JANET STREET-PORTER: What Posh Spice can teach Dave about the class system

What Posh Spice can teach Dave about the class system



22:55 GMT, 29 April 2012

Upwardly mobile: Victoria Beckham has achieved riches from humble beginnings

Upwardly mobile: Victoria Beckham has achieved riches from humble beginnings

Calling any politician posh is the ultimate insult — Tory Nadine Dorries hit a nerve trashing Cameron and Osborne as ‘two posh boys who don’t know the price of milk’.

When Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt appeared in the Commons to announce his special adviser had resigned over dealings with Rupert Murdoch, Labour MP Dennis Skinner retorted ‘when posh boys are in trouble, they sack the servants’.

Outside politics, however, posh is still what we all secretly yearn for — Victoria Beckham’s tag might have been a bit sneery back in the Spice Girls’ formative years, but she’s had the last laugh, with a successful clothing business and wealthy husband.

Being posh, clutching a swanky bag
and always being immaculately groomed has turned her into a marketable
brand. Last week, Posh unveiled her latest project — a Range Rover (the
car of the posh town-and-country set) she had customised.

Whether Posh has any talent as a
designer doesn’t matter — like the Middletons, she’s upwardly mobile and
millions of consumers relate to that.

In government, the trick is to appear
ordinary. Tory MP Robert Halfon says the Tories need to ‘sound normal’
to appeal to working-class voters — banging on about the past and trade
unions doesn’t connect with people struggling in a recession.

He wants the Government to promote more MPs like Esther McVey, the former telly presenter who won Wirral West. In the real world, people want to talk about petrol prices, not Rupert Murdoch.

The problem is not confined to Tories, because Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are posh, no matter how much they ‘understand’ our pain. Voters know they live in swanky houses in nice bits of London, their wives are successful lawyers and they are not stressing about how to pay their mortgages.

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It’s the lack of worry that separates most MPs from the electorate. MPs are on decent salaries, great pensions, they get expenses and even pay-offs when they fail to get elected to help them adjust to life in the real world.

Tomorrow, a survey compiled by MPs from all parties will show the UK has even less social mobility than in the Forties, and lags well behind the rest of the developed world.

In Britain, who you know still gets seven out of ten people their next job. Surveys show that the rich get even richer, but the opportunities to succeed for those born into working-class families remain stagnant.

We can deride Cameron and his fellow public school toffs but the only way to smash our constipated class system is to make it far easier for people from every background to become members of the professional classes.

Being posh isn’t a crime but denying equal opportunity is, and I can’t understand why Mr Cameron isn’t prioritising literacy over everything else, and then teaching highly technical skills to children from 13 onwards.

Posh Spice proves you can make millions without a degree or mates from Eton, and good luck to her.

Petra's an heir head

Privileged: Petra Ecclestone

Privileged: Petra Ecclestone

Weepy Nick Clegg was last week filmed for BBC News touring a supermarket where concerned staff told him one in five female shoppers are so strapped for cash they are cutting out meals.

Contrast the vacuous world of Petra Ecclestone, Bernie’s 23-year-old pampered daughter, who rattles around in a 57,000 sq ft mansion in Los Angeles with her hubby James, and described a day in her life for a colour magazine.

Petra has her breakfast prepared each morning by her resident chef — but don’t worry, she doesn’t bother with a uniform, just black trousers and a white shirt. She ‘doesn’t live in a bubble’ — although her 25 Hermes Birkin bags live in a special cupboard.

Life is pretty simple in Petra’s palace now she’s got rid of the ‘gift-wrapping room’.

She manages with just a beauty salon, bowling alley and the cinema.

She clears out her clothes every few weeks, sending them to Croatia and says wearing obvious labels ‘looks a bit Russian’.

Nothing wrong with enjoying your hard-earned cash, but what exactly has this airhead done to deserve the millions she inherited

Flaunting wealth like this is obscene and she seems so thick-skinned. (Or stupid).

On a roll I doubt it

Since I blasted wind farms on the One Show last week I’ve been deluged with hate mail from greens.

I agree we need to use energy more efficiently, but wind turbines will be redundant within ten years and then what will happen to the huge amount of concrete that’s been pumped underneath pristine green fields to support these monstrosities

Who is going to dig it up and replace the badgers’ sets and wildlife habitats that have been wrecked

As for saving the planet, every supermarket competes to persuade us they are doing their bit. The latest nugget of greenwash comes from Sainsbury’s, which claims it is the first retailers to shrink the inner tube of a toilet roll.

Break out the sparkling wine, unfurl the bunting and celebrate — the diameter of their own-brand toilet roll inner tube will shrink from 123mm to 112mm, but the length of paper will remain the same, and so will the price — 1.99 for four rolls.

The white paper is still bleached — I’m not sure how that squares with protecting the planet — but the retailer claims smaller rolls will result in 500 less lorry trips from warehouses to stores a year. I’m sure that makes us all feel a lot happier.

Walk on, Clarkson

Lost legal battle: Jeremy Clarkson

Lost legal battle: Jeremy Clarkson

Never mind tiny toilet rolls, here’s a
real reason to throw a party — the curse of JSP has worked again.

Clarkson, who hates peace-loving walkers who cause him no harm
and make no noise, has lost a legal battle to close a public footpath
near the lighthouse he owns on the Isle of Man.

The highest court on
the island has ruled that everyone has a right to a private life, but
the ‘rights and freedoms’ of the public are paramount and the footpath
must remain open.

Clarkson had claimed it breached his human rights —
we might say the same about excessive engine noise.

Rambling costs
nothing, uses no fuel and makes no mark on the landscape, unlike
everything Clarkson stands for.

Last week, I gave a sell-out talk in Margate about the joys of walking — stick that in your petrol tank, Clarkson.

Car crash gardening

The gardening fraternity are biting their nails as this cool, wet weather means the floral extravaganzas planned for Chelsea Flower Show are well behind schedule.

Not that stunted plants would bother celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin — he’s come up with an 80ft pyramid, with a wrecked Fiat 500 perched on the top.

Diarmuid’s seven-storey monstrosity is being constructed from scaffolding, with each level featuring a different style of gardening, and a lift complete with bellboy.

On one floor, there’ll be a greenhouse, on another an American Silver Bullet mobile home and the fifth floor will feature an open- air bathroom.

Like all Diarmuid’s work, the pyramid is another manifestation of his giant ego. The poor old plants take second place, the story behind so many of the celebrity garden designs at Chelsea, where you can’t see the greenery for the whacky sculptures and water features.

Last year, Diarmuid filmed my garden in Yorkshire for This Morning — he’s a likeable chap, but we soon came to blows over his suggested ‘improvements’. When he proposed a large shrub or yew tree as a feature in my flower bed, I retorted: ‘I’ve just taken one out and it’s not going back.’

I like my garden a bit of a mess, without any wrecked cars as talking points, thanks.