Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Max Hastings and his crush on 'Dave'

Fellow blogger Hughesey comments on two Guardian articles today. The first is by Polly Toynbee and the second by Max Hastings. Hughesey sees Polly's piece as a 'little counterbalance' to the the one by Hastings and I agree it's a very 'little' one- it shouldn't be the case but there aren't many votes in the arts. As for Max's piece I'm aware of the tribal reaction I have to his own tribal feelings. It's quite obvious that, despite voting for TB in 1997, the former editor of the Daily Telegraph has Conservatism written in his DNA: the way he looks, talks and thinks confirms this and I often find my hackles rising accordingly.

Having said that, he is a fine journalist and his article touches on some interesting points:

a) I too was 'dazzled' by Blair's 'rhetoric, political instinct and almost unassailable authority' during the nineties. I'm aware I've made a (very) reluctant journey from that position and feel not a little pain when people outside and inside the Labour Party chip in with their 'told you sos'.

b) 'The majority of 'haves' will always care more about what happens to them than about compassion for the less fortunate.' JK Galbraith, called this the 'Culture of Contentment', of course. It's cynical maybe, but accurate to say this is how things work. Nevertheless, I've always thought that while the Conservatives grimly follow through on this political reality, rewarding their acquisitive supporters, Labour does genuinely seek to spead the rewards more widely and fairly and has succeeded in doing that since 1997, Iraq notwithstanding. Millions of people are better off as a result of Tony Blair's dazzling political skills and I just wonder if the same will ever be sayable about this plausible Tory toff.

c)He admits-these public schoolboys are prone such crushes I suppose- to be 'starstruck' by Cameron, never thinking that a 'clutch of old Etonians would again prove acceptable to the British electorate.' While knowing full well that I'll soon be getting to hate this guy, (maybe as much as Heath, though never Thatcher-I never hated Major I now realise), I have to agree about the Etonians. It is evident that they've probably found their 'winner' who will eventually bring the fat cats' party back into Downing St, though if he's as close to being a clone of Blair as I think he is, then they have some heavy duty disillusion in store as well.

As a quick aside: you mentioned Heath; what's your opinion on Harold Wilson?
I suppose I was delighted, as with Blair, that he ended a long period of Conservative rule. He was a witty and clever speaker and excellent at flaying the Tories but it became clear by the end of the sixties that he had not achieved a great deal. When asked himself what was his proudest achievement he answered, the Open University. A worthy enough institution but it's scarcely world peace! I was shocked by how quickly he declined once his health went.
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