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Is it time for ‘nose-peg Toryism’?

24 July 2014

Before the election in 2005, the magnificently grand Polly Toynbee made a generous offer to Guardian readers reluctant to vote for Tony Blair after Iraq. ‘There is much to be proud of in voting Labour — but I have a free offer for the reluctant. On my desk is a basket of wooden nose-pegs marked “Labour”. Any reluctant voter can have one of these to wear to the polls; apply here now,’ she said irresistibly. I seem to recall there was a bit of a run on them.

I wonder whether the point has come for some obliging Tory journalist to make the same offer to disgruntled Conservatives. There is, of course, much for them to hold their noses about, notwithstanding progress on welfare reform. In no particular order there is:


1). The sacking of Michael Gove, one of the few radical reformists in government, a man who, correctly, saw education as a means to close the class divide and increase social mobility.

2). Gay marriage. Did anyone, reading the last Tory manifesto get from it that the PM would be reworking the most basic social institution of all? Plainly, not even his mother expected it.

3). The Strategic Defence Review, 2010, the one that cut the regular army from 102,000 in 2010 to 82,000 in 2018, while reservists go up to 30,000. This was described by one retired general the other week at a meeting I attended as indication the government didn’t know what it was doing on defence. Passing the buck to the Territorial Army, which simply isn’t equipped for the job, suggests that Philip Hammond, now Foreign Secretary, didn’t really understand his brief.

These are just to be getting on with; Tory voters will have their own little list. But I think the nose-pegs would come in handy. Unlike would-be Labour voters in 2005, Conservatives with a bad smell do have somewhere to go — Ukip — though the party will no doubt be working its hardest on the ‘Vote Nigel, Get Ed’ message. As I say, there is work on the peg front to be done by some Tory pundit, though it may be hard to find someone quite as grand as Polly. Perhaps Charles Moore should volunteer to distribute what could be industrial quantities on request.

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  • El_Sid

    Given that Hammond joined the MoD in October 2011, I’m not sure why you’re blaming him for decisions taken in the SDSR of 2010… The reality is that whoever was in charge of the MoD had very little room for manoeuvre, headcount is one of the few things that are easy to cut given the inflexible demands of pensions and long-term projects.

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  • Archibald Heatherington

    I do canvassing work for the Tories. I don’t like the current Tory leadership: I’d prefer BoJo for PM – an actual conservative.

    But imagine this scenario in a constituency: 26% Tory vote, 26% UKIP vote, 30% Lib Dem vote. Lib dems win seat. This happened in Eastleigh. If the right is split in many seats in 2015, we get a labour/ lib-lab government. Whatever the Conservatives’ current failings (and a lot of us look forward to a post-Cameron party that addresses them), the threat of Red Ed in Government is the scariest thing imaginable. Because of voter location/FPTP, UKIP needs about 10% at least to get three seats, roughly.

    Please, I beg of you, don’t condemn me to live under a Labour government just because you can’t swallow your pride and vote for the only right wing party that has a hope of forming a government.

    Please, vote tactically and sensibly, rather than with your heart. Don’t impoverish us all.

    (Nota Bene: Some people speak of UKIP needing only to hold the ‘balance of power’. Probably this would require at least twenty seats. That would require a UKIP vote of somewhere between twenty and thirty percent, probably, on account of FPTP, and UKIP voters being spread evenly around the country. It just won’t happen.)

  • anosrep

    “Michael Gove…a man
    who, correctly, saw education as a means to close the class divide and
    increase social mobility.”

    And thought, “Gosh, we must put a stop to that at once!”

  • Fergus Pickering

    Naw. Just vote UKIP. That’ll do it.

  • tjamesjones

    Good blog entry – I feel with Michael Gove that he was moving in the right direction, but so long as labour and the teacher’s unions act for their own narrow self interest, reform will founder. It’s no good being right if you’re out of power.

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  • kyalami

    Those core Tories who have been alienated by the actions of the Government will vote – but for someone other than the Conservative Party.

