Goodbye to Blair

Tony%20Blair1.jpg


I am really feeling quite chipper about the political extinction of Tony Blair

…a gloomy Scotch mist has descended on Westminster…

I rejoiced – and then Brown began to speak

You know what, I decided about lunchtime yesterday that I couldn’t take any more. The whole thing was turning into a blubfest of nauseating proportions. First we had the Pyongyang-style standing ovation, in which hundreds of hypocritical parliamentarians clapped their hands sore in celebration of Tony Blair – when a great many of them have spent the past 10 years actively trying to winkle him out of Downing Street, a group that includes many on his own side, and above all his successor.

Then poor Margaret Beckett was so overwhelmed that she started to weep, and had to be “comforted” by John Reid, a procedure that is surely enough to make anyone snap out of it. And then we had the cavalcade moving off to the Palace, and what with the hushed tones of the newscasters and the thudding of the television helicopters overhead, the whole thing started to remind me of Diana’s funeral.

“It has been a very emotional day,” said Sky News’s Adam Boulton. “I have seen some incredible things today, things I never thought I would see.” What were these incredible things? “I have seen the Blairs’ exercise bicycle removed from Number 10,” groaned the honest fellow; and across Britain one imagined the Sky audience returning their sodden handkerchiefs to their eyes as they were racked with fresh bouts of sobbing. The exercise bicycle! The Prime Ministerial exercise bicycle! Never more to be used in Downing Street again! Woe, woe and thrice woe!

Even among the cynical brainboxes who sit here in the shadow ministry for higher education, I noticed a certain oohing and aahing, and so you will understand that I was seized with a desire to puncture the mood. Enough, I thought, of this glutinous sentimentality, and prepared to denounce the entire proceedings as a fraud.


Look here, I felt like saying, everyone is carrying on as though Blair’s departure is the finest and noblest act of self-sacrifice since Captain Oates walked out into the blizzard. But he was pushed, for heavens’ sake. He was forcibly ejected through the parliamentary tent-flaps by a Labour Party that was unable to forgive him for the war in Iraq.

This carefully choreographed handover is just the culmination of the putsch that was launched last autumn by some of his trustiest admirers, such as Siôn Simon MP; and quite frankly, I was going to add, I am myself not completely devastated that he is going.

Sky News may be treating it like the funeral of Queen Victoria, but I am really feeling quite chipper about the political extinction of Tony Blair. Yes, I was going to say, there are some of us who are bearing up pretty well, on the whole, and there are some of us who can’t think of a better fate for Tony than to be carted off to the Middle East. I was just about to launch into a polemic on these lines, when something happened on the television that caused the words to die on my lips.

Suddenly my mood changed; suddenly I felt a sense of desolation and morosity that we had lost Tony Blair, and I can tell you the exact moment when I caught the bug and joined the national mourning. It was the moment Gordon Brown opened his mouth, and, with every word he uttered, the mercury of my mood started to sink and the clouds rolled in.

Of course, it was partly a question of style. It was after only a few seconds of Gordonian gurning and grunting that I felt almost suffocated by the earnestness of his utterance. There was such a grimness, such a solemnity, that I instantly missed Tony’s gift for catching the taste of the moment, for the joky self-deprecation, for the combination of passion with a sense of optimism and uplift.

Gordon was all about work: working steadfastly, working purposefully, working resolutely, and he went on so long that I remembered that the poor Queen had been closeted with him for fully 50 minutes while he banged on about how hard he was going to work; and it is in this emphasis – on his personal devotion to government activism, as a cure for the ills of society – that one can see the outlines of his strategy against the Tories.

It is going to be Roundheads versus Cavaliers, Puritans versus freebooters, work against play. It is going to be dour, hard-working, nail-biting Gordon against those he will seek to portray as the merrymaking amateurs. And of course there will be many who will fall for this line, alas.

What they forget, of course, is that Gordon’s idea of work is really government regulation and legislation and intrusion and interference, with all its fiscal consequences. We all believe in welfare, and in the duty of society to the needy; but it really seems never to occur to Gordon that sometimes people can be genuinely better off – especially people running public services – if we give them back power, rather than endlessly depriving them of their own right of initiative.

Sometimes parents and patients will be happier if we give them the hope and the chance of deciding, accomplishing – even buying – something themselves, rather than making them the victims of depression and disappointment when they are let down, by public services, in circumstances beyond their control.

Gordon croaks, “Let the work of change begin”, like some mad professor hunched over a necromantic experiment. What he means is “let the blizzard of legislation continue”, with all the dire consequences that implies for the size of the state and the burden of tax. There will be no change: only an intensification of the rhythm that has criminalised 3,000 courses of human conduct over the past 10 years, a process in which Gordon Brown has been the principal player.

Quite what Quentin Davies is doing with this lot I have no idea, though for the avoidance of doubt he should now do two things. He should dispel any possible suggestion of corruption by announcing that he will in no circumstances accept a peerage, and he should offer to be the Labour candidate for Sedgefield, so the people of Grantham can have a proper Tory. That might cheer me up, though as I write these words the rain is drifting past my window in sheets. Yes, a gloomy Scotch mist has descended on Westminster, and who knows when it will lift.

85 thoughts on “Goodbye to Blair”

  1. Quentin Davis was my MP in Stamford in ’91 when the factory I worked at shut. I wrote to him, and he returned my letter unanswered. I don’t think the Tories have anything to mourn over the departure of this ill mannered unprofessional buffoon.

  2. From the look of the photograph at the top of this I assume you caught the moment when Blair was transported back up to the mothership.

