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Of course class still matters – it influences everything we do

In today’s Observer, veteran commentator Will Hutton discusses class in Britain. But as usual, he fails to mention the underlying reason for the entrenched class divide. Nobody really wants to talk about it. The rift goes back a long way, centuries, to the Norman Conquest and perhaps before that. There are those who own land and can live off rent, at no effort. There are the rest, who must pay rent and work for wages. Most business people are rent payers, which implies that the political divisions in the country do not reflect economic realities.

Sadly, Britain never enjoyed the process whereby the landed aristocracy were stripped of their estates – as happened, notably, in Sweden in what were known as the Reductions, during the 1680s under King Karl XI. So the landed interest further entrenched its power in England with the Enclosures and in Scotland with the Clearances. That in turn provided cheap factory fodder for the industrial revolution and established the class system in its contemporary form.

Things loosened somewhat after 1945 but the old structure has been reasserting itself since the 1980s. Nobody really wants to challenge it as the remedy is unpalatable to those in charge.

Of course class still matters – it influences everything that we do