Joan Collins’s latest dispatch from her base in St Tropez, where she keeps her finger on the pulse of British society, has appeared in The Spectator magazine, the journal for people who think society is going to the dogs because of indiscipline among the poor. I would attempt a parody of her views, except she seems to have beaten me to it.
“There’s something dreadfully Mugabe-ish about Gordon Brown’s attitude towards the ordinary citizens of Britain,” Joan writes. “He seems to care not one jot that we are all finding day-to-day living more and more horrible, with the rising prices of goods, fuel and transport, unfair taxes and rocketing mortgages. Thousands of pensioners – the same people who got us through the Second World War – are practically starving while the portals are wide open for every foreign immigrant who arrives and immediately collects massive benefits such as housing, health and maternity care.”
She goes on to note that she knows of two Eastern European girls who have become pregnant upon arrival in Britain and are now living a “relatively comfortable life” on housing benefit.
Where to start? Robert Mugabe’s principal political tactic – appealing to nationalist sympathies to justify attacks on people deemed to be outsiders – bears a closer resemblance to Joan Collins’s politics than those of Gordon Brown. Her idea that pensioners (who, contrary to her assertion, are mostly too young to have fought in the Second World War*) are suffering as a consequence of immigration policy is a classic nationalist false correlation. The two are connected only in the sense that both are a burden on the public purse – a link so tenuous that you could use the same argument to blame the plight of chicken farmers on the RAF, or the road death toll on Olympic athletes.
Joan also betrays the source of her information and opinions. Only a Daily Mail reader believes that you can live a comfortable life on housing benefit. Is it too much to hope that she was spoofing herself?
* The vast majority of Britons of pensionable age (about 80 per cent) would have been 16 or younger at the end of the War, so although many lived through it, it is not true to say that they contributed to the War effort.