Area man unimpressed by Mr Nicholas Clegg, even less impressed by Lord Snooty

Let’s take a brief look at what’s been happening over in Britland, where the main business of the election is. The first leaders’ debate has taken place and, bafflingly, the public seem to have warmed big time to Mr Nicholas Clegg, propelling the Lib Dems up the polls. I don’t really get it, but then I didn’t get the SuBo thing either.

Conversely, I find myself warming these days to Simon Heffer. This worries me a little. I’m not sure if it’s my advancing years or Hefferlump’s, but I couldn’t stand him when he was a brash young Powellite. Now that he seems to have transmogrified into the Telegraph‘s answer to Victor Meldrew, and in particular is pouring copious scorn on “Dave” Cameron, I find him rather entertaining. So, Simon has an idea about why Clegg did so well:

We now know exactly who Nick Clegg is: he is Mr Integrity, the nation’s sweetheart, the only honest man in politics. I had thought the public were a bit brighter than that, and would see through his pious, sanctimonious, oleaginous, not-me-guv display of cynical self-righteousness: but they didn’t. And for that we can only blame the two inadequates with whom he had the good fortune to go in front of the cameras: for they were shocking.

Quite so. Mr Clegg has positioned himself as the anti-politician, helped along by his party having been out of power for nearly a century. And when the public dislike Brown and aren’t sold on Cameron, there’s an obvious gap in the market that Clegg exploited to the full. Helped along, of course, by the performances of his opponents. Say on, Simon:

Mr Brown’s impersonation of a robot, and his projection of all the charm of a caravan site in February, were pretty predictable: but the place where hair was really being torn out yesterday was around poor old Dave. The attempt by this trust-funded Old Etonian (and Old Bullingdonian) to come over as Mr Ordinary was rather tragic: if we have to hear much more about his children’s state school and his family’s experience of the NHS, some of us will need medical attention of our own.

But where he really failed, as could easily have been predicted, was when the economy came up. Let us remember one fact above all others: that Gordon Brown has presided over the greatest economic catastrophe in our country since 1931. And yet, when this subject was raised, the audience regarded his promises on how to put things right as positive and Dave’s as negative. For Mr Brown to come out on top in this is like the proverbial one-legged man winning the arse-kicking contest. It defies belief. Yet he prevailed because the Tories, who went along with Labour’s dire economic policy (“sharing the proceeds of growth”) until banks started going bust, have absolutely no credibility on economic matters. Their policies are, except in one or two details, identical to those of Labour. And when you have a real thing and an imitation to choose from, you choose the real thing.

Hmm. Food for thought there, while Craig Murray has a theory about Cameron’s failure to get his message across:

Cameron is being coached for the debates by the Hon. Anthony Charles Gordon-Lennox, son of Lord Sir (sic) Nicholas Charles Gordon-Lennox, grandson of the Duke of Richmond. The Hon. Anthony Charles Gordon-Lennox is the Tories’ communications guru. Tax dodger in chief Lord Ashcroft presumably thinks the Hon. Anthony is worth the £322,196 pa the Tories pay him.

The Hon. Anthony is, naturally, an old Etonian. This is no laughing matter. Cameron evidently has a visceral need to be surrounded only by people of precisely his own caste. Do we really need an 18th century government? Hence his obsession with tax breaks for the ultra rich. Hence also his inability to communicate anything to anyone who doesn’t think yes is pronounced yaaah.

The Tory front bench does, as it happens, tend to remind one of the denizens of the Drones Club in one of Wodehouse’s lesser works. (Except for Gideon “George” Osborne, who has an uncanny resemblance to that bloke in The Fast Show who was in love with his gardener.) It’s the return of Macmillanism, only without Macmillan’s substance. And you know, “Dave” can be as free as he likes with the glottal stops, whilst Mrs Cameron (the daughter of a baronet and stepdaughter of a viscount) seems to have picked up a distinct Estuary twang from somewhere, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone in the Tory leadership with a feel for the concerns of the council estate, as opposed to the landed estate. Bring back David Davis, I say.

Finally, the Thunderer takes a rare trip outside the M25 to the Nottinghamshire constituency of Ashfield, where Labour candidate Gloria de Piero continues to draw media attention. To her credit, reporter Camilla Long does seem to realise – in tones that make you wonder how often she gets out of Wapping – that Ashfield is a depressed area with serious problems related to deprivation, as you’d expect from a former coalfield area. There’s a story to be told there, and the candidate may even be keen to talk about that story, but as with previous coverage, our press seem to be fixated on the candidate having massive norks. Yes, we’d noticed them. Gloria’s tits may be hard to miss, but do they really justify so many column inches in the national press? Not for the first time – and yes, I’m looking at you, Ruth Gledhill – I go to read the Times and wonder if I’ve clicked on the Onion by mistake. That paywall can’t come soon enough.


  1. anglonoel said,

    April 18, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Don’t Hassle The Heff! 😉

  2. BenSix said,

    April 19, 2010 at 11:27 am

    I had thought the public were a bit brighter than that, and would see through his pious, sanctimonious, oleaginous, not-me-guv display of cynical self-righteousness: but they didn’t.

    He’s not wrong, is he. Clegg was so strident in mentioning, er – trident, that I fancied it was a nervous tic.

  3. ejh said,

    April 19, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Hmm. Food for thought there

    Well, not really, since what he’s saying is “the recession was caused by public spending”.

  4. Leveller on the Liffey said,

    April 23, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    I suppose that people of a voting persuasion in England (Wales and Scotland may be other matters) are so disgusted by the antics of all MPs, annoyed by the smugness or performance of Labour and are appalled by the Tories that they’re desperate to find a new pop idol in Nick Clegg (even if they are sceptical of all politicos, including the Lib Dems).

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