June 1, 2001
3:57 AM   Subscribe

Boris Johnson, crying into his beer, describes the moment he first became aware of "Tory feelings".
posted by Mocata (20 comments total)
"Like many of my generation, I probably became conscious of Tory feelings while at school in 1982, when apathetically discussing the Falklands, and it suddenly occurred to me that it was damn fine and damn right of Mrs Thatcher to want to take them back." What a quote!

More generally, the fevered anguish of the right-wing commentariat has been about the only enjoyable thing about this election. The current Spectator is one big howl of pain from the likes of Bruce Anderson, while over in the Telegraph Crazy Janet Daley is more or less openly calling for the electorate to be dissolved. And as for Freddie Forsyth's recent outburst in the Sun...

Only Littlejohn seems to be bearing up, heartened perhaps by the publication of his "novel" (which I have had the misfortune to read) and by yet more opportunities to crack lame jokes while exercising his fascination with gay sex.
posted by Mocata at 4:11 AM on June 1, 2001

What's curious about Johnson is that his social ineptitude makes him the closest that English politics (I don't say 'British' because Johnson is certainly English first) has to Bush. Except that he's an utter figure of fun.

More amusement from Thatcher today, warning against "elective dictatorship":

I applaud strong government, but not overweening government sustained by cronies, ciphers and a personality cult. I very much fear that, if Mr Blair is returned with a large majority, these already detectable tendencies will grow unchecked.

Um, wasn't that 1983-1990? But: are we looking towards the Strange Death of Tory England?
posted by holgate at 4:25 AM on June 1, 2001

I certainly hope so. But I fear they'll probably be back one day.
posted by Mocata at 5:18 AM on June 1, 2001

I love the Spectator at the moment, they sell it at a discount at my Uni and its well worth reading for a laugh. Full of insane paranoid rantings, for instance, Norman Tebbit accusing UKIP of being set up by MI6 to foil the Tories. Great stuff.
posted by laukf at 6:05 AM on June 1, 2001

Funnily enough I felt the first anti-tory feelings around the time of the Falklands Conflict.
posted by fullerine at 6:14 AM on June 1, 2001

A quote from the hilarious Janet Daley article

"Or that it [the electorate] is so ill-educated and befuddled that it can no longer make sense of the questions that it is asked, let alone the larger debate about its future as a nation?"

Oh, I get it, the reason I don't vote Tory is because I'm too stupid.
posted by fullerine at 6:21 AM on June 1, 2001

Just remember the 1992 polls.
posted by aaron at 6:28 AM on June 1, 2001

I have to admit, the UK press is far more capable than the American press. I saw some guy interview Hague on Newsnight the other day, and he just tore Hague apart like a rabid attack dog for almost 30 solid minutes. Unfortunately, I missed the later interview with Blair, so I have no idea if the interviewer was as harsh on him.
posted by aaron at 6:30 AM on June 1, 2001

Also in today's Torygraph a surprisingly good article by Alice Thompson on class and British politics. Basically she suggests that Labour and the Tories are switching places with Labour now the party of the right thinking middle class and the tories the uncouth party of the council estates. It's disturbingly persuasive and notes that you only win elections if the middle class supports you. I would suggest that any change has been in the political outlook of the middle class (and New Labour) whereas the Tories have remained in their right wing Thatcherite (which is no bad thing in itself) phase. Worth a look.

Oh aaron, they do that to everybody! It's what makes us the land of the free... :-]
posted by nedrichards at 6:50 AM on June 1, 2001

aaron, that was no guy - that was the Greatest Living Englishman (and Master of the Enigma Machine), Jeremy Paxman.
posted by Mocata at 7:07 AM on June 1, 2001

I saw the Blair interview, and they tore him up pretty good, too. And allowed audience members to do so. It reminded me of an angry town meeting where folks get up and complain to the mayor about their street not being shoveled.
posted by brucec at 7:40 AM on June 1, 2001

Paxo hates 'em all. Although the TV journos have been best when acting as conduits for the anger of real people. (Nothing in the Presidential debates came close to Blair having to deal with a pissed-off farmer this week.)

Anyway, as someone raised (and currently living) on a council estate, all I can say is that the "cheaper fags and petrol, and send the darkies home" mentality nurtured by Littlejohn and others appears to be offset by a desire for public services that work.

aaron: this is much closer to 1983 and the "longest suicide note in history" than 1992; especially when you think that in '92, the balding regional party leader was Neil Kinnock. Private Eye reported that Shadow Cabinet members aren't even bothering to provide the civil service with the usual briefing on what they'd want done as soon as they take office. And as Nick Cohen points out, this time round the requirement for balance has diminished the scrutiny that Labour's programme requires.

Personally, I'd love to see the Labour majority slashed, with big gains to the Lib Dems, SNP and Plaid, as it would reintroduce a semblance of accountability to Parliament, and force serious debate on English regional devolution and proportional representation.

And the press has been giving everyone a hard time: Blair's been savaged on both sides for having no principles (true); from the right for surreptitious tax-and-spend (partly true); and from the left for wasting a chance to push a more radical agenda. In short, I think the public mood -- quite unlike that in the US last year -- is for "quite a bit of change, thank you very much", and Blair's paranoia over cementing his reputation as the only two-term Labour PM may be his undoing. Quality beats quantity.
posted by holgate at 7:47 AM on June 1, 2001

Better: Nick Cohen in the Guardian's daily email:

It's terrifying: we're looking forward to an American future where only the middle classes and a very few organised sections of the traditional trade unions vote...

When Blair talks about a meritocracy, he means an aristocracy of wealth. We're creating a moneyed class in this country the like of which we haven't seen for centuries. Through the power of their wealth, they'll dominate the working middle classes, and you can see that already in the way that eccentric billionaires fund parties.

And a chill runs down my spine when the name of Robert Walpole bubbles out of my memory.
posted by holgate at 8:05 AM on June 1, 2001

Blair seems to have been savaged by anyone who's been allowed to see him in a non-scripted situation. Worst of all from his point of view, about the NHS, twice. Not quite the 'we-stand-for-improving-public-services-trust-us' meme that he hoped to convey.
posted by nedrichards at 8:25 AM on June 1, 2001

I think Nick Cohen's smartest point is that Blair's election campaign has been '"populism" meets the people, and leaves with a bloodied nose'. Really, what the government needs isn't focus group reports, but the chance to be shouted at by upset people. All the time.
posted by holgate at 8:50 AM on June 1, 2001

(Mocata--yay! More Martin Newell references!)
posted by rodii at 9:40 AM on June 1, 2001

All I know about British politics I learned from TV Go Home. That is all.
posted by MattD at 12:28 PM on June 1, 2001

Just occurs to me: Survivor and Big Brother at the same time, the opiates of the people?
posted by holgate at 4:29 PM on June 1, 2001

Quick OT question: how are the ratings for Survivor UK? Is it a compelling program in itself or is it the froth on an ocean of hype?
posted by davidgentle at 8:19 PM on June 1, 2001

Survivor UK. Froth. They're looking for 10mil but I don't think they're getting more than 7 at the moment [quick perspective Corrie and Eastenders get about 15mil an episode).

But, as with all of these things they get far more interesting the later on in the contest they get, when the contestants all think they're going to win. Oh, and they kicked off the prettiest female, always a mistake.

I will take great pride however that we were the nation that invented not just Who Wants toBe a Millinoaire but also Big Brother and Survivior, puts a warm glow in your heart doesn't it?
posted by nedrichards at 5:42 AM on June 2, 2001

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