Gary Neville is right – Champagne socialism is a policy to be proud of
Do you believe in social justice? Do you want society to be fairer? And do you also have a taste for the nicer things in life, good wines for example? If you answered yes to all of these questions, I have news for you. You are a full Champagne socialist.
And what’s wrong with that? Nothing, according to Gary Neville, the former footballer turned television expert, who proudly proclaims his status, dismissing the idea that it is a derogatory term.
“People quite often call me a champagne socialist,” he said in an interview over the weekend. “And I say, ‘Yes, you’re right. I am.’ I believe everyone loves nice things, a nice car, a nice house, a vacation, and access to good transportation, health care and education. The socialist part is that not only should I have access to it, I think everyone should. “
How refreshing to hear someone refute the catch-all charge of hypocrisy which lazily rests on the assumption that anyone with money and / or status must automatically be a conservative.
There is no contradiction in seeking material comfort while believing that society should be more equitable. “You can come from socialist roots, from deep roots, and then get on well with life and enjoy champagne,” Neville said.
Champagne socialism is not really a political doctrine, but Neville’s recent contributions to national discourse – he also gave a lucid and powerful interview to Breakfast TV in which he lamented the level of political leadership in this country – were enough to upset the forces of conservatism.
The spectator accused Neville of “metropolitan snobbery”, of being “irritating” and “naive” and of being misleading about his own political ambitions. The theme underlying most of Neville’s criticisms is: he’s a footballer – what right has he got to lecture us? What does he know about politics? The answer must be: a darn more spectacle than politicians know about football.
Footballers’ new social conscience and the confidence to voice their opinions – Marcus Rashford on free school meals, Raheem Sterling on racial equality, England players kneeling – have been a challenge for the political establishment, which misjudged public support. for these extremely popular young men.
Neville’s treatise on leadership in the context of Gareth Southgate’s achievements with the England squad was a direct challenge to our political masters. “The level of leadership over the past two years in this country has been mediocre,” he said, as a defeated England side left the field after the Euro final, over six million people were listening to him. “But look at this man there… he’s everything a leader should be: respectful, humble, truth telling, genuine. He’s fantastic, Gareth Southgate. The comparison with the country’s leader has not been said.
“I would love a half hour in front of Boris Johnson at the dispatch box,” he said over the weekend, and many of us would love to see that particular provocation come true. Neville has conviction, courage, and a cohesive argument that comes from a genuine place. And the worst that can be said of him is that he is a champagne socialist!