Great moments from Labour history no. 453: The Gentrification of the Working Class


Trips down memory lane with our elderly correspondent Citizen Cuddis

This iconic photograph was taken by Fenton Hopscotch, unofficial historian of the Scottish Labour movement — so unofficial in fact that an injunction compelling him to stay at least a kilometre away from their offices and staff was granted at Paisley Crown Court only yesterday.

Hopscotch’s genius was to capture the image of the first ever pinky raised in a working man’s boozer — The Coatbridge Rivet-Whacker and Split-Pin Dunter’s Social Club — which won the Queen’s award for services to one-armed banditry for 1965.

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‘Shandy drinker in flying-saucer hat’ f1.4, ISO 1200 (lens cap off, trousers at half mast). Copyright 1952: Fenton Hopscotch. Note the flying saucer hat — all the rage in Falkirk during the 50s — the left-side wally dug playing peek-a-boo (‘Polmont style’). In Scotland, prior to 1985 the drinking of shandy was illegal. Those found guilty could be sentenced to a week at Butlin’s Ayr.

Shandy drinker in flying saucer hat‘ was, in its day, a sign of things to come. It signposted the gentrification of Labour — a process which would ultimately cause the party to explode like a Jumbo Bag of broth mix dropped from a ‘Better Together’ liveried dirigible into a Lidl’s car park from 10,000 feet.

As the practice of pinky-lifting spread through the working class faster than a STD through a hippy commune, those to the left of the party pulled their goatee beards off in outrage. Those to the left of those to the left of the party, even more outraged, also ripped their moustaches off in protest: Surely the working class had no place in its collective consciousness for raised pinkies, did it? They’d be using handkerchiefs to blow their noses next!

The pinky gesture was increasingly seen by the very-hard, very-left as the very biggest class betrayal since the Labour Party repealed The People’s Right to Spit in the Street Act of 1949.


Socially, the pinky gesture introduced a genteel aspect to getting blootered. Those who used it were effectively saying, ‘See me? Ah’m upwardly mobile me!’ Those who used it too flamboyantly, however, ran the risk of being leapt upon on the way home, malkied and dumped in a skip.

A sign by the door of a little known watering hole in Leith Docks is testimony to the divisions that the gesture still provokes. It reads: ‘Anyone caught scoofing half pints of Old Speckled Hen with their pinky at a gallus angle will be barred sine die.’