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CLASSThe Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that everyone is entitled to the freedoms set out in it – “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.

The Equality Act’s list of protected characteristics covers age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation.

Spot the difference.

Your probably have already.  But if you haven’t, it’s as follows.  The sex stuff, if that’s quite the right way of putting it, is more developed in the Equality Act.  And the declaration mentions language, which is interesting. But neither marks the main divergence between them – namely, that the Equality Act has nothing to say about “national or social origin, property, birth or other status.  In a nutshell, it is silent about class.

This is par for the course.  Britain has a series of anti-discrimination measures originating in the 1960s, mostly covering race, sex and disability, but panning out in the Equality Act to cover the features set out in the list I cite.  But why should class be excluded?

After all, class is like the characteristics that enjoy protection, though in different ways.  Like race, one can’t help possessing it.  But like gender, one can change it (or “transition from” it, in the phrase of the act) – at least if John Prescott, who once declared himself “middle class”, was right.  Like sex or disability, it can hold back one’s life chances.  Like sexual orientation, it can be confusing, at least to some.  Like religion, it excites strong feelings.  Like maternity, it involves other people.  And like pregnancy, it can surprise one when one least expects it.

You may object that the point of anti-hatred and discrimination laws is to protect minorities, and that members of one social class are treated in this way while members or another are not.  (Your choice of which may not be the same as your neighbour’s.  But then again, he – or she – is probably a member of a different class.)

If so, you are behind the times.  The theology that binds pro-equality and anti-discrimination law together is that equality is good and discrimination is bad – the equality in question being that of esteem, rather than simply that of opportunity or outcome.  Minorities no longer have much to do with it, on paper, anyway.

This being so, what’s good for the Pakistani-origin man and mixed ethnicity woman and transgendered Vicar and bisexual pregnant mum and Satanist…is also good for the upper-caste Pakistani-origin man and working-class mixed ethnicity woman and Old Etonian transgendered Vicar and bisexual pregnant mum from Bolton and Satanist from Reigate.  All for one and one for all.

So it’s clearly time for a law to ban class discrimination and hatred.  The cultural knock-on will be a bit of a shock, as that of the early anti-discrimination laws was in its time.  A mass of TV will have to go the way of The Black and White Minstrel Show.  No more repeats of The Good Life or Keeping Up Appearances.  No more radio renditions of Working Class Man, Career Opportunities or the Eton Boating Song.  Adapating the Tate or the National Gallery to class sensibilities will be a ticklish business, at least if Holbein or L.S.Lowry is on the menu, or rather the walls.  Architecture, with its schools of nostalgia and brutalism, will need a Royal Commission.

Talking of menus, food is a culinary minefield.  Compared to what’s to come, the post-budget row in 2012 about VAT on pasties is a mere appetiser. (Should guacamole be banned, or mushy peas, or both? Speak, Lord Mandelson.)  Clothes: white stilettos, pink cords, shell suits, bow ties, anything from Boden – all must go.  Homes, exterior of: no mock Tudor beams, doors that open directly onto the street, wisteria, or signs that say “Beware of the kids” – houses must be “adapted”, as under anti-discrimination law.  Homes, interior of: no cruets, family heirlooms, or pitbulls.  Accents: don’t even start.

My rough take is that the Right would gain from the anti-hatred bit and the Left more from the anti-discrimination bit – on the ground that most class hate is anti-upper class, and comes from the Left, while the most powerful closed shops have a big slice of privately-educated people in them, many of whom vote Right.

To tear class hatred out by the roots, all those Tory-despising comedians – the Marcus Brigstocks and Jack Whitehalls – would have to leave the stage.  The Daily Mirror would close.  Kevin Maguire would have to consider another profession.  But as is the way with these things, the Left would need its slice of the action, however unfair this might be.  So Jacob Rees-Mogg would be banned.  As would Blue Collar Conservatives and its secret left-wing equivalent, whose existence I can exclusively reveal: White Tie Labour.  (“I am proudly privately educated, and my family was even more posh than Tristram Hunt’s.”)

As for class discrimination, the Office of Fair Access would have to be beefed up, and its remit expanded to reach far beyond the Universities – into the corridors of power in which privately-educated people are over-represented: Parliament, the law, the media, the City and so forth. But perhaps the Lobbs-made boot will be on the other foot, and upper-class people would start to sue, say, the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, if they can prove their origin.  Which leads us to an overwhelming question: what is class, anyway?

Yes, yes. I know that this is April 1, that this proposal is an April Fool, and that the jokes are hackneyed or, worse, “offensive” – as jokes about class tend to be.  But something about the idea of a bill to ban class discrimination and hatred nags at me.  Yes, it would be wrong.  And, yes, it would also be unenforceable – or at least very hard to enforce.

But here’s the thing.  Why is discrimination on the ground of the family into which you born less unfair than discrimination on the ground of the colour of your skin?  And for race, you can substitute sex, disability and all the rest of it.  The only reason I can think of is that the effort would be too much bother.  So for prejudice, the ancient motive for discrimination, we substitute idleness.

The state, however, is never idle – at least when it comes to expanding its reach.  It has half of a sleeping eye cocked open.  A new anti-discrimination and hatred law would mean more inspectors, more statistics, more reports, more inquiries.  More role models in schools, championing the officially approved Mockney accent, as pioneered by Tony Blair.  A new “Kick Class out of football” campaign. More powers for the Equality Commission.  New taxes to pay for the re-designation of classrooms as pupil centres, of First Class carriages as Executive Travel Suites…

What have I started?

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