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April 24, 2012

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CMcM

I'm not sure why Rupert's so intent on the destruction of a government that did it's stupid best to help him.

My theory is that he just hates it when the little people fuck up.

chris y

he's seen the face of death and is desperately trying to avoid damnation?

johnf

Its bunny boiling time.

All those sweet little public school boys who thought being a politician would be rather good fun are now being boiled down and we await to see what creature arises from the pot when it is all finished.

a3t

"All those sweet little public school boys who thought being a politician would be rather good fun"

But does this immunise us against deference for another 50 years? The only sound explanation for Cameron or Boris Johnson is that people thought they were voting for their betters - a sentiment that last mattered in elections in the 1950s. What would it take to stamp out class-based deference again?

JamesP

Surely "Labour's been in for over a decade and we're mostly fucked" and "Boris is such an amusing chap and we read bad things in the papers about Ken" are sufficient explanation? I don't think class particularly explains it.

a3t

Ok, but Boris isn't really that amusing. He's amusing in that braying self-assured way that is just irritating if you have more than brief exposure to it - the house bully, in sweet public school boy terms. And, while I agree that the government being kicked out was the main reason for Cameron's victory, Cameron found it very easily to be taken seriously as a Serious Politician, despite never really having done anything to earn that status. That can only be explained by accent and breeding, no?

ejh

a sentiment that last mattered in elections in the 1950s

In his autobiogrpahy Tariq Ali reckons it was a bigger influence than he had expected in the 1964 election (although the Tories did lose).

johnf

While accents and costumes are far less class-based than in the 50's, surely the sheer vertiginous gap now between the rich and everyone else probably hasn't been the same since the 18th Century.

The 50's, for all the cloth cap/tweed jacket divide, was a time of comparative social equality (especially in income divides) and the political class was drawn from all areas of society, the place of the trade unions almost being written into the British Constitution. Nowadays the trouble is almost all our politicians are from the same wealthy background and share the same neo-liberal view of the world.

As he was an ex-Harrovian, I've never entirely trusted Tariq Ali's view of the class system.

johnf

PS I've always suspected that Cameron's early easy ride had more to do with the success of Downton Abbey than any actual politics.

ajay

As he was an ex-Harrovian, I've never entirely trusted Tariq Ali's view of the class system.

Ah, but he achieved his political success entirely through merit, you see.

jamie

Harrovian, eh? Dashed bad hats and counter-jumpers, like that Bo Guagua fellow.

belle le triste

Revenant deference towards the public-school layer is a red herring if it's a large-scale factor at all: makes more sense to locate it somewhere down the long tail* of deference towards the Murdoch Entity, which (from the mid-90s till last year) was pervasive and far more sinister, surely?

*By which I mean, what the Emperor favours, the courtiers cannot get enough of.

belle le triste

Sinister is a silly word, really: corrosive was what I was actually looking for. *Stumbles off for more strong coffee*

Alex

Ok, but Boris isn't really that amusing. He's amusing in that braying self-assured way that is just irritating if you have more than brief exposure to it

Yes, but for that to matter, you have to clock up the exposure time.

Historically, Boris sold to people who wanted to perform Toryism - importantly, not necessarily people who were very ideologically Tory. The Boris fans in the RHUL Conservative Association weren't the true believers, they were the people for whom it was a style-statement. Basically, if you're in the Tory wing of the Neoliberal Party, you consume Boris in order to be identified as a Tory.

Normal human beings are not regular consumers of product Boris. As a result, it was possible to hit them with a blitz of marketing in the 2008 election run-up, so they got the "oh, isn't he a larf" mike giggler effect BEFORE the itching kicked in.

Presumably you eventually develop tolerance to Boris if you keep at it long enough, and the flaky, sticky itching goes away. But only people who really want to be seen to be Tories without having to go to church and marry a horse and offend any black or gay or vaguely eccentric people they may know actually do that.

