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Bit of surly class warfare from Andrew Leigh on Radio National

By I-filed - 2 July 2012 29

Andrew Leigh has been securing himself a disproportionate presence on the ABC Radio airwaves lately. He secured a spot on the Science Show recently, then Breakfast on Saturday. Interestingly, on Saturday he exhibited quite a nasty bit of class warfare for a chap who represents the middle-class burghers of Canberra.

Speaking about higher education degrees, he was scathing about how parents whose children attend sandstone universities “clap politely while little Johnny and Susan get their degrees”, contrasting these apparently uptight and unpleasant stuck-up types with the whooping, joyous working-class families celebrating at the “besser-brick westie” universities.

Andrew – why the pointless classist diatribe? What do you have against families where more than one member happens to have earned a degree? Moreover, Andrew Leigh, if you’re going to tar the middle-class with such scorn, shouldn’t you be representing a working-class electorate rather than Canberra with the highest proportion of higher degrees in the country? Biting the hand that feeds you!

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29 Responses to
Bit of surly class warfare from Andrew Leigh on Radio National
poetix 10:33 pm 02 Jul 12

‘Johnny and Susan’ are not names that scream wealthy to me, speaking from a working class point of view.

A_Cog 9:15 pm 02 Jul 12

OMG I-filed. YES that is a troll post. You took the “Johnny and Susan” quote out of context and plugged it into your overall “class war” narrative which is designed to make Andrew Leigh look like a tool. I listened to the broadcast, and you’re out of line. I think Andrew Leigh is ok, for a Harvard-educated economist who can actually understand how policy and economics should interact.
Also, you suggested that I “arm [myself] with something of substance” . I did, so try this:
I just scanned through your 65 posts. 19 are explicitly anti-Labor. That’s 30%. Then there are your anti-ABC rants. That was all I needed to see. I didn’t need to read any more of your forced, apoplectic prose.
I-filed, you’ve just been defiled.
Put down the I-pad and watch Rush Hour, which just started on channel 88.

I-filed 8:47 pm 02 Jul 12

A_Cog said :

Yep, I reckon this is a trolling post too. Take something out of context, then put words into Andrew Leigh’s mouth. Typical righty tactic. Steer away from context and facts.

It’s a verbatim quote. You haven’t listened to the interview, clearly. If you want to call a post trolling, arm yourself with something with substance to counter it with. What “context and facts” are you referring to that differ from the OP? Leigh was claiming high moral ground for “one-degree families” by scorning and deriding “two and more degree families”. In other words, he was creating a phony “us & them” as some kind of weird classist point-scoring. He could have praised “first degree” families to the skies without using the opportunity to slur sandstone university graduates, in exactly the same tone that Wayne Swan et al use to slur (surprisingly often working-class) families who pay for private schooling. Cheap, unbecoming and misfired class-war tactic.

dungfungus 8:45 pm 02 Jul 12

A_Cog said :

Yep, I reckon this is a trolling post too. Take something out of context, then put words into Andrew Leigh’s mouth. Typical righty tactic. Steer away from context and facts.

Another comment from an Andrew Leigh apologist. Are trying to say he didn’t say what is quoted?
I notice Leigh hasn’t commented or defended himself so what does that tell you?

Russ 8:37 pm 02 Jul 12

I-filed said :

There is no other interpretation for the scathing and scornful tone of the “little johnny and susan” comment other than classism. What Leigh doesn’t appear to figure, is that those working-class folk who got degrees thanks to Gough Whitlam now have grown-up kids, who are now being awarded degrees. There is nothing privileged these days about multiple degrees in a family. Leigh should be saying, “good on them” – not ridiculing them.

What utter drivel – I just had a chance to listen to the piece (it’s only about 10 minutes long and worth a listen) and to take one comment (and not refer to the interview in the original post) then explode it out of context, applying some reaching interpretation to what was said (and apparently “how” it was said) is pathetic.

