Wednesday, January 14, 2009

 

Norman Tebbit Is An Undead Christmas Present For Labour

I rarely watch The Daily Politics except for Wednesdays, after forgetting to watch Prime Minister’s Questions. Today’s boasted all my usual reasons for not watching (unfailingly smug tosser Andrew Neil, Labour apparatchik, Tory sneerer, Tory Press Office’s own Nick Robinson and no Lib Dem), but the lucky Labour Party were handed a late Christmas present. Presented with Norman Tebbit, Labour’s oleaginous Phil Woolas couldn’t believe his luck. On their loathsomely racist immigration policies, you can’t slip a BNP membership card between Mr Woolas and Lord Tebbit, but as a reminder of the wicked ’80s, Lord Tebbit was an open goal.

Bring Back the ’80s! But Only If They’re Ken Clarke

David Cameron’s attempt to present a new Conservatives has so many problems, the poor lamb. He opens his mouth or one of his palatial residences and you think of the Nineteenth Century old rich Tories, of course, but the main problem he’s been desperate to distance himself from is the last century, and the 1980s in particular. He tries not to mention it all, but that decade keeps coming back: his activists scream that he must or he’s an apostate of the Church of Thatchianity; and Labour’s principal, increasingly shrill and desperate message has for years been, ‘We’re shit, and we know we are, but, oooooh! The Tories! Scary!’

At the moment, we’re led to believe Mr Cameron’s wrestling with whether to bring back the Conservative ’80s sole remaining asset, Ken Clarke, to the front bench. In his usual decisive way, the papers have been reporting that he’s been trying to make up his mind over this simple question for the last couple of months, but – though I first remember him as a Thatcherite ultra prompting every ambulance worker in the land to go on strike, and his main activity over the past few years has been to export cancer to kids – to everyone except Mr Cameron it seems a no-brainer. Ken Clarke doesn’t just have a brain (an independent-minded one, at that), but is the only affable-seeming Tory to have come out of the ’80s. Arguably the only affable-seeming Tory in the last couple of decades, too, saving Mr Cameron’s lordly condescension to us all. And, of course, Mr Cameron’s right-hand man Mr Osborne is plainly such a useless lightweight that he really needs someone who looks like he has a clue about the economy. Only two things can possibly have prevented Mr Cameron from announcing Mr Clarke’s triumphant re-entry months ago. One is that, stood next to Mr Osborne as his main lieutenant, Mr Cameron can’t help but look capable and charismatic. Stood next to Mr Clarke… Oh dear. The other reason is, of course, that when I said to everyone except Mr Cameron it seems a no-brainer, I was excluding the swivel-eyed Tory maniacs who want Mr Clarke executed as a traitor (I’d like to say I’m exaggerating some of the views on ConHome for comic effect, but…) for not sharing their knee-jerk Tebbitastic hate of all things beyond the Channel Tunnel (or, indeed, north of Watford).

Tebbit Returns; Labourites Cry With Synthetic Outrage and Genuine Joy

The last thing that Mr Cameron needs, then, is for almost any Tory from the ’80s who isn’t Ken Clarke to rear their philosophically ugly head. So, if he retired from today’s PMQs to see any of Andrew Neil’s self-satisfied nonsense, he can only have groaned, reached for a crucifix, been grateful that very few people watch The Daily Politics and hoped none of it gets pulled out for the news. Because quite literally the worst person to appear for the Conservative case right now, given that Mrs Thatcher is in no fit state to be interviewed, is Norman Tebbit. He has in common with Ken Clarke that he was part of Mrs Thatcher’s Cabinet and one of the driving forces of the Thatcherite revolution, but more importantly that he’s one of the very few Tories that a significant section of the population will still instantly recognise (sagging types of my age and older, but still quite a few). And that’s not good. Where Mr Clarke gives an impression of likeability and empathy with the ‘ordinary bloke’, his image of lazy indulgence now all the more appealing after a decade of Labour’s shrill, bullying Puritanism, Norman Tebbit is forever the Spitting Image bovver boy incarnation of Thatcherite callousness, divisiveness and just plain nastiness.

