Belfast Telegraph

Tulisa Contostavlos cocaine sting proves working class are still fair game

By Mike Gilson

We need to talk about Tulisa Contostavlos. I know next to nothing about her. Never seen her on television, nor listened to any of her records, but I feel the need to write about her.

She seems to have become the devil incarnate. Such is 24/7 media these days that she's everywhere. In the ether, so to speak.

I've looked her up online. She's very pretty, in a natural way.

When I was growing up on my estate, she was the sort of girl whose house us gormless boys would constantly cycle outside doing wheelies in a forlorn attempt to impress.

One of us would eventually pluck up courage to ask her out to the corner shop to be met with a straight no and a little deflating giggle.

Anyway, I've probably given away too much about my hopeless teenage years, so let's get back to the lovely Tulisa, who is so famous she doesn't need her surname.

If you do search for her, you will find lots of other words that have become associated with her. Chav and council estate Barbie are two of the most common.

It's Tulisa fever-pitch time online and the reason is she's been arrested after appearing to suggest she could point an undercover reporter from The Sun in the direction of some cocaine. The end of her prime-time fame and riches looks close.

I'm not going to make excuses for what she did, or didn't do. The undercover sting has a rightful place in journalism.

You only have to look at the excellent work The Sunday Times is doing with Lords and MPs over potential conflict of interests in Parliament to appreciate that.

But there's something that worries me about the Tulisa episode and the acres of newsprint spent on her.

She is the subject of a modern-day witch-hunt and her crime is only partially linked to drugs allegations.

The clue is in the aforementioned phrases that precede her name. For Tulisa, with her slightly scary street style and mates (she was in a hip-hop group called N-Dubz, whose male members were pretty unsavoury), has become too "uppity" for some of our cultural commentators.

With her "vulgar" mansion and bling she has attempted to move into ground reserved for the ever-widening middle classes, who alone know how to spend money properly and behave themselves. At least when not behind the net curtains, or in their accountant's office. Tulisa is a symbol of the last prejudice it's okay to revel in.

While ethnic minorities, religious groups, the disabled and even nationalists and unionists are rightly protected from bigoted scorn, the working class, the chavs in tracksuits, are still fair game.

And, boy, have the London newspapers had their cake-and-eat-it fun with Tulisa. If you had a pound for every time a middle-class harridan took her apart in a column, or blog, adorned with a picture of the singer displaying her semi-clad natural curves, you wouldn't need to work.

For Tulisa is truly the council estate girl who flew too close to The Sun. Her wings have been clipped and she must return to her rightful place back on those London streets.

But tell me something. Why would anyone take pleasure in that?

Belfast Telegraph


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