George Orwell, the cop and ‘the evil poor’
Is it just me or is there something perverse about giving any award that bears the name of George Orwell to a cop who refers to ‘the evil poor‘?
Night Jack is an eloquently written and at times gripping blog but its prejudice wouldn’t be out of place in the Daily Mail, with its hackneyed division of the working class into the respectable and the undeserving.
The respectable working class according to Night Jack are defined by ‘lots of neat gardens, washing hung out to dry, hardly a piece of litter, happy laughing kids playing out, people washing their cars’. The ‘evil poor’ on the other hand are:
Kappa clad, drugged up, workshy, wasters swaggering through the town centre streets with a can of lager in the one hand and a bull mastiff on a string in the other. They aren’t out looking for a job or a chance in life let alone a wash. They are just looking to do you over, nick your stuff, sell you stolen stuff and drugs, take the next drugs and collect the next dole. The attendant girls aren’t much better, shrieking complicit harpies who will all end up looking grey and faded round the edges, kicking dirty nappies out of the way to feed the dog in the kitchen of their two bedroom basic box flat on the grim estate where everything has been broken if it can’t be stolen.
I’d be liar if I said I didn’t recognise the people Night Jack describes so powerfully but description is not analysis or understanding. And to eternalise and essentialise criminality by referring to it as ‘evil’ is to sink to the sort of lazy, tabloid terminology that does nothing to advance our understanding of an undeniable and massive problem. And if you don’t understand it, you’re never going tackle it effectively.
To be fair, Night Jack apologises for the sensationalism of the term ‘the evil poor’ but admits he ‘could think of no better way to put it’. Well a good place to start might have been to consider how society produces such miscreants, presuming we don’t believe that little lumpen-chavs spring fully formed from their shrieking, harpy-like mothers.
What would George Orwell make of it? He seemed to understand a thing or two about middle class prejudice when he remarked that ‘the real secret of class distinctions in the West’ can be summed up in ‘four frightful words’: ‘The lower classes smell’.