I wasn't going to bother commenting on this article. Having read some of the comments on the Telegraph site and elsewhere, however, I feel the need to bear witness. Simon Heffer has told no more than the simple truth.
I grew up in the Labour North. I went to a comprehensive school, then recently converted from a Secondary Modern by means of changing the sign at the gate. It was staffed by the same teachers. Its educational record remains, thirty-two years on, appalling. I suspect it is now less successful than when it was a Secondary Modern. My school friends, like me, were from working-class families. Most remained working class themselves.
I did unskilled jobs for more than two years in total, during school and University vacations. I worked in a nationalised steel works one memorable Summer. It was losing four million 1970's pounds a week and any fool could see where it was going. My 8 hours a day job took 30 minutes for me to do. My colleagues passed the time flicking a golf ball into a Castella tin all day. They could perform amazing tricks with that ball. Bored out of my skull, I used the other 7.5 hours a day to research and write an essay which won me the only academic prize of my career. It was hardly fair on the other 2000 entrants, none of whom would have spent so much time. Thank you, British Steel. That entry on my CV got me some of my early breaks.
Unlike - I suspect - most angry commentators on Simon Heffer's article, I therefore know the working class. Its members have no greater tendency to idleness, violence or vice than their countrymen. I experienced the greatest kindnesses of my life from them. I have loved, and still love, several of them. The best and kindest person I ever knew spent her whole life as a presser in a textile works. She lived in a council house and played bingo for fun. She was my Nan and, though she died many years ago, I think of her - and miss her - every day.
When well treated and well managed (e.g. by Japanese motor manufacturers or electronics companies) our working people are capable of producing goods of the highest quality. As I saw at British Steel, they are also capable of descending into zombiedom. There, but for the Grace of God, go I. Had I spent my life in such a non-job, I might now have be able to put a golf ball into a cigar tin after making it execute a triple loop. Worse, I might have become an intelligent - and therefore more dangerous - version of John Prescott. Perhaps it is that knowledge that makes me hate him.
I moved away when I graduated, but I often return. My only house in Britain now is near where I grew up. Even after applying a discount for the effects of middle-aged curmudgeonry, I can see that the place has degenerated. Sons and daughters of honest working folk live on the dole, or on the sick. "Depression" and "back trouble" are rife. People who once would have been workers are experts in the complexities of the benefits system. The underclass exists. It annoys and dispirits most of all the people who must live near it. The ones who work for a living little or no better than their idle neighbours. The ones who - while Labour bribes those neighbours into continuing dependency - see their wages held down because Labour imports voting fodder from the Third World.
No wonder we have gangs roaming our streets. Consider the example set by the Labour Party - the sole political force in those parts and itself - essentially - a criminal gang. It extorts money using the might of the State and deploys it for political gain - to keep the gang members in their lucrative posts. Meanwhile more and more fall into dependence on a benefits system which has "Labour" stamped all through it like a stick of seaside rock.
For all the reasons Heffer states, the Labour Party is the greatest enemy our working class has known since Lord Kitchener sent them in their millions to die in the last feudal war. I hate it with a passion. Simon Heffer has articulated why.