By Tom Pride
There’s a theory we’re heading back to the 80s, what with a Tory government cutting like there’s no tomorrow, riots in our cities and Adam and the Ants reforming.
Well, we’re not. This government is nothing like the 80s.
Because unlike the 80s, the toffs are back in charge again.
You see, the secret of Thatcher’s success was very simple but devastating. And it had nothing to do with her policies. The reason she was so successful was that she looked and sounded like one of US, not a toff.
A Tory leader who looked like one of US, not one of THEM?
No wonder Labour couldn’t win against her.
This also explains the Tory’s unexpected win in 1992. John Major had continued Maggie’s most successful policy – ie being a Tory leader who managed to look exactly like one of US (Edward Heath before her was an unusual case, he was an example of one of US who looked and sounded like one of THEM).
The Tories know this very well of course. Which is why David Cameron spends all his time trying to suppress his posh past. And why he tried to persuade some Tory candidates at the last election to change their double-barrelled names to more normal sounding ones on the not unreasonable basis that it makes them sound like snotty-nosed, useless upper-class twits (Annunziata Rees-Mogg reportedly refused Cameron’s request to change hers to Nancy Mogg – she lost).
Remember Labour’s disastrous Gene Hunt poster campaign during the election which actually managed to make David Cameron look cool?
It was a disaster because it did exactly what David Cameron had been trying to do for years.
Namely, to make him look like one of US, not the privileged Eton old-boy Bullingdon Club* bully he really is.
Yes, yes, yes I know it didn’t work. Nothing could ever work with someone who is clearly one of THEM, like David Cameron is. WE all knew hugging a hoody isn’t what WE do, it’s what one of THEM who are trying to BE one of US do.
Not only did Labour’s poster portray Cameron as one of US, but quite a cool one of US at that.
That’s the kind of mistake only one of THEM would make.
And that, of course, is why Labour politicians aren’t allowed to play the class card too much. Because most of them are one of THEM too. And let’s face it. Anyone – but anyone – who automatically judges someone by their background – eg Gorbals Mick or Toff Cameron – would have to be an idiot.
But I’m not a politician. And I don’t care if someone calls me an idiot because I probably am an idiot.
So here it is, what WE all know anyway.
David Cameron is not one of US. He’s a toff. So is George Osborne. And the mayor of London’s a toff too, in case you hadn’t noticed.
But Tom, it’s not where someone comes from that matters, I hear the cry, it’s where they’re going to that’s important.
The problem is that when the Bullingdon Boys smashed up a restaurant or destroyed property, they would tell the owner, don’t worry, I’ll pay for it, here’s a cheque. Destroying things becomes all too easy, because it’s something that can be done without a conscience. But what if the owner didn’t want a cheque? What if the owner wanted the broken property back the way it was before, in one piece?
The problem with this attitude is that THEY start to think THEY have the right to take away what belongs to US, simply because THEY can afford it.
Now put those same boys in charge of the country and surprise, surprise, what do WE get? Public services smashed up, public assets broken into pieces and the axe brought to things that belong to US.
But what about Maggie? The theory doesn’t hold water, does it, because she did the same to our public services, and she didn’t go to Eton or join the Bullingdon Club, did she?
That’s true but the fact is that Maggie was one of US, who wanted desperately to be one of THEM. And the best way to become one of THEM, is to give THEM what THEY want (See Tony Blair for another example of one of US who eventually became one of THEM).
But this is not just about class and privilege, although that’s a large part of it. This is about looking and sounding like someone who has had at least some experience of normal life. Someone who has had to do things like get up and commute to school or work in the morning, or someone who couldn’t get time off work to take the kids to the dentist or whatever or someone who knows what it’s like to not be able to afford to buy something you really want. In short, the kind of person 99.9% of the population is. Some of US make money, and become quite well-off and some of US are poor, some of US live in houses and some of US live in flats and some of US are single parents and some of US are married and some of US work and some of US are unemployed.
But none of US wear morning suits to school. And unlike Cameron, when WE go for our first job interview, WE don’t get someone call from Buckingham Palace recommending US to our prospective employer.
And this is where Labour politicians come unstuck too. Too often they look and sound like people who have never lived in the real world, people who have spent too much time in the comfortable cocoon of the political world all their lives.
*By the way, it’s not true the Bullingdon Club was full of toffs. That’s a vicious lie.
It was full of spivs too.