Monday, 1 October 2007

Port Vale, Ernest Bevin and the poverty of aspirations

The less said about my home-town team Port Vale at the moment, the better - except that there can be few managerial departures that have been carried out with heavier hearts than that of Martin Foyle last week. ‘Tinny’ had been with the club as player, coach and manager for a decade and a half. As a player, he scored some of the best received goals in the club’s history, including some of those that helped maintain an unlikely superiority over the Vale’s richer and better-known local rivals, Stoke City, for a period in the 1990s. Football’s a tough old trade but not even bottom place in Division Two can dim the affection with which he will always be remembered by fans and management alike.

One of the current players, Paul Harsley, is unlikely ever to be the recipient of such fondness. ‘The best thing about being a footballer is that it’s a good laugh and the hours are good,’ he once said. What was it that Ernest Bevin once said about the real poverty of the working classes being their poverty of aspiration?

Actually, I’m not sure exactly what Ernest Bevin did say on the subject - or indeed whether he ever used the phrase ‘poverty of aspiration’ at all. When I quote someone, even a famous quote by someone long since dead, I take an old-fashioned journalistic pride in making sure that I get it right. Checking up on this quote, however, I can find no authoritative reference to it anywhere.

In a Chatham House speech a couple of years ago, Gordon Brown attributed it to Aneurin Bevan. I think he’s wrong. Can anyone provide chapter and verse?

1 comment:

Pablo said...

“Port Vale, Ernest Bevin and the poverty of aspirations”. Did you bet someone that you could work those into the one headline?