As I’ve said so many times, but still so many thousand times fewer than Labour have, Labour’s main election pitch has long been reduced to ‘We’re shit, and we know we are, but, oooooh! The Tories! Scary!’ Unfortunately for them, this works less and less, like the Tories attacking Labour for the Winter of Discontent well into the ’90s (which they did, to increasingly risible effect): Mr Cameron isn’t associated with the ’80s; many voters no longer remember them anyway; after more than a decade of Labour, the present government have stored up more than a few of their own negatives, persistently dragging up to be as harsh and nasty as the Tories were and now seeming as rubbish as John Major on top; above all, Mr Cameron has worked as hard as he’s capable to try and ‘detoxify the Tory brand’ (despite that being as ’80s a piece of marketing speak as you’re likely to hear). Labour still have no idea of how to attack Mr Cameron – their ‘he’d do nothing’ charge at last has some bite, but their instinctive reaction remains ‘He’s a toff!’ Well, Tony Blair was also in the country’s top 1% of poshness, so while Labour are exercising some of their residual self-loathing over him, most of the country just don’t care. So imagine their delight whenever Norman Tebbit appears. If only the Tories ditched David Cameron and had Lord Tebbit as Leader, Labour would be in heaven. Whether they won the election or not, there’s no doubt that’s the dream election they yearn to fight.

Labour Are Tebbit’s Disgusting Race-Baiting Heirs

So, though Phil Woolas is both deeply unpleasant and almost always wheedling and ineffective, pitched against Norman Tebbit on a show about the economy, even he couldn’t fail to score. One of my defining early political experiences was the newly formed Liberal Democrats, pretty much at their lowest in 1989, alone in standing up for the rights of Hong Kong British citizens. Mrs Thatcher’s Government wanted to stand by our promises to only the richest, offering citizenship by bribery; but that wasn’t racist enough for Norman Tebbit and his fellow travellers in the Labour Party. Mr Tebbit led a Tory rebellion against Mrs Thatcher to stop anyone with the wrong colour skin entering Britain, and the Labour Party voted with him. Two decades later, Mr Woolas is one of the most shameless exponents of New Tebbit authoritarian bigot-pandering, but you’d never have known how much he’s one of Norman Tebbit’s ideological bedfellows by watching The Daily Politics today.

Both Mr Woolas and Lord Tebbit had messages they wanted to get over today, and they each repeated theirs endlessly. For Mr Woolas, it was that the economic meltdown is a global economic crisis; for Lord Tebbit, it was that, if Labour had run the economy better during the good times, they wouldn’t be in this mess now. Despite messages coming in from viewers scorning Mr Woolas’ crib sheet in pretty much his very parroted words, Mr Woolas won hands down. That’s because Lord Tebbit made two very stupid mistakes. The more minor one was laughing when Mr Woolas’ string was pulled and the line came out again. Suddenly, the Labour muppet came alive. Much as his opponent protested that he was only mocking the repeated excuse, Mr Woolas laid into him with shining eyes and the fervour of being able at last to attack the ‘real’ Tories he’d grown up with. My constituents who are out of work won’t thank you for laughing at them, he snarled, to Norman the Idiot. But of course you’re a monetarist, he went on, so we know you and the Tories have always stood back and not cared when people lose their jobs. And, in a recession, everyone who remotely remembers him nods and thinks, yes, that Labour git’s right, the Tories were horrible, and out of touch, and they never cared about unemployment.

Norman Tebbit’s biggest mistake, though, was in indulging his monstrous ego by turning up at all. He lacks the most rudimentary self-awareness. In the ’80s, his uncompromising working class Tory made good image appealed to almost as many people as it repelled. Today, all that’s gone. No-one remembers his life story, and he’s a Lord – he can’t pretend to be ‘in touch’ any more. All he is is a walking billboard for Labour’s wish-fulfilment campaign against the callous, laughing-at-unemployment Tory Government of a quarter-century ago. In short, he is everything David Cameron wants people to forget. If Norman Tebbit wants the Tories to win the next election, he should climb back into his coffin and refuse the bait of any media appearances. He’s been a blast from the past and a mere embarrassment for most of Mr Cameron’s tenure, but in the current economic climate, he’s pure poison. Every time he pops up, he can only do his party harm.

Of course, I’d love him to be all over the airwaves, too, but at least the Liberal Democrats have something positive to say in the event of the Tories not being self-destructively stupid.


In other news of Labour’s out-of-work-in-progress completion of Mrs Thatcher’s thousand-bomber-raids on British industry, the last television factory in the country has closed. For obvious reasons, I’m rather sad about that.


Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

And in at number 49 on The Golden Ton for 2008-9.

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Comments:
Shush! What are you TELLING THEM FOR? Too damn gentlemanly by half, that's your trouble...
 
No, no, not at all. It is in fact a deeply Machiavellian strategy: if Norman Tebbit were ever to take the advice of a gay Liberal son of an immigrant... ;-)

I am, however, enough of a gentleman that I resisted the temptation to create a new label for this post (and then go back through and tag many others) of 'Reasons to hate the Labour Party'.
 
1, Hazel Blears
2, Phil Wollas
3, Harriet Harperson...

We could be here for some time...
 
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