I have to admit that a good part of my motivation for writing the ‘in opposition to the opposition’ blog the other day was to coherently present my argument against the modern Tories to my friend – the excellent blogger and fantastic stand-up comedian Tom Greeves (http://bigtommygspeaks.blogspot.com/). Tom is one of my favourite people to spend an evening in the pub with – he can reduce me to tears of laughter with his masterful wit but he is also a very sharp man, with a keen and quick mind and rare intelligence. Along with this, he is a fantastically warm and generous friend and brilliantly decent human being. I’m heaping on the praise – all of which is of the utmost sincerity – because, when he reads this, I want him to know that I think he’s fantastic and is one of my favourite people in the world… despite what I’m about to write….
I think in friendships there are many novelty factors. I know that many of my more ‘establishment’ friends enjoy having a big hairy rocker looking guy as a friend because it’s different to the rest of their social circle. I know some of my friends put great stock in my perceived either social standing or ‘coolness’ (I get introduced far far more often as ‘Jon – he owns Videosyncratic’ than just ‘my friend Jon’). I’m, of course, guilty of such transgressions against my own friends too, is it really a transgression? No, of course not, it’s just a novelty that we enjoy. Despite all I love about Tom – and that being the basis of our friendship – there is a novelty I enjoy about having him as a friend. He’s a Tory.
I do actually have one other Tory friend now, but that is fairly recent. Tom was the first. Me and my conservative friend. Indeed, when mentioning him to others I’ve called him ‘my friend Tom – the tory’, ‘my tory friend Tom’ or even ‘Tom the Tory’. It tickles me, I love having a Tory friend. I love talking with him about Tory maters. For a long while, one of my favourite possessions was his buisiness card from his position as speechwriter and policy consultant on Boris Johnson’s successful campaign to be London Mayor. I just got it out of the drawer to have a look. It’s ace! On the back there are 4 i-pod-advert-style silhouetted of Boris; a blue one (subtle) of him stood sensibly, back straight, arms behind his back, like a leader, a green one of him walking his bicycle along, a yellow one of him looking slightly dishevelled and a red one in which he his rubbing his messy-haired head. On the flip side are Tom’s contact details and the bold statement ‘BACK BORIS for a greater London’. I must have proudly shown it to many people at the time because I can’t even remember who scribbled out the first two letters, replacing the BA with an FU. This is beside the point and I actually rather like Boris as a mayor.
So, yeah, back to my point… Part of my impetus for that original post was to coherently explain to Tom why I can’t see how he could support Cameron as leader of his chosen party. I should also add that I don’t think Tom and I have actually discussed this matter in person at all. But I do feel I posted that blog as much to express my feelings as to elicit a response from him.
Today he linked me to this piece that he has written – http://conservativehome.blogs.com/centreright/2009/07/in-defence-of-youth-.html
I’m not sure if he wrote this in direct response to mine, we’ve not discussed it and I knew that if I took this into personal correspondence with him, I’d never have the patience to reformat my views into a blog. I’m not much of a re-drafter and tend to jump from one thing that interest me to the next. So I’m essentially making this public blog my open response to him, not because I can’t address him directly but because it kills two birds with one stone – especially since I had been toying with mentioning Chloe Smith in the blog before but had just left it.
I’m not going to pick apart Tom’s article which I mainly disagree with purely on the grounds that I don’t understand who he is rallying against – I’m unaware of anyone campaigning to raise the legal age of inductee MPs to 35 and have yet to see any blanket condemnation of young politicans in general. It certainly wasn’t my point. I think MPs should be from all walks of life and all ages. I would merely hope that they are politicized, passionate and have an agenda. I was, however, saying that a LEADER. A PRIME MINISTER should absolutely be a worldy and experienced person of both life and politics.
For those who don’t know, Chloe Smith is the 27 year old Tory candidate who just won the seat in a by-election of the traditionally Labour stronghold constituency of Norwich North. The Tories have predictably declared this an indication that the country wants ‘CHANGE’. I should emphasize again that I align myself with no political party, I’m a floating voter who votes based purely on the candidates as individuals. So, I’m ‘pro’ nobody but generally ‘anti’ annoying, exploitational bullshitters. Which, admittedly is the bulk of parliament.
Anyway, Chloe’s ‘victory’ is endemic of the state of politics in the UK. For the Tories to declare it a ‘win’ is kind of stupid. The by-election had been called because the Labour incumbent MP Ian Gibson had been deselcted by his party for being at the centre of the recent Expenses scandal. In such a time of political turmoil, is it surprising that if a party pulls it’s own candidate out, a local electorate is going to not trust the new candidate (or that same party) by default and go for the next most obvious candidate, which will always be Conservative. They did not win, Labour lost. The seat effectively defaulted to them.
So she’s in, would I discriminate against her age? No. Tom eloquently details the scale of experience to age and I agree that good judgment can be as important as experience in being a good politician. I also think motivation is important – WHY does this person WANT to be an MP. And this is where I think Chloe Smith particularly falls down. This week, she told journalist Alex Stevenson:
“I’m 27, I’ve never made any bones about that and actually I think one thing I can contribute is to put a little bit of energy back into politics,” she said brightly.
“I think people around here are ready for that… if I can put a bit of fresh energy into it – a fresh face – that’s what I’m going for.”
Is this not the very definition of what got us into trouble with our last Prime Minister. What does ‘a bit of energy’ and ‘a fresh face’ do in comparison to passion, a strong ideal and, yes, experience? On reading interviews with her, she just espouses bland partyline non-committal, transparently socialist patter.
I love the idea of a young, radical faction of politicians becoming MPs on both sides of the house and bringing some passion and idealism back into the building. In the meantime, I feel safe in declaring ms Smith a boring standard ‘New Tory’ goon with no real agenda, no firm policies, just a thirst for power and a ‘fresh face’.
The fact that Cameron so openly declares this a victory and a sign that the country wants him to lead shows to me only that he is either an idiot or a liar. Maybe both.
And I don’t get how a person who is intelligent, articulate and awesome enough to be friends with me could align himself so completely with the modern Conservative party.