Royal wedding reveals the same old class prejudices

Britons find the idea people of moving beyond one's social class both desirable and at the same time

Whilst the candor and the maturity of those two young people describing their intention to spend the rest of their lives together was surprisingly moving, the British media's wall-to-wall fawning coverage of the royal engagement exposed the fact that the United Kingdom remains a deeply class-ridden and sexist society.

If news reports are to be believed, Kate Middleton has not only fulfilled every girl's dream of marrying a prince - albeit one with thinning hair and fading looks - but by bagging the 'ultimate prize' she has also set the bench-mark in social climbing. The press obsess about the fact that Middleton is marrying above her station. Her parents are "in trade" running a mail-order company and were once both airline stewards. Indeed, Kate is the first "commoner" to marry into British royalty in 350 years but instead of being cause for celebration, this fact has been met with sneering snobbery from all sides.

William and Kate's relationship is commonly described as a Cinderella story and like the original fairytale this modern romance is also rife with negative gender stereotyping and ugly class prejudice. Despite the veneer of Disneyfication, this royal fairytale and our reactions to it expose many of the worst aspects of British society. Unlike America where climbing the social ladder is celebrated, Britons find the idea people of moving beyond one's social class both desirable and at the same time repellant. Britons aspire to upward mobility but despise themselves and are despised for it.

Whilst I genuinely hope William and Kate share many long and happy years together I find it hard to buy into the fairytale. Although her prince may have come and Kate Middleton may relocate to a palace, she has not been handed the key to happiness. Her parents may bristle with pride at their daughter's 'advantageous marriage' but after the ball is over the new princess will have to get used to a lifetime of dull social events, official functions and media intrusion. Although it is unlikely that she will ever become a feminist icon or a class warrior, we can but hope that the arrival of Lady Kate may yet challenge rather than reinforce some of Britain's most deep-seated prejudices.

Stefan Simanowitz is a journalist, broadcaster and human rights campaigner, you can see more of his work here.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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