    If he thinks he (with his record and popularity in the Middle East) has any chance of reconciling ‘Paelstinians’ with Israel he must be from another planet if not a completely different space time continuum.

  3. Good riddance to Bliar.

    Quentin Davis’s performance on Newsnight was abysmal and Alan Johnson was it? was very good, but is Davies really voicing general discontent with Cameron? Forgive me Boris but that’s the Labour PR home run and my answer to this?

    Boris Johnson for PM!

  4. I’m so sorry it was Alan Duncan on Newsnight, not Alan Johnson, Johnson is the new Health Secretary whereas Duncan is the Shadow Secretary of State for Trade & Industry… and prettier.

    You see I had it in my mind that Alan was a colleague and with Quentin Davies it’s easy to get confused isn’t it??

  5. A masterpiece, Boris.

    With Broon presiding over the New Puritan junta – Flint, Hewitt, Harman, Miliband et al – I confidently predict the following:

    1. Smoking banned in private cars

    2. Ditto tower blocks and terraced buildings

    3. Pregnant women prosecuted for having a sip of wine

    4. Legislation allowing employers to sack any member of staff with a vice more indulgent than taking sugar in their tea

    5. A raft of new taxes on anything that moves, in the name of saving the planet

    6. A tax and licensing system on anything that floats in the sea

    7. A rash of new signs in private premises yelling “It is against the law to…”, it also being illegal not to display them

    8. Ditto loudpeakers in public places bawling “It is against the law to…” at bewildered bystanders.

    And that’s just for starters.

    I am counting the days to the next general election when a new and enlightened government takes over, preferably with you, Boris, at the top.

  6. Why all the talk of change? Is this an admission that New Labour was wrong after all? Or is Brown trying to disassociate himself from the spinning Blair years with a bit of… spin?

    I don’t think there will be much change from the Blair “era”. If only there was… http://www.pickinglosers.co.uk/

  7. My only consolation in all this is to consider how much Cherie Blair must be LOATHING the thought of Gordon!

    As consolations go, I have to say it’s considerable …

    (Thank you for amusing me personally and endlessly in so many different directions and from so many places, by the way. I never thought to find you on a blog as well – what bliss you bring!)

  8. Sir, look on the bright side. Blair has now got himself into a tarpit of a job which is completely impossible to succeed at, simply because Palestine isn’t a true state but rather a Cold War-style mini-war.

    He’ll never succeed at anything, he hasn’t got his snout in the EU trough, and there’s more than a sporting chance that some enterprising terrorist will manage to drop some hot lead on him somehow.

    All in all, as close to a win-win situation as we’re likely to find this side of the next election. Chin up and concentrate on heckling Broon about his stealth taxation…

  9. Does anyone remember a Star Trek (proper series) episode, called (I think) “Mudd’s Planet” or similar?

    Anyway, to cut a long story short the villainous, if affable, Harry Mudd, entrepreneur/freebooter, has been captured by a bunch of androids who, basically, want a bit of company and to cook someone’s supper of an evening. To get out of captivity Mudd decides to offer up the crew of the Enterprise as replacements for himself so he can carry on wandering around the universe conning people. (Am I sure his name wasn’t Blair you ask no doubt)

    So Old Cap’n Kerk et al are trapped with these robots and have to find a way to get out. The inestimable Mr Spock reckons they can throw the android’s central computer into tilt by asking it, via the robots, difficult questions until it blows up. (Christ! This is sounding more like the Labour Party all the time; I wonder if it wasn’t an allegory)

    The one that finally did for the computer was when Mr. Spock told one of the androids: “Jim Kirk always tells lies” and then James T says to the same android “I’m lying to you!”

    At which point the central ‘brain’ obligingly crashes (a Windows installation presumably) and our heroes go home for tea.

    Now what brought me, somewhat circuitously, to this point are the number of articles I’ve read this morning claiming that Labour is spinning that the Labour Party will no longer spin.

    And, as my brain’s just exploded, I’m wondering if I’m an android.

  10. Brilliant, Boris. You’ve captured my mood of yesterday perfectly.

    However, by late yesterday afternoon I found myself recovering my normal defiance.

    And here, behind me on my office wall, is the result of that:

    Two emblems of St George – I always promised myself I’d put up bunting when Blair was finally booted out – with, below them, two long pink balloons, nicely formed into the bowman’s salute.

    GOOD RIDDANCE BLAIR!,

    the legend states and, below that,

    ONE DOWN, ONE TO GO!

  11. I sympathise with Boris. I have been waiting to see the back of the insufferable Blair for years, and I’m glad he’s gone. It’s a relief to know that he won’t appear on TV any more, as he seems to have been more or less every day for the past 6 months in his extended farewell tour.

    But my heart sank too as I listened to Brown outside Number 10. It wasn’t just all that stuff about work, but the grim, pitiless mask of his face. PaulD’s list of new laws seems entirely plausible. People will be made to suffer, I suspect.

    And while I like the idea of Roundheads v. Cavaliers – where are the Cavaliers?

  12. Hate to have to point this out, but the Roundheads won.

    And like they say, those that refuse to learn from history are compelled to repeat it.

    EdW … I’m not too sure about James T, but I reckon we’ll get a lot of the moral kirk from McBroon.

  13. Agent Provocateur said:

    “Hate to have to point this out, but the Roundheads won.

    And like they say, those that refuse to learn from history are compelled to repeat it.”

