How Jeremy Corbyn grew up to hate the middle classes – even though he was the son of a skilled engineer and a grammar school maths teacher who lived in a 17th century farmhouse in Shropshire
- TOM BOWER spent 18 months speaking with people who know Jeremy Corbyn
- He is the author of Dangerous Hero: Corbyn’s Ruthless Plot For Power
- In this passage he reveals Corbyn’s privileged upbringing in Shropshire
One of Corbyn’s defining characteristics is his hatred of the middle class – even though, as the son of a skilled engineer and a grammar school maths teacher, who grew up in a five-bedroom 17th Century farmhouse in Shropshire called Yew Tree Manor, he couldn’t be more middle class himself.
Corbyn disapproves of ambition and success – equating both with greed. To create the Marxist ideal, he dreams of using taxation and confiscation of middle-class wealth to irreversibly transform Britain.
His goal isn’t equality of opportunity to prosper – it’s equality of poverty.
Until recently, Corbyn did not conceal his contempt for his middle-class quarry but, in his hunger to win power, he and John McDonnell have starkly moderated their language.
Affluent start: Yew Tree Manor, the sprawling five-bedroom home in Shropshire where Corbyn grew up
Yet his true feelings are stamped throughout his career. As a Haringey councillor in 1974, faced with a huge housing problem after the arrival of thousands of Cypriot refugees in London, Corbyn proposed building homes on green parkland.
Local residents were outraged, which delighted him. The rich, he scoffed, clearly disliked living alongside immigrants – but they would have no choice.
Four years later Haringey Council workers went on strike after their eye-watering demands for a 40 per cent pay increase were rejected.
Corbyn, even though as a councillor he was their employer, joined them on the picket line outside the council’s premises.
Corbyn disapproves of ambition and success – equating both with greed
Rapidly, Haringey’s streets filled with bags of uncollected rubbish, children couldn’t enter schools (the caretakers prevented them), and repairs to council homes were abandoned.
‘Volvos are sliding on the ice on Muswell Hill,’ Corbyn gaily told Toby Harris, a fellow councillor.
The sight of suffering middle-classes, Harris noticed, evidently pleased Corbyn. Later as leader of Haringey Council’s Left-wing caucus, he encouraged plans to build council blocks among private houses, and when people protested he dismissed them, scoffing: ‘The arrogance of all those doctors and lawyers, talking about the environment when what they’re scared of is black kids.’
On another occasion, to spite Muswell Hill’s middle class, he allowed gypsy families to set up an encampment on local playing fields.