As vile because the sexism in The Mail on Sunday’s now infamous assault on Angela Rayner was, what has attracted a bit much less consideration is the no much less ugly classism that additionally infuses the piece.
The still-anonymous Tory MP who was quoted by the paper prompt that Rayner has to resort to such techniques as flashing her legs on the prime minister as a result of she lacks his “Oxford Union debate coaching”. This isn’t solely sneery – it’s plain unsuitable.
On the events when Rayner has stood in for Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs, going up in opposition to both Johnson or the nominal deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, she has been excellent. She could have missed out on the overrated union debating society expertise, however she has all of the brains and fervour she must ground the rogue prime minister in open fight. She isn’t afraid of him, although he all the time appears to be barely at odds as to the right way to take care of a girl who can’t be patronised.
In reality, his Oxford Union days have been of restricted use to him, as he isn’t normally that good at standing as much as Starmer. Of their final main confrontation on Partygate, Starmer put in his finest efficiency so far. All Johnson has to throw again is a curious line about Starmer being a “Corbynista in an costly go well with”, as if good tailoring have been these days offensive to the Tories (although Johnson would contrive to look rumpled in even the best Savile Row threads). The very fact is that Johnson was solely ever good when he was up in opposition to Corbyn, who mixed weak insurance policies and poor supply in a manner few might rival. Johnson most likely misses the outdated Trot.
Rayner’s media appearances additionally show an admirable tendency to not take any nonsense from journalists. She’s uncommon for somebody on the left in being prepared to go on the offensive, and for not apologising for not being a Tory. She’s reminiscent, in that respect, of Ken Livingstone and Tony Blair — individuals who would interact in argument. She additionally has a line in working-class, small “c” conservatism on crime, delinquent behaviour and terror. That is no Islington lefty. She’s combative and quick-witted, and it’s this that discombobulates Johnson.
Actually, Rayner went to a slightly higher ending college for aspiring politicians than even the Oxford Union – she was a Unison store steward. As a union rep she realized the right way to take care of entitled blokes, the right way to make and win an argument, and above all, the right way to suppose on her toes and throw within the occasional sharp barb – like when she teased Johnson about ambition being no dangerous factor, and the way she really fancied his job slightly than Starmer’s (there have been rumours about friction on the high of the get together). Rayner is best than most of both of the entrance benches in debate, and has thrived in her new function. After Starmer was recognized with Covid final 12 months, she took PMQs with about an hour’s discover – and stormed it.
There are many cliches to be wheeled out about Rayner’s private again story, and her experiences as a single mum and the remaining little question formed her concepts and persona. It’s not instantly apparent how a public college training and an Oxbridge diploma would have made her a greater politician. It simply appears to be the case that some folks in politics and the media are unwilling to simply accept that somebody like Rayner must be the place they’re. It was the identical snobbery that seemed down on Alan Johnson and John Prescott.
The type of informal classism inflicted on Rayner could also be kind of pernicious than sexism – or racism for that matter – but it surely additionally certainly disfigures public life. Possibly when Rayner referred to as Tories “scum” it was these critics she had in thoughts.