    The Roundheads (Puritans) did win, but their tenure was fairly shortlived and after a decade or so of utter misery with even dancing around the maypole banned, Charles II was ushered in with all church bells ringing and great celebration by a relieved populace. The New Labour, New Puritan miserablists are enjoying their hour in the shade (the sun, like everything enjoyable, supposedly causes cancer) but who will be our saviour this time around, King Boris I?

  14. Well said, Turkey Twizzler.

    You might also have added that evil Cromwell died a lonely, miserable and tormented old man after his rein of terror. I bet he looked as shrivelled and diminished as Blair does now.

    The severe psychotic problems which had haunted Cromwell throughout his life – and probably the huge moral burden of his evil deeds – came home to roost big time towards Cromwell’s end.

    I wouldn’t have wanted to be in Cromwell’s shoes then, or Blair’s now – or Brown’s in years to come.

  15. Oh Boris, I found that truly disappointing.
    Although if we are to pursue the Roundhead/Cavalier theme, can I remind you that early on the leader of the Cavaliers was executed. If you see this as Thatcher, can I have first go with the axe please?

  16. Vicus Scurra

    Can I remind you that Cromwell shot himself in the bum while showing off on the golden coach he’d been presented with by an aristo chum. This self proclaimed, austere, ‘Godly’ and ordinary sort of bloke so loved money and life’s luxuries. Remind you of anyone?

  17. Cromwell represented the middle class of his day, he was a country squire, a landowner. He purged the army of the real revolutionaries, the Levellers, because they were a threat to that class. The public regard for cavaliers is pure romanticism brought about by second-rate literature (and perhaps dominant class and Catholic propaganda) and has little, or nothing, to do with reality, other than the English obsession with touching their forelocks.

    I’ve never been able to comprehend the shock/horror expressed over ‘reigns of terror’ when no account is taken of the appalling conditions that the majority were subjected to, especially when most of those making such expressions are descended from those who were likely to starve and who carried out said retribution. It’s not that I approve of such actions, I most certainly don’t, but I do tend to regard them as nemesis delivered on a class that deserved no better.

    Mind you, ever since seeing those statues of Saddam fall I’ve had my eye on that one of Cromwell outside parliament.

    Of course the Puritans didn’t like the maypole, it was a pagan phallic symbol depicting a sexual fertility rite, not the quaint rural image it represents today. Closing the theatres down was going too far, but that’s religious zealots for you.

  18. Eight out of ten puritans eat onions. [Instead of apples.]

    Mr Brown, went to town and strutted like a puffin.

    he said to his electorate, “You ain’t seen f**kin’ nuffin”
    (yet)

  19. As a pupil at a standard co-ed grammar school, and a Scot at Edinburgh University, where he would have been shunned by the large public-school home minority, Gordon Brown will have mixed with people from a much wider range of backgrounds than David Cameron (or Boris). Cameron unfortunately spent these crucial years mixing with people from a similarly privileged background; he needs to address this key difference more openly.

  20. AP said:

    Cromwell represented the middle class of his day, he was a country squire, a landowner.

    Why is it that those who defend Cromwell inevitably tend to ignore his well documented insanity? One of the various, warring, personalities that comprised the man believed Cromwell to be personally chosen by God.

    Yet Cromwell had a psychotic episode virtually every night in which he became terrified of his maker and summoned his doctor to save him from dying.

    If Cromwell initially appeared to represent the middle class, just like Blair, he soon came to represent only himself.

  21. Excellent piece, Boris; thank you. My father pointed it out to me with a chuckle and I have emailed it to some friends (mainly American friends on this occasion) for whom Blair was something of a God-like figure. It’s all marketing, I’ve told them, but they won’t have it. ANR, Henley on Thames

  22. Llinos – Boris proves that having a privilaged background doesn’t preclude you from being a top bloke. Look elsewhere and it can be seen that a public school education does not preclude you from being a git.

    There’s good and bad in every walk of life, you are what you are, the difference being that a natural crook from a less fortunate background would end up in prison, from a privilaged background would end up an investment banker. Perhaps experience rather than background (which none of us can change) would be beneficial.

  23. AP also said:

    I’ve never been able to comprehend the shock/horror expressed over ‘reigns of terror’ when no account is taken of the appalling conditions that the majority were subjected to, especially when most of those making such expressions are descended from those who were likely to starve and who carried out said retribution.

    Cromwell was a mass murderer of the majority, who crushed all opposition, imagined or otherwise, and the poverty stricken majority in the most cruel and insane manner. He derived huge personal pleasure from watching his genocide of those he controlled.

    The Catholic propaganda you refer may perhaps be understandable given that, like that other mad dictator Hitler, Cromwell made it one of his missions in life to exterminate Catholics, most of them poor. One of his ‘glorious’ deeds was to shut a thousand or two Catholics up in a church and sit giggling maniacally as he had them all burned alive.

    The majority suffered at least as badly and perhaps worse under Cromwell’s reign of terror than they had done under the Ancien Regime and they both feared and detested Cromwell.

  24. Catholics and Protestants throughout Europe treated each other in an equally atrocious manner, and much in the same way as they both treated the so-called witches. ‘Foxe’s Book of Martyrs’ details Catholic atrocities against Protestants.

    I’m no supporter of Cromwell, but the ‘Ancien Regime’ continued for generation after generation; in England under Cromwell, and in the French and Russian revolutions the terror, though horrendous, was relatively short lived by comparison, though the on-going oppression of Stalinism was something else again. If Cromwell was insane he can’t be held criminally responsible, the elite don’t have the benefit of that excuse, not that I’d treat insanity as an excuse at that level. So rape, torture and starvation were preferable to Cromwell for the majority? Then how come he achieved his position with popular support? In pre-revolutionary Russia Cossacks used to chase and spear serfs for ‘sport’.

