Sunday, December 03, 2006

Booker spiked

A couple of months ago, I had lunch with Christopher Booker, and I also attended a lecture that he gave for The Bruges Group; I liked him, for he is a knowledgeable and witty gentleman. He also loathes the EU with a passion and that, obviously, is one reason to cleave to him.

Thus, I am more than happy to obey Richard North's exhortation to publish the missing part of today's column. Yes, that's right; for the first time in sixteen years, Booker has been spiked. So, here's the missing section and the picture (for which rights are, apparently, not available in Britain).
As David Cameron ends his first year as leader of the Opposition, there are clear signs that the greatest gamble in modern British politics has not come off. The little group of ex-public schoolboys who last year hi-jacked the Conservative Party have seemed to gamble on just one strategy. List everything the Party used to stand for – low taxes, the family, rolling back the power of the state, encouraging business, upholding our defences, curbing criminals, common sense – then go for the opposite.

The essence of the gamble has been the belief that, in wooing the support of Lib Dems, would-be greenies, Guardian readers and the supposed "soft centre", they could take their supposed "core" supporters for granted. But as support for Cameron falters, all the evidence seems to suggest that those wished-for new recruits to his "Not The Conservative Party" are not forthcoming, while the Party's former natural supporters are left baffled, dismayed and increasingly angry.

All this was neatly symbolised by the recent photo-opportunities staged by the three men now competing for the role of Britain's prime minister. Mr Blair and Mr Brown, aware that defence and national security (not long ago rating 34 percent on a Mori poll) still rank very much higher as voter priorities than "environmental" issues (only 8 percent), flew out to the Iraq and Afghan battle-zones to pose in front of the largest guns they could find. Mr Cameron, at the same time, flew out to the Sudan, in Lord Ashcroft's CO2 emitting private jet, to be pictured cuddling a little refugee child. It was the "Men from Mars" against "the Boy from Venus". "Darfur Dave" did not come well out of the contrast.

The tragedy is that, confronted by the most corrupt, hypocritical, inefficient, illiberal, discredited government in history, what millions of voters are looking for is an alternative which might put an end to the sleazy, self-regarding sham of the Blair era by displaying some "masculine" firmness: in cutting back on the bloated public sector and the out-of-control bureaucracy which is destroying our health service, education and police; which might encourage enterprise; which might restore democracy to local government; bring back some balance into our public finances; sort out the shambles into which our Armed Forces are sliding; uphold Britain's national interest, as we suffocate under the malfunctioning system of government represented by the European Union.

In other words, what much of the country is crying out for is a party which represents precisely those values which Mr Cameron's Not-The-Conservative Party seems so hellbent on abandoning. As for what he stands for instead, almost the only clear message Darfur Dave seems to have put over to the voters is his sentimental "save the planet" greenery, on which his dotty little gimmicks and practical ignorance have simply made him a laughing stock.

What many voters sadly begin to conclude is that Dave and his cronies seem so hopelessly ill-equipped to take on the serious business of government that, if we have to choose between one gang of PR merchants and another, better stick with the devil we know. Hence the evidence of the latest polls appearing to show that the gamble has failed. Ever larger become the number of would-be Conservatives sorely tempted to join that 40 percent who already feel so alienated from politics that they just stay sullenly at home. But the Guardian readers are scarcely flocking to replace them. So where does all this leave our country?

Well, it leaves us up a certain creek without a certain implement, as far as I can see...

Would anyone care to Vote For The Devil...?

6 comments:

mutleythedog said...

Did you know Christopher Booker used to be in Skiffle band which specialised in underground gay bars in the 60s? No I thought not - yet you calim to know a lot about politics!!

Elaib said...

I would have thought that skiffling in illegal gay bars took a fair degree of courage at the time. It also showed his liberal inclinations, Now if he would just finish the article with teh words, "Of course that party now exists, UKIP" I would be a little happier.

Anonymous said...

Booker is a raving paranoid nutcase - he believes that Everthing Has Gone To Hell In A Handbasket (rather than the actual scenario of Everything Is Much As It Was, We're Ruled By People Who Are Vaguely Cunts, As Usual, But At Least They've Fucked The Economy A Bit Less Than Most Of The Other Cunts Did).

Nonetheless, he's right that the only people supporting the Tories under Howard were other loonies who thought like him, that Cameron's driven many of them away, and that anyone who believes in environmental or leftie stuff would still rather drown in a toilet than vote for him.

PDF

Jens Winton said...

What I thought interesting, despite talk of skiffling, gays and toilets, was that he was spiked at all. The Mail's commentary on Saturday was neutral in its assessment of Cameron's first year which suggests the so-called Tory press are loathe to report anti-Cameron sentiment. It's not that the Tories are seen as dreadful because they're Tories, it's because people remember a lot of the wrangling and flaws in its debates and policies when they were in power. Unfortunately, a lot of stuff they got right is being mixed up with this and getting chucked out by Cameron in the laps of people like me in UKIP. And seeing that I have a personal problem with him (he refused to apologise when I challenged his `UKIP are racists' comment after explaining I was in an interracial marriage), I will gladly accept such gifts with extra relish!

Anonymous said...

Darfur is an ongoing genocide of epic proportions. Because the killers are Muslim, though, it has not become much of a cause celebre in the UK (ditto West Papua). It is absolutely right that the leader of the opposition should go to Darfur to highlight a neglected trouble spot - which should be a top priority.

It's churlish for this chap Booker to sneer at this - and just odd to compare it to Brown posing in front of artillery pieces.

As for Booker's wider point - the conservatives are playing the game of electoral arithmetic. In a two party system (which we still more or less have in Westminster), the best way to win power is to win over your opponent's supporters without alienating too many of your own.

The system works so that it is "vote-effective" to gain two of your opponent's supporters and alienate three of your own to a no-hoper minor party in the process (it's a net gain of plus one to you).

e.g.
Lab 10 votes
Con 10 votes

2 lab supporters change to tory, 3 tory supporters change to UKIP =

Lab 8 votes
Con 9 votes
UKIP 3 votes

Cons win!

Anonymous said...

The problem with that logic is that we're actually starting from a position of:

Lab 11 votes
Con 9 votes

...so your swing gives us:

Lab 9 votes
Con 8 votes
UKIP 3 votes

I suspect this is a good reflection of the next election result: Con + UKIP will take more votes than Labour, but Labour will win more votes than Con and therefore the election...

John B