Talk:Champagne socialist

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Examples needed[edit]

Firstly, why is this page so light on detail? Champagne socialist gets bandied about frequently, especially these days. I suspect that it gets on the grill of a few too many people, seeing as it applies to an awful lot of journalists, MPs and middle class types who read the Guardian - hence the frequent editing. Who knows, maybe Chuka 'Chukapedia' Umunna has been on here!

Anyway, I think examples are needed: here's a few to start off. Polly Toynbee, Will Self, Chuka Umunna MP......

Wouldn't giving examples endanger the neutrality of the article considering it is such a subjective and derisive term? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:40, 2 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Old talk from VfD. It was decided not to delete the article:

  • Champagne socialist - a joke. user has history of vandalism. --Jiang | Talk 09:35, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)
    • It's not a joke. It's a common term at least in British politics and possibly elsewhere. There may be well be enough to eke out an article here - if not it would be a footnote on the socialism and/or british politics pages. Please do not call things a joke without knowing what you are talking about. Pete/Pcb21 (talk) 09:44, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)
      • limousine liberal would seem to be the equivalent American term (oweing to their unique use of the word liberal). I agree that there's an article there somewhere. -- stewacide
    • This is a serious term in British politics. Keep. Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair! 09:51, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)
      • Is the term really used often? I only get 500 hits on Google, but some are from the BBC. I'm not sure. Daniel Quinlan 10:10, Dec 15, 2003 (UTC)
      • Keep. It may not appear all that often, but the bottom entry on the first page of Google I get is in Polish, so the term's definitely got about. -- Arwel 13:32, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)
        • It's not used hugely often, but it is used often enough. I get 747 Google hits - I'd've guessed there would be more - I suppose usage has tailed off a bit in recent years (where recent years = google cache years)
    • Keep. Very widely used term. Only a joke if you think Tony Blair a joke. Ooops. But seriously, keep. Bmills 10:17, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)
      • For TB can't be a champagne socialist... that would pre-suppose that he is a socialist :=). I guess the label could be applied to John 'Two Jags' Prescott though! Pete/Pcb21 (talk) 11:23, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)
      • In Ireland, we had our very own Dick Spring. And yes, that is his real name. Bmills 11:32, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)
    • Keep, although it might be nice to make it a redirect to a single page which explains synonymous terms, and perhaps other such phrases in politics. Onebyone 11:46, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)

ping 07:23, 16 Dec 2003 (UTC)

    • Keep. There are already good articles on the Australian and US equivalents. Secretlondon 12:38, Dec 15, 2003 (UTC)
    • Keep. Completely legitimate, although certainly not an American term. Anjouli 17:10, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)
    • Keep. I can't believe anyone was even thinking of deleting this! --Daniel C. Boyer 21:27, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Champagne Socialists may claim to be against the Capitalist system but will still happily function in it Well they don't have much choice, do they? If the system IS a capitalist one, what are they supposed to do? Refuse to work and sit in a tent for 30 years waiting for capitalism to collapse? What about people in communist countries who don't particularly agree with their system but still happily function in it? What childish term would you apply to them? Pathetic.

End of VfD talk

The first line[edit]

A champagne socialist is a derogatory term originating in the UK for a person who purports to support socialism ideologically, but supposedly disregards this ideology in the course of their daily lives.

I have removed the "supposedly" because there is no supposition about it. A champagne socialist *is* someone who acts in that way. The supposition comes when we decide if a particular person meets the criteria of being a CS. An equivalent situation: "A socialist is to the left of centre of politics" versus "A socialist is supposedly to the left of centre of politics". Pete/Pcb21 (talk) 12:05, 23 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Before I edited it, the article said "The phrase refers to politicians that are perceived as having socialist tendencies in their ideologies but disregard socialist ideals in their daily life." I don't think that definition is quite right: I think it reads like it's been influenced by McCarthyist thinking which assumes that socialism is a greater evil than hypocrisy.

The phrase champagne socialist is never used to describe people who deny being influenced by socialist thought. You never hear a politician saying "I'm not a socialist" being answered with "yes you are a socialist, you're actually a champagne socialist!" So I think the word perceived is out of place.

The point is that a champagne socialist isn't really a socialist at all. Put it another way, a champagne socialist is someone who doesn't practice what they preach.

But you don't have to be a politician to be a champagne socialist. Anyone who claims to be an advocate of the working class, but who doesn't practice what they preach, is also a champagne socialist. I've tried to make that point in the article, but perhaps it's a bit waffly now, can anyone improve on it? Thanks. Squashy 15:53, 19 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I notice that there are no citations at all on the part of the article naming prominent champagne socialists. In most cases the reason for them being champagne socialists is clear (although a citation wouldn't hurt). In the last two, Prescott and Burchill, no evidence is provided. Now I know (and most people in the UK do as well) that Prescott is probably a champagne socialist, but a quote from a newspaper article etc wouldn't hurt. It's a bit dangerous to go insulting people without the evidence to back it up! Captainj 17:51, 22 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Amazingly the only reference I can find to John Prescott being a Champagne Socialist is the Evening Standard being forced to apologise for calling him one [1]. I think we should remove his name until a better reference is available.

In fact I think we should remove all names without actual references (the article says they've been labelled Champagne socialists, prove it! (I will actually try myself, when I have the time).

Text from article:

Those who have been labeled as "champagne socialists" include Geoffrey Robinson, (ex-Paymaster General and chairman of Coventry City Football Club), Gavyn Davies (former Labour Party donor, Goldman Sachs banker and BBC chairman), Vanessa Redgrave (actress and prominent socialist), Julie Burchill (columnist for the Times and Guardian) and John Prescott (current Deputy Prime Minister)[citation needed]. In the film The Aviator, Howard Hughes labels the whole of middle class left-wing Americans as champagne socialists.