  25. I am sad beyond words…not only at the appointment of Brown, but by what our politicians are, how they behave and what a game they play at the people’s expense.

    Power, position, manipulation, favoritism, image creation, scent marking their time in power with legislation for the sake of the appearance of power and action…and where do we find evidence of their true role? Where is the true concern for the welfare of the people above all else? Where is the logic and wisdom? I see no evidence of government that cares outside of itself. Shame on the politicians, shame.

    Namaste,
    Tina Louise
    http://www.armsagainstwar.info

  26. Jaq said “Perhaps experience rather than background (which none of us can change) would be beneficial.”

    None of us can change our background, but from a fairly early age we are free to make decisions which *create* our background. Orwell was an etonan who demonstratively turned against the privilege he had been born into and had thrust upon him by his parents. He rebelled: Liberty take note.

    David Cameron, (and Boris) stuck with their wealthy public-school chums long after they needed to: the Bullingdon, Darius Guppy et al.

  27. PS: Liberty, I’ve just been glancing through a 1718 edition of ‘Norfolk’ with the Robert Morden map. It refers to the Civil War as ‘our recent troubles’, it lists those who suffered, but it also lists those who suffered similar fates for a previous 200 years. Of course, it only lists clergy and landowners, peasants weren’t considered worthy of mention.

  28. < ‘Gordon croaks, “Let the work of change begin”, like some mad professor hunched over a necromantic experiment … Yes, a gloomy Scotch mist has descended on Westminster, and who knows when it will lift.’<

    Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr….

    As an open-minded Agnostic I can’t help but wonder if God is trying to tell us something about Gordon Brown right now. When you can’t get a game of cricket all ‘summer’ and our cities are under flood water, Cameron’s ridiculed ‘Let sunshine rule the day’ speech becomes more and more a ray of hope. Only the political apathy of the public will mask the bleakness of the Brown years.

    As for Tony Blair’s Middle East job, I wish him the best of luck. I don’t agree with his politics, but he has been one of our greatest Prime Ministers. He made a rabble of hard leftists, feminists and class warriors electable and has done British democracy a huge service. Clause 4 has been consigned to the politcal dustbin where it belongs. Britain still sits proudly on the world stage, we still have good relation swith our allies in NATO and the EU.

    One thing Gordon Brown has done for us is to help us keep the Pound. I was talking to a Czech girl on the phone the other day at work who told me that ‘Britain is a Kingdom, you alway want to be different, that is why you do not join the Euro’. I explained to her (much to the dismay of my call-coach) that the Pound, like the Norweigan Krona, was underpinned by oil exports, not German manufacturing and that the UK, like Spain and Ireland, but unlike Germany and France was a home-owning culture. The UK and Norway do not need German interest rates, and it is pragmatic to stay out of the Euro.

    Gordon Brown is a pragmatist, Blair is a believer who wanted to join the Euro, he believes in himself and believes that sorting out the Israel/Palestine problem is possible if he puts his mind to it. Balir believed that the long term benefits of protecting the UK against economic downturns and currency speculators outweighed the disadvantages, ie. the economic imbalances, that joining the Euro would create. Blair is a ‘can do’ kinda guy. I truly wish him the best of luck in his new job.

    Equally I truly want to see the back of pragmastist, socialist, redistributionalist, centralist and meddler Brown as soon as possible.

  29. Orwell was an etonan who demonstratively turned against the privilege he had been born into and had thrust upon him by his parents.

    Llinos, your twitterings are much the same as those of another person who keeps popping up here under a different pseudonym, if indeed it is another person.

    If you bothered to clear your haze of class prejudice and actually read Boris’s articles, you would see that he is one of the few current MPs with views resembling those of George Orwell, whom you obviously admire. Work that one out.

  30. I read a book about Cromwell, many years ago that quoted him extensively. Among other things, it said that Cromwell quite frequently would speak long semtences that he would leave uncompleted.

    One thing stuck in memory: towards the end of the civil war, Cromwell at one point turned to his comapanions and began: “Do you not think, gentlemen, that we are not ushering in those things which God hath promised…”

    The time of times? The second coming? The end of the world?

    Such obsessions with looming end times seem to have particularly strong in that time. Isaac Newton, a younger contemporary of Cromwell’s, born around the beginning of the civil war, was characteristically to calculate that the world would end sometime around 1850.

    I sometimes hope that it did, and that we have Newton’s authority for it. Somehow predictions that give dates that lie in the remote past are rather reassuring. Imagine if Newton had instead marked the date as 1 July 2007?

  31. “Imagine if Newton had instead marked the date as 1 July 2007?”

    No-one would be in the least bit surprised.

    By the way, I understand ‘Freedom2Choose’ have just lodged papers to challenge the smoking ban.

    Not before time!

  32. < ‘David Cameron, (and Boris) stuck with their wealthy public-school chums long after they needed to’ (Llinos)<

    I’m going to the pub tonight with some of my old school-chums. What’s wrong with that exactly?

  33. As long as none of your school pals are pretend jewel thief frauds, nothing at all.

  34. Steven L: “I’m going to the pub tonight with some of my old school-chums. What’s wrong with that exactly?”

    It depends what school you went to. Sorry if that sounds unfair.

  35. < ‘It depends what school you went to. Sorry if that sounds unfair.’ (hotsy)<

    Mind your own business! I went to a state school if that helps you to get your head around whether me having a few beers and whiskies with my old mates is ‘fair’ or not. Throughout my 27 years on Earth I’ve met all manner of different people from different backgrounds. I actually used to play cricket with an Etonian lad, who would stop around after the match to drink lager and chat with everyone else just like you’d expect any normal person to do. OK, he had a good job in an investment bank and a nice flat in a Bloomsbury mansion block but he was no less human and no less bad at at cricket than the rest of us.