  • TimboX

    No, it’s time for UKIP

  • girondas2

    “Is it time for ‘nose-peg Toryism’?”


  • the viceroy’s gin

    Well, some are going to use your nosepeg idea in a billboard or two, I bet. But it won’t be in quite the same way you envision here, lass. 😉

    I can imagine various nosepegs labeled Lib and some labeled Lab and some labeled Con, with the streets filled with groaning masses of be-pegged noses of those political persuasions, but then guess who will suddenly appear like a superhero, to relieve them of their suffering, and the awful stench of LibLabCon? 😉

  • Jack

    It should read: The sacking of Michael Gove, one of the few radical reformists in government, a man who, correctly, saw education as a means to increase the class divide and close social mobility.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    A peg? General anaesthetic more like.

  • Stu

    Grand as Toynbee??? A third rate champagne socialist hack on a failing rag is closer to the truth.

    • black11hawk

      I think he meant that Tories hold in such high esteem as Labour supporters hold Ms Toynbee.

    • Sameer P. Sarkar

      And have you seen her picture? Ugly to the boot. Face and politics do match!

  • Lady Magdalene

    The pegs will be wasted.
    Vote UKIP and there’s at least a chance you’ll get UKIP.
    Vote LibLabCON and you get the EU.

  • Diggery Whiggery

    Even with a clothes peg on my nose, it would make me physically ill.

  • P_S_W

    Polly Toynbee and magnificently grand in the same sentence?

    Shurely shome mishtake?

  • YahYah

    1) Has the policy changed? Are you really suggesting that voters should base their choice on the people executing the policy rather than the policy itself? That they should be enraged that the administrator changed?

    2) Fair enough.

    3) Really? The SDR?!? Evidently Hammond understand it perfectly, and the politics of it. But sorry, you must have been making another indirect swipe at the reshuffle. Oh, look! There’s a little more to be scraped from the bottom of this barrel!

    #outragedcamerondidntconsultthespectatorbeforesackinggove #whodoeshethinkheis

  • @PhilKean1

    A ######g space suit wouldn’t mask the stench sufficiently to enable me to vote Cameron.

    I gave him the benefit in 2010. Worst political mistake of my life. UKIP it is !

  • andagain

    Nobody ever gets the government they want – there are too many things to disagree about.

    But many Conservatives, it seems, would prefer a government they hate.

    • MrsDBliss

      No, many conservatives would prefer a government they hate that they don’t have responsibility of voting for as opposed to a government they hate that they do.

      • andagain

        Exactly. They hate any governement that does not give them everything exactly as they want, so they prefer a government that gives them the opposite of what they want. Then they can hate it even more.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Maybe they hate both, since they’re both alike.

        • Colonel Mustard

          That doesn’t make any sense and ‘hate’ is too strong a word. I hate the Labour party, I intensely dislike Cameron but my feeling for the “reformed” Conservative party is contempt. I treat them all as an alien occupying force, a puppet government, like Vichy. And that feeling will intensify if a Belgian-Polish communist walks into No.10.

          • andagain

            Who is this “Belgian-Polish communist”, exactly?

            • Colonel Mustard

              Ed Miliband. With a Belgian father and Polish mother who were both communists.

              • andagain

                Frankly, this inability to distinguish between a man and his parents does nothing to make Conservatives look reasonable and rational.

    • kyalami

      Many Conservatives would like a Tory Government that acts in a Conservative manner. This one has been dreadful.

  • The Masked Marvel

    One would rather use those pegs to hang “Vote UKIP” signs instead.

  • swatnan

    Won’t work. ‘see no evil; hear no evil, speak no evil’ still available

  • LadyDingDong

    I have had a peg on my nose since 1990 and the loss of the great Lady – I reused the one I wore while that traitor Heath was PM.

    • Lady Magdalene

      About time you threw it away then and got the full stench of what you’ve been supporting ….. and then switch to UKIP.

    • Smithersjones2013

      I’m surprised it has not rotted away having protected you from such corrosive festering putrescence for so long

  • david trant

    I would have thought that Dave’s praise for the EU in his latest speech was the final nail in the coffin for any Euro Sceptic thinking that the referendum would be nothing more than a fix, probably pushed the last of the doubters into UKIP’s camp.

