Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Striking the middle road

by Ben Soton

Strike: Lethal White by J K Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith). Adapted for TV by Tom Edge. Director: Susan Tully. Stars: Tom Burke, Holliday Grainger, Kerr Logan, Natasha O’Keeffe and others. Recently shown on BBC1 and still available on BBC iPlayer.

JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, recently stated the bleeding obvious, namely that there is a link between biological sex and gender. A number of Trans-activists blew their gaskets over this issue, accusing her of being the devil incarnate. Rowling, who is often wrong on key issues such as the European Union (EU), is also the author of the Cormorant Strike novels, writing under the name of Robert Galbraith. Lethal White, the recent BBC Sunday night drama, features Tom Burke as the Private Detective Cormoran Strike and Holly Grainger as his assistant Robin Ellacott.
    For the last few series, they have kept viewers wondering if romance is on the cards. Meantime, Strike has had numerous partners and Ellacott has married. At the end of the third episode however, Ellacott left her adulterous and boring husband whilst Strike was dumped by his girlfriend.
    The story has two distinct themes: corruption in high places and law breaking in low places. Ellacott, who with a slight northern accent comes from a neither particularly high nor low background, is able to infiltrate both places. In one episode with a new hairdo she passed as an intern for a Government Minister whilst faking a posh accent. In another episode and a change of clothes she posed as a teenage political activist whilst exaggerating her own Yorkshire accent. It is probably true that those in the middle are best apt at impersonating those at the bottom as well as those lower down the social scale.
    The narrative that Rowling is promoting forms the basis of a myth; namely that decent people in the middle are the victims of both a corrupt elite and social scum at the bottom. The drama actually gives an example of well-heeled types cavorting with petty criminals because they have access to class A drugs.
    Depending on where the middle actually begins and ends, this argument can appear convincing. Working people have little time for drug dealers and petty criminals; during the last election whilst campaigning for the Labour Party I was inundated with complaints of drug dealing around council estates on top of Labour’s failure to honour the Brexit Referendum. Although convincing, the argument is still flawed.
    Ultimately, who really holds state power in the country? Which group owns the greater proportion of the nation, or for that matter the world’s wealth? Who is responsible for numerous world wars, the slave trade and imperialism?
    Most petty criminals earn less than the minimum wage and live chaotic lives, few drive BMWs. Obviously under socialism these people would be subject to re-education and if this did not work, they would face the full force of the law.
    The notion of decent people in the middle being equally oppressed by those above them has been used by centre-right politicians for years and a narrative promoted by the likes of Tony Blair. Ultimately it lets the real enemy off the hook; although unlike others scapegoated these people are not totally faultless.

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