  36. Paul D: “If you bothered to clear your haze of class prejudice and actually read Boris’s articles, you would see that he is one of the few current MPs with views resembling those of George Orwell…”

    What has Boris ever done to find out how the other half live? Actions speak louder than words.

    Boris resembles Orwell like a pair of baggy cords resembles leather hot pants. One of them is self-serving and full of 2nd hand opinions, the other was not.

  37. I’m a bit concerned about this Boris as Orwell thingy.

    If, God forbid, the Spanish Civil War broke out again, would Boris volunteer and fight with a sort of communist brigade as Orwell did, or would he side with the anarchists as Orwell was starting to if we go by what he said in ‘Homage to Catalonia’?

    I think the people of Henley should be told.

  38. Llinos, Hotsy, Captain Badger (or am I addressing the same person?), is this all that matters to you? AP, does your judgement of a man really hang on guessing whether he might have fought “with a sort of communist brigade” in a foreign civil war 70 years ago? Come to that, would you do the same?

    Admittedly I have elsewhere questioned the job suitability of people like David Miliband and Caroline Flint on the basis of their past. But that is after discovering they have spent their entire lives in academia or government. It is not an attack on their social background or formative years – it does, however, have a bearing on their whole approach to politics and power and goes a long way to explaining their bossy nature and textbook “solutions”. I needed an explanation for their behaviour; I did not dredge up something about their past and then attribute real or imagined character flaws to it.

    This is no place for mindless sniping – least of all at the host.

  39. PaulD, I wasn’t making a judgement, the comment was meant as something of a joke, hence the ‘I think the people of Henley should be told’. I simply found the comparison to Orwell somewhat absurd and irrelevant, and worthy only of derision.

    Were I younger and healthier, and were we at the time of the Spanish Civil War, I might well have gone to fight for the Republican cause. I was once told by a lady who lost her fiancée there, and who knew most of the London contingent that went to join the International Brigades, that I was exactly like them, and that she hadn’t met anyone who reminded her so much of them for years and years. I took it as a great compliment. I’d have been with the anarchists, not the communists.

    I did do 10 years on the road around the world, becoming a member of a Bedouin tribe, getting stoned with armed Pakistani Maoists, and hanging out with the Calcutta Triad, amongst other more reputable activities and company.

    But just for the record, it was disgust at the way the British Army brutalised people in S.E.Asia that converted Orwell to a radical position. He was a junior officer.

  40. Orwell lived as a hungry vagrant for months on end and volunteered for a war. Johnson speaks up in favour of hunting for fun and hangs around with old Eton chums.

    There’s no sensible comparison.

    And no, I’m not the same person as Captain Badger.

  41. AP said:

    Then how come he [Cromwell] achieved his position with popular support?

    He didn’t. Cromwell had less popular support than nulab had at the last election. Like nulab in 2005, he was elected courtesy of a distorted electoral system. .

    Old Noll was largely elected to represent Cambridge by disgruntled small landowners and grumbling minor aristos – his own class. He was of minor aristocratic origins with inherited money and even attempted to become one of the nascent capitalists of his day, but ended up almost bankrupting himself.

    I believe that many of the leaders of his army were of the same class as Cromwell though would need to check that. His ordinary soldiers were largely motivated by the same compulsions which motivated men to enter the army for centuries – food and employment – not love of Cromwell. God knows what sort of creatures they became after they’d slaughtered thousands of innocents for their meagre pay.

    The 17th century’s, overwhelmingly agricultural, labouring class, who comprised the vast majority of the population, did not have the vote. They detested Cromwell as much as they disliked land owners in general.

    Cromwell was oh so nulab. When he banned the common people’s age old May festivals, maypole dancing and the drunken silliness and frivolity of their Fairs (also the drunken Harvest Home celebrations too, I believe) he destroyed the one form of real pleasure that ordinary people had. And they hated his guts for that.

  42. AP said:

    In pre-revolutionary Russia Cossacks used to chase and spear serfs for ‘sport’.

    I agree with the general point you’re making. These were appallingly cruel times for the poorest people – and generations of my ancestors were among them.

    However, Cromwell – necessary as his revolution cum Civil War may have been to clear the way for the industrial revolution – was, if not the most, certainly one of the most, evil Englishman of his generation. I do not believe that Cromwell’s insanity either explained or excused his evil conduct, the man was simply rotten to the core.

    He had countless thousands of innocent men, women and children slaughtered in the cruellest manner – 40% of the Irish alone – and sat on his horse watching and giggling maniacally as they were killed.

  43. < ‘Johnson speaks up in favour of hunting for fun and hangs around with old Eton chums.’ (Llinos)<

    I’m glad he speaks up in favour of the freedom to hunt wild animals. I’m a fisherman, so I’m sure he’d speak up in favour of my freedom to hunt wild fish for fun.

    Likewise I speak up for his freedom to associate with whoever he wants to.

  44. “The whole thing was turning into a blubfest of nauseating proportions. First we had the Pyongyang-style standing ovation, in which hundreds of hypocritical parliamentarians clapped their hands sore in celebration of Tony Blair”

    If that’s the case, you must be really confused over your feelings for Cameron. Of them all, he was by far the most sycophantic towards the out going lame duck, and by and far his comments would have made the hardest of Tories puke, though the softies are fine, but then they only care when noticed.

