Nye Bevan and the Tory Sneer about ‘Champagne Socialists’

Remember in the 1980s when Thatcher went around sneering at middle class socialists and Labour supporters as ‘champagne socialists?’ It became one of the favourite put-downs of the Tory press, along with the cry of ‘Loony left’. It wasn’t an original sneer by any means. Back in the 1940s, similar things were said of Nye Bevan. Eric Hopkins, in his book, The Rise and Decline of the English Working Classes 1918-1990: A Social History (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1991) notes that after he got into parliament, Bevan acquired ‘sophisticated tastes and wealthy friends, including Lord Beaverbrook. This annoyed one of Beaverbrook’s other friends, Brendan Bracken, who is supposed to have called Bevan to his face ‘a Bollinger Bolshevik’, ‘ritzy Robespierre’ and ‘lounge lizard Lenin’. (p. 96).

Well, that’s what they called the former Tredegar miner, who set up the National Health Service. The short answer to the sneer should have been ‘that’s what they called the best of us. It didn’t wash on him, and it doesn’t wash on us. Sticks and stones etc.’

It was a pathetic insult, but unfortunately it did convince some people that Maggie was somehow more ‘working class’ than the Socialists who genuinely were interested in working people’s welfare.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Nye Bevan and the Tory Sneer about ‘Champagne Socialists’”

  1. Florence Says:

    Variants of this have also worked well for the SNP vs Labour too.

    • beastrabban Says:

      I can believe it, Florence. The SNP have positioned themselves to the left of Labour, despite the fact that Mike’s shown they’re also cutting services to the poor which Labour have opposed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: