Hetty Douglas isn’t the only vile snob
Hetty Douglas, a Nottinghamshire-born self-titled ‘Peckham artist’, has got herself into trouble. On Snapchat she posted a picture of men in work clothes waiting in line at McDonald’s. Her caption? ‘These guys look like they got 1 GCSE.’
Some clever troublemaker screenshotted the picture and put it on social media for everyone to criticise – and rightly so. Douglas seems to be a pretty vile snob. But she is also part of a new trend in young Brit art, playing the poor mouth, however ironically, in order to get ‘street cred’. Her latest exhibition, displayed on her website (the only thing left of her online – she has now deleted all her social-media accounts), showcases graffiti-style scrawls with daubs of paint and words like ‘baby’, ‘hard’ and ‘good girl’. One of her shows featured paintings captioned ‘pleassse can we fuck?’ and ‘you’re peng but your english is shit!’.
It is satisfying to see snobbery called out, and many virtual leftists have leapt on the Hetty fury to flaunt their supposedly pro-worker credentials. But rather than simply saying that Douglas’s comments were ugly and also wrong (the men have since been identified and some of them do have GCSEs), these critics have slammed her for ‘appropriating’ working-class culture. Dawn Foster, who’s so keen to show off her alleged working-class credentials that she may as well get them printed on a t-shirt, says Douglas has no right to ‘fetishise working-class culture’. Hang on a minute, since when was getting no GCSEs and making slang-ridden art ‘working-class culture’?
Yes, it is safe to say that Douglas is an unpleasant and ignorant person. However, she is not alone in holding anti-working-class views. Even some of those ‘calling her out’ often exhibit contempt for poorer people. Corbynistas are slamming Douglas, yet their heroine, Labour MP Emily Thornberry, had a Hetty Douglas moment a couple of years ago when she tweeted that infamous sneer at white van men. More recently, Thornberry said poor people should be taught to grow carrots (because we’re too thick to know that carrots are healthier than chocolate). And what about Shami Chakrabarti, who pleaded with Jewish Labour members, ‘Don’t leave me locked in a room with Essex man’? According to Chakrabarti, ‘Essex man’ lacks ‘the vision and views that you and I bring to this party’. Charming. And of course much of the supposedly left-wing media have spent the past year criticising ‘low-information’ voters, by which they mean less well-off people who voted for Brexit. We all know ‘low-information’ is code for thick and poor.
Whether it’s droning on about poor people malnourishing their kids or claiming that all building-site men are sexual harassers, many people express class hatred in the UK today. Not just stuck-up posh girls, but also the political class, and the new left. So, sure, mock Douglas, but make sure your stones don’t bounce back and hit your glass house.
Ella Whelan is assistant editor at spiked. Her new book, What Women Want: Fun, Freedom and an End to Feminism, will be published in September by Connor Court. Follow her on Twitter: @Ella_M_Whelan