rich left-leaning people do in an anonymous fashion? It stands to reason that plenty of them do good things.

          • Verbatim

            Yes, there’s a few on your list out of potential millions and millions. And the conservative wealthy give generously to the arts etc., as well.

            I cannot rationalize somebody who was successful enough to ‘earn a fortune’ not being interested in material things – unless making money was a game, which it is for many people.

            Thanks for the comments.

  • GraveDave

    What a load of bollocks. She made it up. And you all fell for it.

    • Kit Ingoldby

      Rings true to me. The richest people I know are lefties. The working class ones I know, voted Conservative.

  • I like a lot of the Spectator’s writers but Melissa Kite isn’t one of them. She sounds very pleased with herself. She has the style of a leftist while being of the right, sort of. I say ‘sort of’ because her conservatism sounds to me like the greedy self-interested kind, the kind that leftists invariably accuse all conservatives of.

  • Frankie James

    I’m ‘working class’,earn 20k a year if lucky,live up North and I voted for the Cons.
    I totally agree with this piece,these people live on another planet,would be funny if they weren’t so dangerous.
    It will be a cold day in hell before I vote for Labour again.

    • Callipygian

      You hang in there, Frankie: you and yours will benefit and so will the country. —Cheers from a daughter of the Enlightenment

    • willshome

      Say goodbye to your NHS mate. Labour wouldn’t have been much better but this is going to be a nightmare.

      • Frankie James

        A few less free boob jobs wouldn’t hurt. I do share your concerns though but fear,either way with this TTIP trade deal between the EU and US that things will change anyway.

      • Maureen Fisher

        Ludicrous. The Tories have pledged 8 billion to the NHS.

      • James

        People like you with your hyperbole are the reason the Tories won. The electorate hear the scaremongering, then go onto hospital, and what they experience is entirely different to what they’re told.

      • Cyril Sneer

        Typical lefty bitter at defeat hysteria.

    • bugalugs2

      But don’t you get a nice warm glow of comradely solidarity knowing that the taxes you pay are going to keep them in far greater luxury, with far better pensions, than you’ll ever be able to afford?

      Remember, it’s a hard job being the self-selected intelligentsia in the vanguard of the workers’ revolution!

      • Frankie James

        I get a nice warm glow knowing I don’t support a party that attacks countries based on lies or one that turns a blind eye the the mass abuse of young teenage girls.
        Not that any of the other options are much better though,a sad state of affairs.

  • NickyG

    OK so to make the conversation a bit more constructive. At present people who work on minimum wage don’t earn enough to pay for the cost of rent, food and power. Whether you are left or right, this is a problem. At present those wages are topped up with tax credits, which subsidise employers and landlords, but, as the Tories want to reduce the deficit, benefits are being reduced which is going to put even more of a strain on people who are struggling. It isn’t really fair to make people suffer for what is essntially an economic problem – so how is the best way to deal with this?

    I think one of the biggest problems with the left/right narrative is that it distracts everybody and stops us addressing the root cause of issues.

  • Cymrugel

    I have read some flatulent pieces in the Speccie in my time but this beats the band.

    I mean did she even bother rto get out of bed to write this?

    Are we seriously expected to believe the silly mare has a working class builder boyfriend who just happens to echo her own right wing views back at her?

    Do the subs on this rag think we are all completely stupid?

    • Maureen Fisher

      She’s been with the guy for ages and puts pics of him on Twitter!

  • Maureen Fisher

    Your builder boyfriend speaks truth as always. Glad he’s back!

  • little islander

    You could afford emigration to France. For 2?

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