John Redwood MP’s unintentionally hilarious gaffe on poverty

On Friday this news snippet came out, talking about the rise in high-stakes gambling machines in poor communities. Buried halfway down the article is a quote from John Redwood MP, being perhaps a little too honest in terms of how he views the plebs.

John Redwood, the Conservative MP for Wokingham in Berkshire, which has three betting shops, said he had been surprised by the spread of bookmakers in poorer areas.

“I put it down to the fact that poor people believe there’s one shot to get rich. They put getting rich down to luck and think they can take a gamble,” he said.

“They also have time on their hands. My voters are too busy working hard to make a reasonable income.”

Seriously, he said that? Perhaps I’m immature, but I developed a mental image of him saying it while donning a top hat and monocle, perhaps while also sipping a cup of tea with his pinkie extended, and chortling loudly.

The Honourable Member for Wokingham, yesterday

Also, gotta love his distinction between “poor people” and  “my voters”.

For those of us with long enough memories, Mr Redwood was previously a member of John Major’s government. His tenure as Secretary of State for Wales was distinguished by his famous performance of the Welsh National Anthem.

These days, he’s co-chairman of the Conservative Party’s Policy Review Group on Economic Competitiveness. God help us all.

5 thoughts on “John Redwood MP’s unintentionally hilarious gaffe on poverty

  1. John Redwood’s nickname ‘The Vulcan’ is well deserved. Like the original Mr Spock, Redwood is devoid of emotion, empathy or even just the smallest hint of feelings for others less fortunate than himself.

    There are many poor people in Wokingham and surrounding areas too, and many of those poor people are in employment but not earning enough to live the lifestyle of a Redwood. No matter how hard they work, they’re still poor by comparison with Redwood. Still, they’re paying their taxes and supporting Mr Redwood and his need for a second home in London, a spit away from Wokingham. Wonder how many of his constituents (NB. not the same thing as ‘his’ voters) living in Wokingham and working in London would give their eye teeth for a little pad in London, so as to ease their commuting.

    Shame on you, John Redwood, for displaying that you’re out of touch with Planet Earth, but obviously still in touch with ‘the other place’, Planet Vulcan.

  2. Many MP’s think like Redwood, even Labour ones. Their attitude now too is that those who cannot work through illness or disability must be made to do so, not that they should stop the gravy train they themselves ride on.

    They are not feckless or ‘get quick rich types’ no… who says they are not, the greedy ones themselves who work oh so hard for their constituents….? What a nightmare of a joke for the poor, consigned to resignation or desperation.

  3. It must have been a slow news day to pick up on this. But Edna Fletcher is right to point out that Labour is just as dismissive of the poor. The church, the Trade Unions and the majority of the Labour Party opposed the introduction of the National Lottery – why, because the poor were seemingly too unintelligent to gamble responsibly. They were all going to gamble their child benefit on the Lot, leaving their children to starve. Similarly when gambling regulations were relaxed in relation to casinos and on line gambling, once again the groovy left of centre, happening Labour voting professionals, would know how to handle this – but the poor benighted underclass, well they simply were not up to it. Redwood may well be perfectly reasonable in distinguishing the ‘poor’ from his voters, as the poor tend not to vote at all. The electorate consists of two groups, those that earn their living in the public sector, who vote Labour, overwhelmingly from self-interest, and those who work in the private sector who also vote in their self interest, usually Conservative. The difference in income between the two sets of voters is marginal, but neither set is remotely poor. The underclass has a choice of the Labour Party who ‘pity’ them, while not recognising their skills and crafts as legitimate, and the Conservative Party which occassionally denigrate them, but by and large ignore them. As a social worker I worked overwhelmingly with the underclass – and always recognised, (unlike many of my Labour Party colleagues), that they had skills, made life choices, in their pool many of them were very astute indeed. They certainly did not like to be seen as victims, waiting to be saved by the left.

    • I assure you that my annoyance at Redwood’s caricaturing of “poor people” has little to do with any sense of bourgeious patricianship. While it’s fair to say I live a comfortable lifestyle now, I spent all of my twenties and the first year or two of my 30s first as a call centre worker for a telecoms company, then an unqualified support worker for a social care agency, then as a mature student nurse. Living in bedsits and shared houses, no car (couldn’t afford driving lessons, let alone the various expenses of keeping a set of wheels on the road), doing voluntary work at UK music festivals as it was the closest I could afford to anything approximating a holiday, running up debts due to times when the only way I could buy food was to stick it on a credit card (one thing I learned from my threadbare years – it can be damned expensive being skint!)

      Mr Redwood may see “the poor” as some abstract other, but for much of my life I’ve been “the poor”. And throughout that time I voted.

      It is true, however, that those who may be on low incomes, or unemployed, disabled, mentally ill etc are statistically less likely to vote. While this may make them unpersons as far as the Tories and Labour are concerned, that doesn’t mean we have to agree with that view.

  4. Aren’t they always telling us that we don’t have real ‘poverty’ in this country, just ‘relative poverty?’

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