Raab’s opera slur towards Angela Rayner is a perfect example of Tory snobbery

Rayner, you see, committed the cardinal sin of going to the opera. Glyndebourne in fact, where she’d indulged in a tipple. And how dare she. That’s reserved for toffs, isn’t it?

It says an awful lot about his party’s attitude towards working class people

Champagne socialism is back, said dynamite Dominic Raab with a cheeky grin and the now infamous wink aimed at Angela Rayner – whom, with Boris Johnson trying to escape his troubles by hiding overseas – he was facing off against at PMQs.

What a card, eh. Bet the lads were cheering him on in the tea rooms after that. Our Raab bally well put the lady on the ropes, eh? What? WOT!

Rayner, you see, had committed the cardinal sin of going to the opera. Glyndebourne in fact, where she’d indulged in a tipple. And how dare she. That’s reserved for toffs, isn’t it? The rich and well-heeled. The only lefties allowed through the doors are champagne-swilling meeja luvvies, who let the Tory side down by voting for the oppo because... I don’t know, social conscience?

Raab may be an Oxford-educated lawyer, but he is an Asda price politician – so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that he had to resort to cheap tactics to protect himself from his vastly more talented opponent. But the fact that he was seemingly so punch drunk at being Johnson’s stand-in that he felt he had to engage in rancid snobbery to deliver a blow is very telling.

It says an awful lot about his party’s attitude towards working class people: which is, to my mind, a clear mixture of condescension and cliche, leavened with contempt. Raab’s party desperately wants their votes, but it doesn’t really want to associate with them. It refuses to rub shoulders with those it seems to view as the great unwashed. Hence the reductive mindset.

In Raab’s world, if you’re legitimately working class your cultural horizons are limited to EastEnders, Mrs Brown’s Boys – and maybe a Saturday afternoon at the footy if you can raise a payday loan to meet the price of a ticket. As for drinks? Tins of lager, at least for the men. Rayner, being a woman, might still retain her authenticity by having a white wine. But only if it’s the cheap stuff. Maybe she could pour a bit of lemonade in it to make it fizz?

Not that she needs any help with that – for Rayner has proved herself an effervescent Commons performer, particularly when faced with doltish clods like Raab. Disclaimer: opera’s not my thing, but the deputy prime minister and first secretary of state for egomania may care to note that the home of British opera wouldn’t even be in business without the assistance of funds provided by the working people who buy lottery tickets.

Go to its website and you’ll see the following: “The glorious home to the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet has been transformed into a 21st-century venue with the support of lottery funding.”

Now, Raab probably isn’t the sort of person to want to “sully himself” buying a scratchcard. But Rayner might have purchased a ticket in her time. And if she hasn’t, plenty of her constituents will have. A few more affordable tickets so they could sample the fruits of their labour wouldn’t go amiss.

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In the meantime, why shouldn’t Rayner indulge in the art form? Even advocate for it if she wants? Of course, she didn’t go to the Royal Opera House – she went to Glyndeborne, which has an even more pronounced veneer of elitism. But perhaps it is worth reminding the honourable member for Esher and Walton that it called upon the talents of refugees from Nazi Germany at its founding? Except refugees aren’t exactly flavour of the month in today’s Tory Party, are they? Not unless they’re being put on a flight to Rwanda.

Personally, opera as an art form leaves me rather cold, but I have friends who gush about it like I would about an Arcade Fire show; who tell me it was much more “pop” in its early days and was capable of causing controversy that upset the social order and riled the establishment in places where it was played.

The fact that Raab chose to sneer at Rayner for seeing the “Marriage of Figaro” is a demonstration not just of his snobbery but of his ignorance. This an opera in which the working classes have the upper hand for most of the performance, just like Rayner did in the Commons.

At the end, the count comes to realise his stupidity and goes on bended knee to to beg the forgiveness of his wife, in what an opera-buff friend describes as “the most tender of arias”.

Raab owes Rayner an apology for his slur, but he doesn’t seem a very tender sort of person to me – and I rather fear that he lacks the class, and certainly the ultimate decency, of the count.

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