  45. StevenL “Likewise I speak up for his [Boris’s] freedom to associate with whoever he wants to.”

    Of course I would also speak up for this freedom. And I don’t know who his friends are now. However by joining an Etonian club at university, he (and Cameron) showed a reluctance to mix with those from a less privileged background that sets alarm bells ringing, for me at least.

  46. Llinos said:

    by joining an Etonian club at university, he (and Cameron) showed a reluctance to mix with those from a less privileged background that sets alarm bells ringing, for me at least.

    Llinos, which of our current politicians meets your test of mixing with those from a less priviledged background and therefore does not set your alarm bells ringing?

    I have to tell you that I’m struggling to think of one candidate – not least because all of our politicians are priviledged.

  47. I should add that I did think of two possible candidates among our politicians, but on considering the matter again I had to drop from my list.

  48. Liberty – just ignore him. Llinos and his aliases have nothing to offer here. The chip on his shoulder must be a terrible burden for him.

  49. Liberty, I agree with you all the way with regard to our politicians. The days when Labour politicians came from within the working class are gone. And let’s not bang heads over Cromwell, neither of us like him, it’s just that our priorities for disliking him vary slightly; I tend to start with his purging the Levellers from the army (they were the officers he had hanged … good band too!), but I have no disagreement with your hatred for the massacres he perpetrated.

    PaulD … I’m a bit worried about this bloke who went to Eton and couldn’t play cricket very well. Have his parents considered legal action for the reimbursement of fees?

    StevenL … just what are you doing to those poor, usually tranquil fish to drive them so wild?

  50. ‘One thing we know about creativity is that it typically occurs when people who have mastered two or more quite different fields use the framework in one to think afresh about the other’ said Tucker, who heads the National Center on Education and the Economy in the US (Nature, May 2007).

  51. AP said:

    Liberty, I agree with you all the way with regard to our politicians. The days when Labour politicians came from within the working class are gone.

    Then why do continue with your unfair and hypocrtical attacks on Boris on the basis of his backround and friends, yet utter not one word of criticism of our corrupt nulab politicians, their backgrounds or their friends, AP?

    Boris has done nothing to provoke this. You’re behaving like an obsessive troll and I think you owe Boris an apology.

  52. < ‘However by joining an Etonian club at university, he (and Cameron) showed a reluctance to mix with those from a less privileged background…’ (Llanos)<

    How do you know who Boris and David Cameron mixed with at university? Were you there?

  53. Uuummm … Liberty, I don’t think I have attacked Boris and his friends. I did comment that yobbish behaviour was yobbish behaviour whatever class perpetrated it, but I don’t hold youthful errors of judgement against anyone. I did criticise Klinker for such an attack and referred to some lads I knew from Kings. I did think the comparison to Orwell absurd and said so, but Boris most certainly didn’t say that of himself. Other than that, my only sin is to crack a couple of jokes and, given that Boris can dish it out, I imagine he can take it too … after all, The Sun and The Mirror aren’t really ‘Tass’ and ‘Pravda’, they’re much worse than that. If I were not disgusted with NuLab corruption and totalitarianism do you honestly think that an idealist Kropotkinite anarchist would be in dialogue with Tories at all? Below is an email I sent Mel that to some extent explains my political outlook, I don’t think she’ll mind me including it. I think you’re using Boris as a smoke screen for your own dislike at being contradicted, at least as far as I’m concerned … I’ve said nothing in support of those that have attacked, as far as the Bulligdon Club was concerned I think you’ll find that my only objection was not being invited along.

    Hi Mel … I’ve come across this reference on an old floppy and thought it might interest you, it sort of ties in with something I said on the blog about Kropotkin maintaining that as humans we had that competitiveness within us, but also that ‘mutual aid’ altruism and that society needs to integrate these (not that I expect it to happen, political dichotomy seems to be too ingrained for that).

    From ‘Sociocultural Perspectives on Human Learning: An Introduction to Educational Philosophy’, J. F. Hansen.

    Anthropologists have taken a great deal of interest in patterns of primate learning. By observing and manipulating primate tribes in natural habitat some interesting observations have been achieved. New food sources are first exploited by young females, these are the first to adopt new patterns of behaviour and from them the new pattern spreads slowly through the group. Old males never change their behaviour patterns, they represent a ‘conservative’ element in the group, maintaining traditional knowledge that may prove essential to tribe survival should the newly adopted patterns prove short lived due to specific conditions. Young males take the ‘risks’, they explore possibilities in such situations as ravine crossing, their knowledge base is insufficient to be essential to the group and hence they are the ‘risk takers’. It has been posited that a direct analogy can be drawn to the ‘radical’ and ‘conservative’ tendencies in human society.

    You can see from the above why I annoy both left and right … they’re all hidebound and outdated! But if I’m correct, human society really needs to move beyond the old political parameters, we need both conservative and radical combined.

    Regards,

    PS: Liberty … I don’t use any other alias and Mel knows who I am. I think it’s perhaps you that owes me that apology, but please don’t bother.

  54. I say.. Boris for leader of the Conservative Party please. I am sorry but I have always voted conservative.. but Gordon is more likey to get my vote now that David cameron appears to be some place left of him.

  55. The article completely reflects on the mood of my own. Thank you for expressing it so clearly. Altough I don’t yet have a political denomination as I am new to the country, Boris’s words seem to convey the rational as well as emotional state of the society at the moment.

    I’d like to come back to the questions of proposed legislation on fingerprinting of all children in near future and MPs exemption from anti-secrecy laws. If that’s what Gordon calls ‘work’ then I wish I could vote for Tories.

