Sunday 9 February 2014

When Edwina Currie took on Jack Monroe

Former Tory MP Edwina Currie's main claim to fame was that she used to put a shine on John Major's knob when he was Prime Minister. Jack Monroe is a food writer who went through a period of incredible financial hardship and began to blog about her recipes that allowed her to feed herself and her son on about a tenner a week. A little over a week ago they came to blows on television, with Mother Currie accusing little Miss Monroe of being a middle class type on the make. La Monroe's howls of anguish were an entertainment in themselves, and all in all I scored that bout as a technical knockout for Edwina Currie.

It is not that Jack was never poor because she obviously was for a few months. Nor is it that she did not have to sell just about everything that she owned to get by and still found herself with only a few pounds left over to feed her young son when some of her benefits were not paid properly. No, the point is that Jack Monroe was a nice middle class gel from a nice family who found herself on her uppers for a short period of time. Had she taken that as her starting point then the right would not be able to attack her, but she doesn't. What she does is try to present herself as being more proletarian than thou, and that will not work for the granddaughter of a hotel owner, who is also the daughter of a senior fire brigade officer and a nurse. Certainly not when faced with a political bruiser like Edwina Currie...

Jack Monroe has become the voice of poverty porn for the Guardian reading middle class, none of whom would have given her a second glance had she not been a young, attractive, girl who writes the recipes that they want to make in their kitchens. Poor people have been producing dishes like stovies, since time immemorial, but the gobby harridans who churn out such delicacies do not fit into the Guardian's view of what a poor person should be. Jack Monroe does which is why she was able to work her ticket  out of poverty and back into the warm embrace of the middle class that spawned her.

I am sure that she will continue to work her ticket, probably all the way into the House of Commons. It's amazing what a few weeks of hardship can do for a person, especially if they have the cultural knowledge that allows them to market that poverty in a way that is acceptable to the consumers of poverty porn over at the Guardian and the BBC.

Which is pretty much the point that Edwina Currie was making, if you think about it.

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