  • ButcombeMan

    The real nose peg issue for me is Osborne.

    He has failed, to get a grip on government spending, he has failed to reform Stamp Duty & VAT at 20% is killing the white economy and increasing the black economy.

  • Jacques Strap

    That bunch of ‘big C’ Tories are delusional.

  • global city

    A vote for the Tories would be a betrayal of any conservative future anyone may desire, as such a vote now will make it clear to the Cameroonian/reformists that they were right.

    If you are a genuine conservative and you vote for the Tories now it will mean you are happy to be mocked and ignored….and you will continue to be so.

  • Agrippina

    You must be joking. We need control of our borders, our infrastructure is creaking with the hordes over here from the EU & beyond. NHS hardly coping, lack of school places, (being taken over by nutty mossies – all parties have known about it for yrs and done nothing), lack of jobs, lack of housing.

    No thanks to vote for the same trio of troughers and expect something new is madness.

    UKIP all the way, out of the EU and take contol back from the liars in Brussels.

    I note that a boat arrived in Italy and some men have been arrested for throwing folks overboard and deaths in the boat! guess where they will be coming to shortly.

    • Conway

      I was speaking to a chap who works in immigration recently and he quoted the figure of 3,000 non-EU immigrants out of 219,000 net immigrants. It’s clear that by far the largest numbers of immigrants are coming from where we have no control over. Once we are out of the EU, we can address this (and many of the other things that are holding us back as well). I see the EU has now decided that firms employing more than 500 people will have to include a diversity and ecological impact report in their annual returns. More unnecessary expense.

      • Agrippina

        I spoke to the border officials at Heathrow recently, and was told that even now, when a queue builds up, they simply let everyone through, mustn’t keep the wastrels waiting!

      • Damaris Tighe

        When I hear the word diversity I reach for my …..pen.

      • HJ777

        I don’t know the recent figures, but under Labour, the clear majority of immigrants were from non-EU countries.

    • tjamesjones

      ah yes, circa 1930’s standard of living, you’re a bright spark in a dull morning. I always say, a weak argument is the worst argument of all, because it shows that there is nothing behind the facade. (We don’t have a 30s standard of living agrippina, if you’d like to get into the details then I’m in)

  • Smithersjones2013

    Putting a peg on your nose just won’t cut it this time McDonut. What you will need is full blown colonic irrigation for the next five years to purge the grubbiness of voting for ‘Cameron’s Unclean’.

    As for me I intend to remain clean as a whistle! Pristine and Pure An establishment free zone.

    PS Is McDonut’s memory that bad? Labour supporters who could not face voting for Blair tended to migrate to the Libdems.

  • Marmalade Sandwich

    There is little distance between Lib/Lab/Con, and they set their own agenda against the wishes of the electorate. So give them all a wide berth in 2015 and give your votes* to UKIP. Nigel Farage has been the outstanding leader of a political party for quite some time.

    * multiple if you get the chance.

  • Frank

    I believe that the cunning plan (to reduce the regular armed forces by 20% and count on increasing the numbers of reservists to fill the gap) was proposed by General Sir Nick Carter as a means of saving money. This proposal was then accepted by the MOD, even though no-one had / has the faintest idea whether it will actually be possible, or even save any money. The plan is seriously behind track and doesn’t appear to be saving money (but then the armed forces head count has never been the key financial cost in the MOD – that would be the moronic procurement system). Perhaps Hammond should have realised the absurdity of General Carter’s plan, but then Hammond possibly thought that he could trust this General’s expertise?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Page 2 for the gobbledygook and spin.

      The “strategic threat” of the UK’s economic “climate” did not prevent the Prime Minister from boasting about hosing £11 billion of borrowed money overseas or bestowing £13 billion of taxpayers money on a large number of Labour party dominated quangos, NGOs and fake charities.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        That last paragraph sent a shiver down my spine. They’re not even disguising their intentions, now.

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