This essay argues that Tom Slater's article makes several important points regarding what he rightly suggests is the disappearance of a critical edge from much of the recent gentrification literature. It explores one of these points in greater depth, i.e. the notion that the working class occupy a ‘backstage’ role vis-à-vis the analysis of gentrification. This is done via a discussion of gentrification and London's class structure in relation to the work of Tim Butler and Chris Hamnett. The essay makes a plea for more ‘bottom up’ accounts of gentrification which focus upon the urban working class, especially in relation to contemporary processes of policy-driven state-led gentrification.