Katie Hopkins: the wrong sort of snob
If Hopkins had attacked the food working-class parents give their kids, rather than the names, liberals would be cheering her on.
Former UK Apprentice contestant and rent-a-gobshite, Katie Hopkins, has infuriated all and sundry by saying she wouldn’t let her kids play with children called Tyler or Charmaine. Speaking on ITV’s This Morning programme last week, she reckoned that pre-judging children on their names is a reliable indicator as to whether they’d be a good or bad influence on her precious little darlings. Predictably enough, the Twitterati and mock-outraged journalists have attacked Hopkins for being an incorrigible and rather vile snob. Even This Morning presenter, Holly Willoughby, a TV interviewer with all the grilling skills of a spent match, felt inclined to shout: ‘Stop it. Just stop right there.’
Hopkins’ views maybe reprehensible, but there isn’t anything new about mocking the names working-class parents give their kids. Twenty years ago it was Sharon and Tracey or Darren and Kevin which were code for the offspring of Essex Man and Essex Woman. Today it is names with a bling ring to them, such as Chardonnay and Crystal, which get well-to-do types sniggering into their Darjeeling. No matter what name working-class parents give their kids, it will eventually become an object of scorn. Ridiculing popular-sounding names has always been code for ridiculing the lowly position of the great unwashed. Hopkins’ mistake was to be too explicit in her disdain for the proles, too quick and also too gauche in spelling out her class snobbery. In short, Hopkins simply wasn’t PC enough when letting rip on the masses.
Liberal broadsheets, of course, were quick to mock Hopkins and give the impression they’re above such intolerant class snobbery. As with the high-minded mauling of Tory MP Andrew Mitchell last year, when Mitchell was wrongly accused of calling two policeman ‘plebs’, liberal journalists love to imagine themselves as men of the people. They imagine that, as Labour voters who love the welfare state and the NHS, they sometimes have a duty to speak up for ‘the poor’ against privileged boors. In truth, though, they’re as bad and often downright worse than a cartoon Horse and Hounds figure like Katie Hopkins. The difference is that liberal writers use acceptable-sounding political codes through which to highlight the chasm between the Chavs and Chav-nots.
Whereas Hopkins mocked working-class parents on the basis of what they call their children, liberals prefer to bemoan what working-class parents feed their children, whether they smoke in front of their children and whether they pass on dodgy opinions to their children. Hopkins’ air-headed teasing about working-class kids’ names is positively innocent compared to the far more serious accusations liberals level at prole parents. Indeed, the liberal elites have a whole galaxy of coded buzzwords through which they lay into ‘those people’: obese, tabloid readers, binge drinkers, smokers and chaotic families. Whereas thousands are up in arms about Hopkins’ saloon-bar prejudices, hardly anyone condemns the political class’ view that some parents shouldn’t be in a position to have children, let alone provide them with exotic Christian names.
Ironically enough, there is another reason why Hopkins’ comments have been quickly seized upon and denounced: she appears not to be from an ‘acceptable’ background herself. Privately educated with a brief stint at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, Hopkins’ cut-glass accent and conservative fashion sense are, for many a liberal, signifiers of everything that is laughable and wrong about the suburban middle classes. She is the female equivalent of Alan Partridge, spouting ill-informed jibberish and constantly tripping herself up. For Boho journalists in Stoke Newington, if someone is either posh or prole, it’s a reliable indicator they’ll be a bad influence on the squeezed liberal middle. An aspiring suburbanite like Katie Hopkins, it seems, is as ‘beyond the pale’ as the mothers and fathers of Tyler and Chardonnay.
Neil Davenport is a writer and sociology/politics teacher in London. He blogs at The Midnight Bell.
Picture by: Matt Crossick/Empics Entertainment.