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A dangerous mood is being created; in association with RBS.


NO CLASSES are regarded with quite the same contempt as the middle classes. They are tarred with many sins and, in the face of all this insult, still remain docile.

In truth, it is the middle classes, particularly the lower middle classes, who make revolutions, whether they be the sans-culottes of Revolutionary France, or the ruined small businessmen of Weimar Germany.

This is probably because it is often they who have the most to lose when things go bad, and they grow especially angry if they feel they alone are shouldering the burden. So I'm sure the great British middle classes are less than happy to learn that Northern Rock's former chief executive Adam Applegarth is to receive a severance package of pounds 760,000. This is in addition to his pension fund worth some pounds 2.62m, personal legal advice, which was paid for by Northern Rock, and pounds 10,000-worth of enhanced security arrangements at his pounds 2.5m home, on which he has a subsidised Northern Rock mortgage.

Not that it is fair to single him out. All our ruling classes, in industry or politics, are increasingly perceived to inhabit a charmed world, where a comfortable existence is guaranteed and failure carries no penalty.

Any politician, however great a failure, is still rewarded by cronies with a knighthood, a peerage, a remunerative position in Europe, or with a nice little earner on some quango. They seem to stand to lose little other than their honour.

The same is true for those at the very bottom, at least those who attract the attention. The middle classes focus their rising anger on those they regard as the idle, the feckless, the chavs or just the plain criminals.

Those who exist on permanent subsidy and for whom even frequent law-breaking attracts little in the way of penalty and certainly entails no loss of job, standing or self-respect.

This is not the reality, but people will increasingly see it as such and that will create a mood that is dangerous for business and, ultimately, dangerous for the country.

Peter Jackson is a man with an opinion
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 3, 2008
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