Angus Take House

Worst Take of the Week: Gammon Men vs 'The Gig Economy Is Really Cool'

What a week for terrible hot takes.
Left: Twitter; Right: Robert Evans / Alamy Stock Photo

Welcome to Angus Take House – a weekly column in which I will be pitting two of the wildest takes the world's great thinkers have rustled up against each other. This is your one-stop shop for the meatiest verdicts and saltiest angles on the world's happenings. Go and grab a napkin – these juicy hot takes are fresh from the griddle.

TAKE #1:

What’s the story: Referring to puce Brexiteers as "gammons".
Reasonable take: Bit salty.
Pineapple and Egg Take: Gammon is a slur.


All this week, Twitter – and the close-knit circles of political journalists who write articles about each other – have had one word on their lips. One pink, gristly, fleshy lump of a word: "gammon".

If you haven’t been keeping up with this scintillating discussion, a summary: following last year's general election Question Time on the BBC, an image (above) was widely circulated on Twitter, composed of screenshots of nine ruddy-faced men who had all taken Jeremy Corbyn to task for his anti-nuclear weapons stance. Quickly, the term gammon was adopted to describe them, a word that has since become a byword for a certain type of Brexit-voting, immigrant-bashing, affluent middle-class man.

This week, for some unknown and ultimately depressing reason, gammon went from being a lefty-in-joke to headline news. Excoriating think-pieces from the Times to the Spectator began to pile up, clogging the pipes of content mills across Holborn as the commentariat leapt to the defence of marginalised white blokes. Their big argument was largely that the term is classist, something that only goes to showcase the warped, limited understanding most commentators have of the working class. The idea that Brexit-voting blokes from the Shires represent society's most disadvantaged betrays a shallow understanding of how class really works in the UK. Akala put this pretty well on another episode of Question Time the other week, but it also indicates the criteria of working class is about something else entirely.


Others have tried to claim that gammon is racist, because it is a reference to skin colour. The biggest champion of this argument was DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly, who said she was "appalled" by the term. This is, for obvious historical and structural reasons, a load of bollocks – but of course we welcome Emma Little-Pengelly to the fight against systemic oppression all the same. Oh.

So yes, it is obviously absolute madness to suggest that "gammon" constitutes actual bigotry of any kind. Maybe it’s not "kind or gentle", but attempts by supposedly credible journalists to characterise it as something more sinister than a joke are laughable, if not offensive, given how willing they are to defend free speech when any other maligned group is in the firing line.

THEN AGAIN, THAT SAID, it's also shit banter and if I read one more gammon joke I’m going to vote Conservative at the next election.

TAKE #2:

What’s the story? The gig economy.
Reasonable Take: Would I like to cycle bowls of pad thai across the city for £6-an-hour with no job security or employment rights? Not if I can help it, tbh.
Authentic Millennial Hot Take: The gig economy is radical, my dude.

This is nice. The Telegraph, clearly fed up of publishing opinion pieces with titles like "If millennials wanted to own houses so much, they’d build them with their bare hands", have decided to launch a new column. "Refresh" – coming in with a name like a Christian youth outreach programme – is described as "a new initiative by young people, for young people, to provide a free-market response to Britain's biggest issues". Very cool indeed!


Sadly, this exciting new initiative has kicked off with a piece that couldn’t be less in touch with the majority of young people if it tried. Arguing that millennials have "embraced" the gig economy, the writer reckons this new form of untethered employment is empowering workers and making things cheaper for consumers. Of course, what this really comes down to is your definition of "embrace" – if by embrace you mean "grabbed desperately at", then maybe the headline has a point, otherwise it seems to have missed the mood on the ground. The writer goes on to say that young people "aren’t interested in labelling themselves as socialist or capitalist, but they do care about the opportunities new markets, enabled by technological advancement, are bringing them". Have to admit I personally haven’t heard anyone talking about new market opportunities, but maybe I’m showing my age!

The piece makes a basic – and very Telegraphy – conflation between the workers frantically pedalling patties around Hackney and the entrepreneurs who are making the big money. It’s all very well celebrating Nick D'Aloisio, who recently sold his app Summly to Yahoo for £30 million, but the stories of the cyclists and "task rabbits" whose wages fluctuates, who earn £1 for every delivery on top of a measly hourly rate that amounts to well below the living wage (in London, at least), are glossed over entirely. "Challenging the traditional, hierarchical employer-employee relationship" might sound dynamic and buzzy, but sadly for most it’s challenging for all the wrong reasons.

The really sad part of this rictus-grinning take is the opening, where the writer describes handing leaflets out in the lead up to the 2010 election campaign. "It was a different time – we were unfalteringly optimistic that Cameron's brand of conservatism could pull the party back from a decade in the wilderness." While heartbreaking, it sort of sums up the problem here. If the Telegraph's #Millennial column is going to open with a teary tribute to the glory days of Davey Cameron’s coalition, it's clear they’ve got a long way to go.

PRIME CUT: Gammon, obviously. Now please get that word out of my sight.