  56. Did any other commentator notice that the image machinists and Alexander technicians in the Brown field tent have been busy working on the PM’s appalling breathing habits? While his pre-prime ministerial oration involved whooping in great gasps of air through his mouth between sentences, the nascent PM’s initial speech in Downing Street allowed us to witness a struggling mouth trying to cope with redundancy in favour of the nose as primary breath-draughtsman. Watch his mouth next time and you’ll see what I mean.

  57. Hey Gordon Brown you always look down with that frown, could it be that the gown makes you look like a clown ?

  58. < ‘Altough I don’t yet have a political denomination as I am new to the country’ (Dana Johnson)<

    Labour is so yesterday, unless you hang around with Officers from the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights, or some inner-city loony-left rotten-borough council you’re likely to get abuse for being a Labour supporter. Being a Lib Dem is OK if you like to come across as a bit of an eccentric or if you wear sandals and have lots of nostril hair. Otherwise I’d become a Tory if I were you.

  59. AP said:

    Uuummm … Liberty, I don’t think I have attacked Boris and his friends… I don’t use any other alias… I think perhaps you that owes me that apology, but please don’t bother.

    In that case you are due an apology AP and I do apologise…I thought you were klinker.

  60. Thank you Steven L. It seems to me that I’m inclined to go Tory. Although I always considered myself somewhat left in other circumstances when I was on other side of the pond or deep in Eurasia.

  61. …his pre-prime ministerial oration involved whooping in great gasps of air through his mouth between sentences… (Oliver Bennett)

    I read only a couple of days ago that Blair always breathed through his mouth too.

    Why can’t they use their noses? Are all politicians thus afflicted?

    I think we should be told.

  62. I’m a pinko, but even I believe we are right to ignore the comments of those who cannot spell “privileged.”

    I have no opinion on Cromwell other than I’m glad that he is dead.

  63. Can’t believe Brown is talking of a new British constitution like it’s a great achievement after NuLab has thrown out or corrupted the basic legal and moral foundation this country has rested on for centuries. Bizarre.

    It’s a bit like throwing out most of the rules of cricket and then saying ‘I know, why don’t we have a scoreboard and you get a point every time you run to the other sticks and back eh?’. It’s not a fresh approach it’s part of the same stupid plot.

    Glad Alan Johnston is free.

  64. So we all agree, including Boris and presumably most of his cohorts in the Tory party, that getting rid of Blair is a Jolly Good Thing. Good riddance, in two words.

    So why, might one ask, did the Tories stand to applaud Blair as he left, and offer the usual presumably totally false platitudes on his last days in office?

    This sort of hypcrisy from MPs irks the rest of us.

  65. “I’m a pinko, but even I believe we are right to ignore the comments of those who cannot spell “privileged.” ”

    I’m not absolutely sure burying our heads in the sand regarding the poor standards of literacy achieved in our schools is a wise policy.

    And FYI PaulD, I’m neither Linos nor Hotsy, no matter how vigourously I rub.

  66. Yes Boris everyone is saying that you are going to be the candidate for Mayor.

    TELL US

    You would be brilliant and the campaign could hurt Brown.

  67. ‘This msg is confidential’

    Writing from İstanbul

    İ would like to thank you for yur time and patience to hear my ordeals. However, İ have found no way out of my difficult situation. Although with much higher spirit that İ first wrote to you on March 14 when İ flee from Tehran to İstanbul, but there has been no improvement in my situation living an un-documented life, and no clear future. Following my appointed interview at the UNHCR on Jun 12, an outstanding Refugee file Ref. 07C00807, the interviewee, Ms. Sultan, contact Nr. +90 312 409 7007 – pictured even more obscure process about when İ will have any proper identity paper, pointing out that she will first contact the Home Office where my previous claim of Asylum was submited, but did not clarify where my file will be heading. They have refused any financial assistance.

    İ urge you as a former resident of Oxford, with strong sense of belonging – although Oxford is where İ have lost all my papers – to assist me in my case. İ have been unable to find myself any income generating job, despite a skilled and experienced worker, because of lack of original educational certificate, in addition to cultural and legal issues that revolves around the life of a woman living alone without her family or friends, and importance of language barrier.

    Unfortunatly my sister, Dr. Azad, a physician living in Canada is also not responding to me for further support and İ have no idea what will become of me!!!

    İ certainly need proper mode of communication as to be discreet about my situation, although Turkish people have been kind and compassionate with me !

    İ am afraid that my situation is absolutely unbearable anymore.

  68. Do it Boris! It’s time Livingstone was shown the door and you can slam it on him. He won once because everyone felt sorry for him being bullied by Blair and once by default because of the poor standard of the opposing candidates. You can change that. You’re well known, well liked and highly respected by anyone who’s taken the time to read your work. Please don’t condemn us to another four years of him increasing our taxes and inviting fanatics to the Town Hall. Cheers!

  69. MAYOR

    Iain dale was quickly on this and the high regard Boris is held in has been evident . What I notice is that he seems to be liked by One Nation wets rabid Libertarians and Cornerstoners a-like . Somehow Boris captures the essence of the Conservative mind and makes the differences seem only a matter of emphasis.
    It would be a great thing for him to have a go win or lose . I can see its difficult personally and I can also see why David Cameron might be wary of the Etonian character his shadow cabinet might have .Somehow they must use his talents though.

    What a boost for the Party even if he put on a good show

  70. Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner,
    That I love London so.
    Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner
    That I think of her wherever I go.

