The Likes of Us: A Biography of the White Working Class

The white working class is demonised. In the wake of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, they were cast as wholesale racist cattle by the liberal press, the rightwing press mock their tastes and attitudes; they take to the streets when paedophiles and asylum seekers are in their midst, they expose their lives in TV documentaries, they love Gucci and hate the Euro...Michael Collins was brought up in Elephant and Castle, where his family had lived for generations. Here he looks back at the intertwined history of Walworth and his family, from his great great great grandfather's life during the establishment of an urban white working class culture in the 19th century, to his own upbringing amongst the new tower blocks of the 1960s. Along the way he discovers that middle-class condescension towards the white working class is nothing new. Missionaries from other classes have always descended to study, influence, patronise, politicise, socially engineer, and now to demonise them - including Henry Mayhew, Charles Booth, George Orwell, Jessica Mitford, Oswald Mosley, Nell Dunn, town planners and contemporary journalists too numerous to mention. This angry, yet tender book concludes with Collin's present-day return to the Elephant, to discover what remains of his tribe at a time of significant cultural change.