Kevin Meagher calms down after Conservative conference

OK, my fists are now unfurled. I have emptied my soul of expletives and invective. Bad thoughts have passed. The rage has subsided. The television, though battered and bruised, will live on. I’m like this every October. For one week, my usually ultra-rational impulses give way to a visceral tribalism. Undiluted exposure to the Conservative party conference does that to me. It elicits a physical reaction as a mixture of loathing and, well, more loathing, rises in my throat.

It’s not one thing in particular. It’s the all-embracing awfulness of it. It’s the platitudinous “debates” – grainy facsimiles of actual democratic discussion. It’s the perfunctory applause and standing ovations (an unfortunate habit that Labour has adopted). It’s the lame jokes. The wretched, simplistic homilies with their sneery nouveau riche morality.

It goes without saying that the Conservative conference is a platform for banality. But it provides endless visual and aural stimulation to someone looking to have his basic political orientation rebooted once a year. That is important. Politics is not only knowing what you are for; it is knowing what you are against too.

Even their stage sets look higher, as though they are trying to say ‘we are the masters now’ through the medium of interior design. In days past, the pastel blue decor used to match the hair colour of the first six rows of geriatric delegates. But this is the New Model Tory party. Blue-rinse grannies are now seated further back.

Young people, the like of which simply do not exist outside Tory circles, take their place. Men with curling lips and too much hair. Women who either speak with deep posh voices or in shrill, clipped tones. They mix with angry-looking old ladies, high on Daily Mail columnists’ bile. Stern, grey-haired men who probably still refer to “Rhodesia”. And, of course, there is always a good measure of self-loathing Josiah Bounderby proles scattered around the place.

Tory conference imagery is etched onto my political consciousness. This was the forum where Norman Tebbit spat out his contempt for the unemployed, telling them to get on their bikes and look for work. Where a bow-tied deregulation minister in the smirking shape of Neil Hamilton displayed his contempt for “red tape” by unfurling reams of paper over the top of the lecturn. Oh how the seals barked and clapped.

There was social security secretary, Peter Lilley. Charm personified. The man Spitting Image used to depict as a member of that other SS. How could we forget his Gilbert and Sullivan ditty about ‘young ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing queue’. Compassionate Conservatism indeed.

And then there was alpha-male era Michael Portillo and his play on the SAS motto (“we dare, we will…win!”). This was at the 1996 Tory conference, the autumn before he was unceremoniously slung out by the good folk of Enfield Southgate.

But those days are long gone, aren’t they? Expunged by Theresa May’s scolding remark that people back in the real world saw them as the “nasty party”. So “compassion” and “fairness” are the watchwords of Dave’s fuzzy new political creed.

Unfortunately, not everyone read the memo. Health minister Anne Milton’s aborted plan to get rid of free school milk nearly scraped through. The axeing of the building schools for the future programme unfortunately did. The benefits cap is this week’s hateful suggestion. And, finally, there is culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

Ah, Mr Hunt. Following his leader’s attack on the undeserving poor, Hunt says those “living on benefits,” need to think a bit harder about how many children they pop into the world. “It’s not going to be the role of the state to finance those choices,” he said. Will a Chinese-style policy of forced abortion follow?

Mr. Hunt’s leering eyes and waxy complexion make him a close competitor to Michael Gove in the contest to see which Tory minister most resembles a ventriloquist’s dummy. Mr. Hunt may face the additional ignominy (or perhaps it is the pinnacle of approbation in Tory circles?) of being the first Tory minister of this era to end up as pejorative cockney rhyming slang.

But he is guilty of no more than letting the cat out of the bag. Tory conference is the annual distillation of what the Tories truly think: “I live a good life. I work. I save. I am self-reliant. I deserve good things to happen to me. Those who do none of these things are bad people and therefore deserve bad things to happen to them. And we should not support them in facing up to the consequences of their bad choices”.

Let this week-long orgy of simpering, sanctimonious blather herald the news that the Nasty party is alive and well. Of course, I could have just turned-off the television. But Conservative conference is like an identity espresso. One undiluted slug keeps me going for the rest of the year.

Same time next year, guys?

Formerly an adviser to Labour ministers, Kevin Meagher is a campaign consultant.


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4 Responses to “Kevin Meagher calms down after Conservative conference”

  1. Tory Bear says:

    Formerly an adviser to Labour ministers, Kevin Meagher is a campaign consultant and also an ignorant **** as well it seems.

  2. Quality Kevin.

    What a complete shambles…

    Specially Mr Bunt.

    surprised no mention of that other gem they now call

    End Of.

  3. Kevin says:

    Ooh, Matron! The point of you reading this blog TB is, I guess, the same as me watching Tory conference.

  4. Henrik says:

    Cracking vituperation, that’s the stuff to give the comrades to cheer them up. With that off your chest, can you now please move off smartly into the long grass over there and start cooking up some sort of platform which will make people want to vote for you chaps? It’s just that politics without an Opposition, while pretty OK by me, is not that democratic. Hint: Opposition shouldn’t really be just “opposing everything the other guys do”; there ideally should be a constructive element in there as well.

    Interesting to note that the deeply personal (and well-articulated and funny) dislike you folk have of the Tories is so deeply ingrained. You can’t imagine they, too, might actually be doing and saying what they are because, shock, their opinions differ from yours, right? No, they are TEH EVILL and must be PWNED!

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