    I get a funny feeling inside of me
    Just walking up and down.
    Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner
    That I love London Town.

    Maybe its because we are Londoners,
    That we think of her where ever we go,
    But it’s not just because he’s our mayor, you know,
    That we love Boris so!

    I’ve said elsewhere that you shouldn’t stand because you’re heart and soul an Member of Parliament, not a Mayor, Boris. But I’ve changed my mind, you’re big enough to do both – go for it!

  71. Boris for Mayor huh? I might as well have my tuppence-worth.

    Firstly I think Boris is the one Tory that is respected, liked and high profile enough, and disposable in terms of the Shadow Cabinet, that could win a mayoral election against Livingstone. Secondly I think if Boris was Mayor of London all those people that like him, but dismiss him as a silly baffoon, would come to see his talent as a serious politican and soon cries of ‘Boris for PM’ would reverbarate around the capital. Thirdly I think Boris has the charisma and personality to tackle the serious social issues that blight London, not through eye catching initiatives and tax hikes, but by being a real man and a role model for London’s urban youth.

    Life is full of these tricky career decisions Boris, your good fortune and hard work mean you have many more options available to you than most of us do, but deciding whether to throw your hat in the ring or not here must be one hell of a poser for you. You have a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring your politics to the masses and fight an election that offers people real choice. Two individualistic political heavyweights, only one winner, at last a real election for the politically apathetic, disenfranchised masses to sink their teeth into.

    Follow your heart Boris, but I think you’d do politics a massive service if you ran. Yes, you might lose, but I’m sure you’d bounce back from it. On the other hand, if you don’t run, you might just regret it one day. Personally I think you’d win if you put your all into it.

  72. I went to the City once and thought I’d have a spree.
    Boris the Mayor, he was there, that’s who I went to see.
    He dashed up in a canter with a carriage and a pair,
    I shouted “Holler boys” and threw my hat up in the air.
    Just then the Mayor began to smile,
    Saw my face and shouted “Lumme what a dial!”
    Started a-Lord Mayoring and I though that I should die
    When pointing to my watch and chain he hollered to me “Hi!”

    Any old iron any old iron any any old, old iron?
    You look neat – talk about a treat,
    You look dapper from your napper to your feet.
    Dressed in style, brand new tile,
    And your father’s old green tie on,
    But I wouldn’t give you tuppence for your old watch chain,
    Old iron, old iron?”

    I can see it now…pearly king’s waistcoat, red costermonger’s tie…

    Perfick!

  73. StevenL said:

    Firstly I think Boris is the one Tory that is respected, liked and high profile enough, and disposable in terms of the Shadow Cabinet, that could win a mayoral election against Livingstone. Secondly I think if Boris was Mayor of London all those people that like him, but dismiss him as a silly baffoon, would come to see his talent as a serious politican and soon cries of ‘Boris for PM’ would reverbarate around the capital. Thirdly I think Boris has the charisma and personality to tackle the serious social issues that blight London, not through eye catching initiatives and tax hikes, but by being a real man and a role model for London’s urban youth.

    On the first point, I agree completely. Boris would give Livingstone a run for his money and stands the best chance of anyone in any party of actually defeating the man.

    On the second, yes and no. Or rather: yes, and it won’t do a damn bit of good for years and years. Which is, I think, exactly what Cameron is counting on. He simply can’t afford to have the golden charisma asteroid that is Boris Johnson hanging around with no major frontbench position (pace higher educationalistas). He needs to put him on ice somewhere until his own position as Top Tory is secure, lest the courtiers look at their charmless robot overlord and think “He costs us ten points when he doesn’t open his mouth and twelve when he does. At least with Johnson we’ll lead the news every night.” So encouraging Boris to run for Mayor of London and putting the Conservative Party machine (such as it is) behind him serves Cameron perfectly.

    Third, not a chance. Everyone loves Boris, but have you, Steven, changed your life (as an urban youth) because of his example? I can’t see legions of hoodies suddenly giving up crack and taking up bicycling and Etonian vowels. Can you?

  74. “so the people of Grantham can have a proper Tory” (Boris) – very good idea; can we have Boris please?
    Of course, if Boris were PM we’d have him indirectly anyway…

  75. < ‘Steven, changed your life (as an urban youth) because of his example?’ (raincoaster)<

    Not my life, but my outlook on a lot of things in life have been influenced by Boris. This was the first site I ever blogged on. I would never have read your website raincoaster if it wasn’t for Boris.

    I remember migrating from buying whichever newspaper I liked the front page of the most to the Telegraph back in 2006. This introduced me to Boris’s column, which somehow led me to this website. When the Sunday Telegraph serialised bits of ‘Dream of Rome’ I decided it would be an interesting book to read, and it was. Over a year down the line I would certainly say that Boris, and the rest of the people that blog or post their blog links on here have influenced, and expanded, my sphere of political thought. Now I don’t just read newspapers, I read, and comment upon, a whole raft of blogs too. Definately a change for the better if you ask me.

    Now I’m looking forward to Boris’s new book with baited breath, I can’t wait to read his analysis on the British.

  76. now that president blair has been replaced by dour president brown how about an english conservative party to represent the views of the english people i as an nhs worker are absolutely been let down by the the so called new ,new labour, government the nhs workers in england have been let down badley by this government we get a fraction of the payrises while the workers in scotland wales and northern ireland get the full over inflation rise plus the abovee patients get the better treatment subsidised by us in england in sure you boris would make a great leader of a n english conservative party better than david cammeron who is worse thaan useless ait probly would restore confidance of many people in the north of england who feel let down by ,new labour ,any comments jim walker

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