Alex Massie Alex Massie

Who cares if Angela Rayner is a champagne socialist?

Let her drink bubbly!

Angela Rayner (photo: Getty)

What is it about Angela Rayner that so thoroughly irks so many Conservative MPs and their friends in the press? The Daily Telegraph could scarcely contain itself last week when it reported – exclusively! – that Labour’s deputy leader had attended a Glyndebourne performance of The Marriage of Figaro even as – get this! – other things were happening elsewhere. Not only had she attended the opera, she was seen attending it. Worse still, she was spotted drinking champagne. The nerve and the state of her!

Dominic Raab, whose parliamentary performances make Iain Duncan Smith’s seem alert, agile and vibrant, was at it again today. ‘Where was the right honourable lady when the comrades were on the picket line last Thursday?’ he demanded. ‘Where was she when the Labour front bench were joining them rather than standing-up for the public?’ Nowhere good, obviously. No, ‘She was at the Glyndebourne music festival sipping champagne, listening to opera.’ How very dare she.

Not that Raab was finished. No, the deputy prime minister had thought long and deep and awfully hard about his pay-off and he delivered it with what, for him, amounted to a flourish: ‘Champagne socialism is back in the Labour party.’ Take that, madam.

Parliament is manifestly improved by Angela Rayner’s presence

And what if it is? If we must have socialism, let it be accompanied by fine things. Why should champagne be reserved to those with the right credentials? Why, for that matter, is there something self-evidently ludicrous about a working-class person enjoying opera? Should she know her place and appreciate that somewhere such as Glyndebourne may never be her kind of place? If so, why?

It is not as though Raab, the son of a Czech immigrant who worked for Marks & Spencer, is a bona fide member of the gilded classes himself.

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