The closer you are, the bluer they get

27 March 2012

I have always thought Francis Maude was a rather decent chap on the
moderate side of Tory politics. He has worked valiantly to drive the Big Society agenda from the Cabinet Office. He has the good hair of a classic Conservative MP of the old school. But he gave the
game away when he talked on the Today programme about the ‘suppers’ held at Downing Street. For the people
out there who think that supper is a snack you have in your pyjamas just before bedtime, and dinner is something you eat in the middle of the day, Maude’s comments will be mystifying (if, that is,
they ever listen to the Today programme).

In these straitened times a lot of voters out there can’t afford to have anyone around for dinner, tea or supper. Tory pollsters know Cameron has a credibility problem when he tries to identify
with ordinary families. This whole episode just adds to the impression that we are governed by a metropolitan elite, entirely out of touch with the way most people lead their lives.

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For almost two decades it has been unfashionable to talk about class, and the millionaires of Cameron-era Conservatism were the products and beneficiaries of this convenient fad. The combined
effect of a Budget which appeared to take from the most vulnerable to give to the most fortunate and the latest cash-for-access scandal could not be more toxic.

In policy, the centrist mask the Tories wore in opposition has well and truly slipped. Where the Tories are dominant, we are witnessing reforms every bit as ideological as during the Thatcher era,
even if the execution is often desperately incompetent. As one senior Liberal Democrat told me: ‘It’s a bit like the creatures in Avatar, the closer you are to them, the bluer they

The Labour high command knows the government still has one asset that gives it the electoral edge: David Cameron himself. This latest scandal is further evidence of the Prime Minister’s sometimes
woefully poor judgement, following serious lapses over Andy Coulson, Liam Fox and Emma Harrison.  And yet, despite everything, he remains a more convincing Prime Minister than Ed Miliband.

The Tories may be posh, out-of-touch, ideologically right-wing, mired in scandal and barely able to implement reform, but (despite the latest ComRes polling in the Independent) they still look the best bet for victory
in 2015.

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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Your view is good.

  • Martin J

    the phrase “kitchen suppers” grates, but on the whole i think people can understand that others use different argo, and don’t actually mind being governed by someone from a slightly different culture to them. issue only of interest to chattering classes/politics obsessives

  • trevor21

    Piece by steady piece this shambles is building the Labour landslide.As a sometimes Labour supporter I find Ca’moron the best thing since sliced bread.More strength to your elbow,Sir

  • anyfool

    Mr not so Bright can you tell me and the rest of the dimwits who will lend your wished for love child namely a Labour Government the money to run the country at a rate we could afford. you and a lot of idiots in this country have already forgotten the damage your love of the easy option caused this country but the lenders have not

  • Noa.


    You seem to be relating the degree of hatred or contempt felt about politicians to the amount of dosh they acquired as a result of their political careers.

    In short a ‘Loathing’ graph, with cash on the Y axis and Time or Misdeeds on the X.

    Your hatred for Blair is wealth based and subjective. Many who post here would reluctantly accede to and even applaud his capitalist approach but nevertheless despise him for, leading us into say, war in Iraq.

    My contempt for them as a whole is based based on their joint misdeeds. Individuals being judged, weighed and found wanting for their malfeasances in office rather than out of it.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Jan Cosgrove : 5.49am

    Blair is to statesmanship what Stephen Fry is to wisdom or Katherine Jenkins to opera singing.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    “The Tories may be posh, out-of-touch, ideologically right-wing”

    Right-wing? You’re having a giraffe, surely.

    Cameron, Osborne and most other Tories of their generation are as much part of the Big State, communitarian view of society as are the likes of Miliband Major and Clegg. They’re about as far from the old Monday Club right-wing as it’s possible to get.

    Or is it just that your definition of “right-wing” is “being a Conservative”, in which case you might perhaps see your contribution to the drip-drip demonisation of the Conservative leadership as the tautology that it is.

  • E Hart

    Who cares what class they are from? Jesus had a last supper! Maude is real. He’s not trying to be something he isn’t. There is only one question, though, are they any good? The answer to that is “no”.

    There is a long way to go to 2015 but it is going to be agony for David Cameron. He’s less of liability than those who surround him – Osborne, Lansley, Spellman, May, Gove, Pickles… However, it’s Osborne who is going to do for him. The government’s economic policy is a disaster. If ever there was a time not to leave things to the market – it’s now. The economy not class will determine the outcome for Tories.

  • Jan Cosgrove

    Fergus Blair won’t do anything for money. It’s that people keep offering him money. Work out why. He’s bankable at this time, like a premier league player. If Beckham did nothing in football, he’d still get the offers. Blair’s capacity to earn is not based on his estimation of his pulling power. Like any star, he cashes in on fame. The man has star quality, like him or loathe him. You may not like his act, but he has it in bucket loads, he shines about the pile. It’s Iraq that has sullied his image, even those who were happy enough to follow him on that issue now express their revulsion and blame him. Hypocrites all. Labour won’t forgive him on that, the tories won’t because he outclassed them in every direction. I blame him for not staying and facing up to Brown’s sulks and subversions. Brown lost the 2010 May Election, Blair would have won it. Gordon you should have stayed counting the change.

