Category Archives: Bunting, Madeleine

Deep and deleterious snobbery of the metropolitan cognitive élites

Madeleine Bunting

Dalrymple remembers keenly an article in the London Guardian by Madeleine Bunting, one of the newspaper’s writers, because of what it revealed of modern upper-class British attitudes. Bunting stated that underclass girls in Britain got pregnant so young because the only alternative for them to early motherhood was shelf-stacking. Dalrymple comments:

This élite-educated columnist implied that stacking supermarket shelves was the summum malum of human existence, overlooking the fact that stacking shelves is a perfectly honourable and socially useful thing to do, is not unpleasant in itself, may not be the last job the person doing it will have, and is probably suitable for many people.

It is, he says,

the disdain that hurts, and that is what the modern upper class so successfully communicates to those below them on the social scale.

Dalrymple’s message to the likes of Bunting in all their hauteur is that they should

stop pretending that they are tormented by guilt at their own good fortune, which at the same time they do everything possible to preserve.

Hauteur and haughtiness at the Guardian

Leafing through a copy of the London newspaper the Guardian, Dalrymple comes across the following sentence written by a woman called Bunting:

When a girl at 17 decides to go ahead and have a baby, there is no tragedy of lost opportunity other than the local checkout till waiting for her low-paid labour.

Dalrymple comments:

This sentence breathes snobbery and disdain for those who actually do such work; it assumes, moreover, that once a supermarket checkout cashier, always a supermarket checkout cashier, a fate worse than death. That there might actually be people for whom such work is suitable, and potentially not odious, does not occur to the writer.

What makes the work odious, Dalrymple points out,

is not the work itself, but those who communicate their disdain of it.

Thus snobbery, of the kind expressed by the Guardian,

makes the import of labour necessary.

Madeleine Bunting