End. Captainj 15:12, 23 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've added the ones I could find, + a couple of others I found by accident (whilst searching for the names on the list). There are plenty of references out there for names above that are not included in the article, but I couldn't find any I could trust. I'm convinced that Prescott in particular must have been labelled a champagne socialist, somewhere. so I would welcome any help digging out the reference. Captainj 15:33, 23 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Since this conversation all references to current "champagne socialists" have been removed except Margaret Hodge, who for some reason is also the only contemporary example cited on the Hampstead liberal category. Unless anyone objects I'll delete these two references, as they are uncited and look a bit like a quiet vendetta to me. Kilburn London 11:32, 20 June 2012

Bolinger Bolshevik[edit]

I added this as an equivalent term. It gets 14 600 on Google so I think it's worth having. I think it is really used as "Champagne Socialist only more so" implying good Champagne and far left but I couldn't refence tha and din't want to commit original reseach. I someone more knowledgable could explain the differences that would be peachy. A Geek Tragedy 22:22, 12 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Methinks it just sounds better but fewer people recognize 'Bollinger' (nb 2 ll's), or indeed 'Bolshevik' M@T arragano (talk) 03:51, 23 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Smoked salmon socialist[edit]

I'm Irish and have never heard that phrase in my life. Does anyone have a citation for it at least? (talk) 12:33, 26 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I have preposed merging the following articles to the LIBERAL ELITE article.

Firstly, they all say much of the same thing and secondly if they were all brought together it would give a worldwide viewpoint instead into "Liberal elitism" instead of having a US bias. I will copy this message on all the other article talk pages. All discussions should be done on the LIBERAL ELITE talk page so that all discussions are kept together. — Realist2 (Who's Bad?) 05:37, 26 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No. Merging these term into "liberal elite" automatically gives an American bias because "liberal" is not synonymous with socialism anywhere else in the world. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:31, 15 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No also. Absolutely agree with IP above. I'll go to Liberal elite talk page to contribute. FightingMac (talk) 17:07, 13 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Would be nice to have some (an?) antonyms if any exist - either that or a corresponding term on the right of the spectrum (talk) 13:48, 27 August 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Usage in Finland[edit]

The term “red wine socialist” (rödvinssocialist) might be used in Finland Swedish, but in Finnish the terms salonkisosialisti or salonkikommunisti are far more common. --Silvonen (talk) 16:55, 16 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Usage in Germany[edit]

The german synonym mentioned in the article is wrong: Toskana-Fraktion only refers to a group of politicans with a background in the german 68er-Bewegung. Toskana-Fraktion-Members are no longer socialists today (notable exception Lafontaine).

A better translation seems to be "Salonkommunist". see: and — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:31, 29 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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All the people who roleplay as "poor" or homeless — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:45, 11 April 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Missing the point[edit]

"...the champagne socialist espouses leftist views while enjoying a comfortable lifestyle, implying that left-wing views are really only held by privileged people." This couldn't be more wrong if you tried. By adding the qualifier (champagne), a distinction is made between socialists at large and this specific type of socialists - champagne socialists. Like the qualifier "rabid" in "rabid dogs" separates the rabid ones from dogs at large, "champagne" separates socialists in the same manner. So, rather than "implying that left-wing views are really only held by privileged people," the phrase points to a group of socialists who are at the same time "privileged." It is a label for a subgroup of socialists, but The Guardian managed to draw a different, invalid conclusion. Was it because "In the UK, the term typically refers to affluent Labour Party supporters, who stereotypically live in Inner London and read The Guardian?" Cleanup is apparently needed. Nikolaneberemed (talk) 14:37, 19 June 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As the article already makes clear, this is just a viewpoint of some critics, and that other critics have discredited it. Both viewpoints are supported by reliable sources. This is simply reported speech - Wikipedia makes no attempt to present opinion as truth. No cleanup required. Cnbrb (talk) 18:40, 20 June 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Indeed missing the point, willingly[edit]

The meaning / intent provided is wrong. When people are called champagne socialists, or their equivalent in other languages, it's not to point out some kind of hypocrisy. That may be the easy-to-understand explanation, but it's not the right one. The term rather points out two connected actual problems with the reality it attempts to describe:

- That those people don't have accurate knowledge about the matters they pass judgement on - they know not more about the 'working classs lives than anyone else, and in particular they may know less than some of those they criticise. It's not that their heart isn't in the right place, it's rather that their judgement of policy and politicians is not as informed as they think it is.

- That in many cases, the policies they favour, which don't affect them personally, will have unintended undesirable consequences over those they believe to defend AND - quite importantly - over the owners of small businesses, who are often little better off than the 'working class', and are crucial for a country's (and its working class's) well-being. Now, small business owners are usually willing to let the working class speak for itself, but don't take it lightly when it's some rich people who don't have to work a lot for a living who wish to speak for the working class.

At the heart of the issue is also that the intellectual left, while professing to be only against Big Capital, has historically seen small capital as the real enemy, considering them nothing but enablers. There is however a fear of admitting that, the worse it gets in public is 'you didn't build that'.

Were this concept limited to 'hey, you are complaining about problems that don't affect you personally', there wouldn't even be a page about it. Trying to frame it this way is in itself a champagney socialist thing. (talk) 15:16, 13 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's not Wikipedia's job to say what meaning is right or wrong, only to describe what commentators have said, and the article does this, supported by citations. There may indeed be alternative interpretations. As usual, you are welcome to make additions to any Wikipedia article, but they must be supported by reliable sources. Cnbrb (talk) 17:57, 13 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]