  • Fergus Pickering

    I wasn’ saying who deserves it, Noa. I was saying who has it. And Tony blair stands alone. Even Maggie Thatcher at her best can’t touch the bastard. It’s the fact that he’ll do absolutely anything for money, that’s what singles him out.

  • Edward McLaughlin


    Could you define a ‘wealth creator’ please? I would like to know if I qualify for the category.

  • cg

    statechaos – you say ‘wealth creators’. Others see job destroyers. Whether it’s true or not, you are very out of touch if you don’t understand that this feeling exists.

  • statechaos

    This obsession with class is ridiculous. Do we want to be governed by ex-Trades Unionists, and public sector workers who know nothing about wealth creation and only how to spend other peoples money? They would in turn be dangerously out of touch with the wealth creators on which the welfare state depends.Do you think Sarkozy, Merkel and Obama don’t have dinner parties and invite their friends? What a pathetic, envious little nation we have become.

  • Noa.

    “Hate, deep and visceral, is reserved for Tony Blair…”

    No, in my book Brown deserves it too, as does Straw. Perhaps a lesser emotion; say contempt, for serves for the bottom feeders.
    As Cameron has only had two years at the table, he too fits this category, give him time though. He can and will improve on contempt.

  • Reality Check

    What is this modern malaise of discussing how people will react to news being presented as news, in lieu of actual debate on details and issues. We ARE these people, listening to the media discussing how they think we’ll react to the words being said, the voters are not some weird other breed we’re all observing as part of an experiment. So instead of spending time discussing perceptions, do your f**king job and talk about the facts and details, and we’ll make our mind up on the rest when we’re good and ready.

    We don’t need the BBC to become the publicity arm of the Labour party. Did we get analysis of the budget and whether attempts to create a business-friendly environment and encourage inward investment were worthy, and the facts about the changes to pensioners? No, the vast majority of time was spent discussing and telling us how we’d perceive it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if the great unwashed are told this is probably seen as for the rich and bad for grans, then when polled they’ll buy that bollocks regardless of the strong facts and analysis by independent bodies to the contrary.

    So here’s an idea for you and your ilk Mr Bright, rather than talk about what people will think, try talking about the f**king details and the pros and cons surrounding them, and leave us to decide how we feel about them.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Cameron isn’t hated except by political wonks. Even Brown isn’t hated. Hate, deep and visceral, is reserved for Tony Blair, and quite right too.

  • normanc

    Martin’s articles are usually worth a read but this is tosh of the highest order full of worn out cliches. Put a little effort in at least, this crap could be spewed out by a computer algorithm.

  • George Shepherd

    Wouldn’t disagree with you Martin but isn’t it depressing that the best that can be said about our PM is that he’s not quite as bad as the leader of the opposition

    But Cameron’s stock is in decline and is likely to go down even more as cuts begin to take effect and the Coulson affair re-emerges

    What about this scenario?

    In GE 2015 no single party commands outright majority. Tories are biggest party but still need Libs to govern. Cameron stays as PM but is increasingly hated and lacks authority – faces a challenge in 2016 and is ousted a la Thatcher

    Who would the Challengers be and who would be likely winner

  • Kayelemeno

    “And yet, despite everything, he remains a more convincing Prime Minister than Ed Miliband.”

    I wasn’t aware that Ed Miliband is or has been Prime Minister. What a stupid comment.

  • Nicholas

    It’s interesting how the things the Tories do which are exactly the same as the things that New Labour did when in power are attacked in terms of an archaic class war. The new metropolitan elite is not staffed by Tories alone but the old, derivative jibes of the class war are a useful distraction to tackling the reality. The gravy train is political/bureaucratic – not just Tory.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    All this post does is to betray a set of attitudes formed by tribalist idiocy rather than any sort of objective observation of what is going on. ‘Ideologically right wing’. Humphhh.

    They are ALL at it.

    They are all incompetent.

    You are part of the problem, because you don’t call them all out on it, every time you go into print, but accept their favours and play their game.

  • DavidDP

    We are seeing opposition to reforms every bit as ideological as the Thatcher era too.

    Does that make the opposition invalid?

  • Mike Wood

    Dangerously complacent. My guess is that the slump will last several years yet and the worst is yet to come. Its also early days politically, EM is rapidly improving as LO and Balls completely outclasses Osborn in his grasp of economics (although not Cable) – lets come back in two years.

  • Tony hammond

    Yes, for a Labour victory

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