Alex

It is amazing how some people manage to physically exude their politics. I have a colleague who is the office Tory. He dresses like a Tory. He walks like a Tory. He speaks like a Tory. He is an enormous Boris fan, and he somehow looks Boris-y. Somehow his very flesh looks Toryish.

Tellingly, his mum is a deputy director of social services in a London borough where that gets you six kiddyfiddlers and a witch-doctor killing every day before breakfast, or to put it another way, as Labour as it's possible to get without actually mining coal.

bert

... deference towards the Murdoch Entity ...

James Murdoch's Mactaggart Lecture transcended Mini-Me puppet show and became a comedy classic only at the point where he launched a scathing defence of advancement by merit.

Boris sold to people who wanted to perform Toryism

Like the performance of Frenchness by Melonballs?

Tariq Ali went to Harrow
Argh. Shane McGowan went to Westminster. Now this.

Alex

well, it does look like JLM's supporters went to the rallies, and then went to the polls and voted Socialist.

Barry Freed

Tariq Ali went to Harrow

Are you sure about that? Because I'd thought he did his primary education in Pakistan (and a bit during the British Raj) and Wikipedia (I know, but bear with me here) knows naught of this either on his page or on the list of old Harrovians.

ajay

The absence of evidence is evidence itself. If he did go to Harrow, it's certainly not the sort of thing he'd want bruited about.

CMcM

it's certainly not the sort of thing he'd want bruited about.

Actually, I think Ali has a certain louche offhandedness about his upper crust connections. After all,he was once memorably described as a 'out of work Maharajah'.

But his father was a radical too, so I'm also having some doubts about the Harrow story.

belle le triste

He has many other faults. but Ali's always been pretty upfront about his class background in his homeland -- his anecdotes and reports from Pakistan invariably rest on his handy access to and immense long-term familiarity with its upper layers of the powerful and the political. I slightly suspect if he went to a school with solid radical/proletarian credentials we'd all know more about it, because why would he hide it? So my cynical and uninformed guess is that he actually went to a down-list British public school, and that's what he doesn't want the world to know. Westminster or Winchester a Marxist can flaunt cheekily: Oundle or Dulwich are much tougher sells.

redpesto

He's amusing in that braying self-assured way that is just irritating if you have more than brief exposure to it

[Alex] Yes, but for that to matter, you have to clock up the exposure time.

Which might explain the whole problem of the women who know Boris and the women who vote for him better than this article does.

chris y

Oundle or Dulwich are much tougher sells.

Hitchens seemed to be quite relaxed about the Leys School.

ajay

my cynical and uninformed guess is that he actually went to a down-list British public school

...Harrow, as I say. North-West London Comp, I believe it's known as.

But, yes, this makes sense. It's not being a true aristo that he'd want to hide; it's being a striver.

skidmarx

I heard him talking a few months ago on the radio about how he'd organised an illegal street protest with classmates while at school in Pakistan (Wkipedia says while at Punjab U, but I think he said before that as well).

CMcM

Yes, skidmarx seems to be right:

In the LRB Ali reminisces about "one of my closest friends at school and university", Salman Taseer the former Governor of Punjab. The FT obit says Taseer - and therefore presumably Ali- "studied at the prestigious St Anthony School in Lahore"

belle le triste

Well, Harrow is one of the Great Nine, but within that, down-list, yes.

Hitchens's entire career was a high-level update of Stephen Potter's Lifemanship, so no surprise he was able to turn the precept I'm suggesting on its head.

belle le triste

(And I *think* St Anthony's in Lahore is the model for Kipling's fictional St Xavier's in Lucknow, where Kim was schooled when he wasn't training as a spy or a chela...)

ajay

St Xavier's was IRL La Martiniere, I think...

belle le triste

La Martiniere is in Lucknow, and non-denominational.
St Anthony's is in Lahore, and Catholic.

St Xavier's was in Lucknow and Catholic (and fictional).

I feel we are wandering off-topic: Tariq Ali's apparent embedment in a post-Kipling construct interests me but possibly no one else.

nick s

What would it take to stamp out class-based deference again?