The whole interview was about social mobility, which Leigh appears to have spent a large part of his career studying (I’ll avoid comparisons to Nicola Murray in The Thick of It). As explained by another poster, regardless of the Whitlam reforms, there still exists a big chunk of the population for whom in their generations haven’t had one of their own achieve a degree, and it is a *huge* deal for them when one does, and it is an important indicator and reminder of social mobility.

And as for it being “classist” to make this observation – what in the hell do you think social mobility is all about?

A_Cog 6:43 pm 02 Jul 12

Yep, I reckon this is a trolling post too. Take something out of context, then put words into Andrew Leigh’s mouth. Typical righty tactic. Steer away from context and facts.

I-filed 6:33 pm 02 Jul 12

pajs said :

Another trolling post. Either you aren’t bright enough to have understood the material, or you are deliberately misrepresenting it (see davo101’s post).

To spell it out, the point he was making wasn’t ‘classist’. It was that for families without histories of having members get into and through tertiary education, the breakthrough of having a child get a degree, or a higher degree, is a big deal. For families with established histories of tertiary education there is less of a ‘breakthrough’ kind of big deal to these achievements.

There is no other interpretation for the scathing and scornful tone of the “little johnny and susan” comment other than classism. What Leigh doesn’t appear to figure, is that those working-class folk who got degrees thanks to Gough Whitlam now have grown-up kids, who are now being awarded degrees. There is nothing privileged these days about multiple degrees in a family. Leigh should be saying, “good on them” – not ridiculing them.

dungfungus 1:54 pm 02 Jul 12

pajs said :

Another trolling post. Either you aren’t bright enough to have understood the material, or you are deliberately misrepresenting it (see davo101’s post).

To spell it out, the point he was making wasn’t ‘classist’. It was that for families without histories of having members get into and through tertiary education, the breakthrough of having a child get a degree, or a higher degree, is a big deal. For families with established histories of tertiary education there is less of a ‘breakthrough’ kind of big deal to these achievements.

Oh I see, a bit like our prime minister being able to get a tertiary education in Adelaide but her parents not having that opportunity in Wales? What a “breakthrough” that was then. Surely you must have heard her “rabbit” on about it every second week?

davo101 12:14 pm 02 Jul 12

dungfungus said :

The “sandstone” universities usually require a higher UAI (or whatever it is called these days) so they don’t discriminate the “westies” as Leigh suggests.
I wonder what Leigh’s UAI was?
Sounds like the politics of intelligence envy to me.

Clearly you didn’t bother to listen to the interview before commenting.

Thumper 12:13 pm 02 Jul 12

Usually all we hear from Leigh is ‘Abbottabbotabbott’ and the party line.

Good to see there is some depth in him.

Then again, he may soon be leader of the ALP given that he looks like one of the few sitting ALP members that will hold their seats come next September.

pajs 11:56 am 02 Jul 12

Another trolling post. Either you aren’t bright enough to have understood the material, or you are deliberately misrepresenting it (see davo101’s post).

To spell it out, the point he was making wasn’t ‘classist’. It was that for families without histories of having members get into and through tertiary education, the breakthrough of having a child get a degree, or a higher degree, is a big deal. For families with established histories of tertiary education there is less of a ‘breakthrough’ kind of big deal to these achievements.

dungfungus 11:40 am 02 Jul 12

The “sandstone” universities usually require a higher UAI (or whatever it is called these days) so they don’t discriminate the “westies” as Leigh suggests.
I wonder what Leigh’s UAI was?
Sounds like the politics of intelligence envy to me.

c_c 11:31 am 02 Jul 12

Well, given his own colleagues at ANU are quite openly glad to see him gone, he was never going to be very popular with the elite anyway.

davo101 10:56 am 02 Jul 12

I would suggest before commenting that people listen to the full interview so that they can hear the comment in the post in context.

imagicnation 10:56 am 02 Jul 12

Methinks the Member thinks himself on the path for higher office. Which, in this day and age, means sympathising with the ‘average’ Australian (whatever the hell that term means)

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