Detaining Julian Fellowes without charge under the Terrorism Act? Damn it, johnf beat me to it. But he's right about the 1950s, and the thread on Jack Ashley makes its own point about the increasingly constrained breeding grounds for British pols.

Hitchens seemed to be quite relaxed about the Leys School.

Private schools in Oxford and Cambridge always seemed slightly different beasts compared to the usual suspects, at least based on the people I knew who went to them. Not surprising, given that they get a lot of academics' kids.

johnf

Apologies. I've googled Tariq Ali and Harrow and all I came up with was my own comment. I am almost certainly wrong.

Its something I could have sworn I heard in the 60's.

dsquared

A farce isn't really a farce until it's got someone hiding behind a tree

Barry Freed

I feel we are wandering off-topic: Tariq Ali's apparent embedment in a post-Kipling construct interests me but possibly no one else.

I dunno Belle, if you can fit St Trinian's in there you'll certainly have my attention.


But I kid. I do find it interesting.

belle le triste

"In other schools girls are sent out unprepared into a merciless world, but when our girls leave, it is the merciless world that is unprepared"

chris y

Its something I could have sworn I heard in the 60's.

In that case it was probably disinformation put about by Gerry Healy.

guthrie

Regarding Alex's point at 11:17, I think some people's politics can be based on rejection of their parents or an earnest desire to differentiate themselves from them.

How that applies to the Condems I'm not sure. Perhaps in the realm of competency?

Alex

D^2: I used to work around there, and I don't remember a big tree outside the Charlotte. There are plenty further up Charlotte St by the Muslim World League, but that wouldn't make sense in context. Possibly next to the Fitzroy Tavern?

ejh

Dulwich is down-list? Don't tell Ray Keene.

chris y

Don't tell Ray Keene.

Or P.G.Wodehouse. I find it hard to imagine that Cde Psmith would accept that he had attended a down-list school,

belle le triste

Also: Shackleton, Chandler, Eddie George and Nigel Farage.

CMcM

Dulwich College - and I speak as someone who lives less than 2 miles away - is not to be mocked as insufficiently aristocratic or feudal.

Its' 'front company' (a charitee, natch) controls "5,000 houses, flats, and maisonettes on the Dulwich Estate's 1,500 acres" and also various commercial properties, and a tollroad.

dsquared

I used to work around there, and I don't remember a big tree outside the Charlotte

I think the narrative makes sense if Hunt had been (by mistake) dropped off at the UCL Centre rather than the hotel - then the tree is presumably in Gordon Square. But then Martin's explanation is wrong - of course you can get to Charlotte Street from the UCL without going through the drinks reception. So Hunt or his staff must have cocked it up in some other way.

Chris Brooke

So Hunt or his staff must have cocked it up...

That is hard to believe.

Alex

I've just checked the Google Maps overhead imagery - it's surely the tree next to the Fitzroy Tavern. I take it back.

bert

He'd have been better off joining the hacks in the pub. The Fitzroy Tavern is Sam Smith's.
Try and buy a pint anywhere else in W1 and you won't get much change from a fiver.

johnf

Excuse me for being a pedant but I believe the Yorkshire Grey is also a West End pub that serves Sam Smiths.

Not that I ever drink there, of course.

CMcM

p115
"On the basis of the facts and evidence before the Committee, we conclude that, if at all relevant times Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone-hacking, he
turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications. This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International. We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.

Question put, That the paragraphs be read a second time. The Committee divided.
Ayes, 6
Paul Farrelly
Steve Rotheram
Mr Adrian Sanders
Jim Sheridan
Mr Gerry Sutcliffe
Mr Tom Watson
Noes, 4
Dr Thérèse Coffey
Damian Collins
Philip Davies
Louise Mensch

This makes me happy.

Alex

Even the Fiberal (Sanders) got it right. Philip Davies saw an opportunity to be a cunt and took it. As usual.

guthrie

And louise Mensch as well. THe only name I recognise, not being much of a wonk, and they are against it. Mind you I only know of her because she was on have i got news for you.

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