Sunday 3 July 2016

Under Starter's Orders

Near sixty years ago when in Ireland we were at Ballinamuck, a real place by Dungarvan, and the map did not seem to match the road layout.  We asked a local gentleman sitting on a doorstep for help.  "How do we get to Youghal?".  He gave us a long look, shook his head and said "Well, I wouldn't start from here if I were you."

Which is much my feeling when looking at the present situation in the leadership issues affecting the Conservative and Labour parties.  I am close to saying why don't Calamity Cameron and Clodhopping Corbyn simply change jobs?  It may not make a lot of difference because if reports are to believed all are under other thumbs.

At present there are long, coherent and well argued cases offered against Theresa May, Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom in the Conservative contest.  May's tenure of the Home Office is a record of failure as well as being alleged to be close to G4S a company with many government contracts and almost as many expensive disasters.

She is well connected to the financial lobbies.  Also she is alleged to be a closet Leftie, although it may that she has been taken prisoner by her not so civil servants and their friends among the lobbyists.

Gove is said to be pushed as a Murdoch man and by an even pushier wife.  His own record at Education, even if you disregard the caterwauling of the vested interests, is not promising.  His admitted lack of charisma may not be just that, it may be that he is a bad negotiator at a time when this quality is critical.  He might make a useful butler, but not a land agent.

Leadsom is noted for having done well, again in banking, and has perfectly legal arrangements to reduce the taxes payable.  That these are in tax havens is, however, out of joint with the times and the connections etc. to these are a factor.  Also, she has little experience.  This has the advantage of having had fewer disasters, but there is the smack of Calamity Cameron about her.

For Labour it is being pointed out that the real problem is that the 21st Century Labour Party is in fact three disparate parts who have been moving away from each other.  They are the London Lot, aka the Westminster Bubble, the Lefties and the Lower Orders in the provinces.  The Referendum campaign has let cats out of bags who are not going to return.  What happens next?

One feature these days is that because of libel laws and other matters, the media have to be very careful about what they say regarding peoples personal lives and predilections.  But with the power of the web it is possible to research histories in minutes that might have taken weeks or months so more is said about families in the past.

These is leading to some interesting questions.  The Tory Party in the past may have been Upstairs and certainly not Downstairs; as in the TV series, but now they are looking much more Down than Up.  May did indeed have a great grandfather who was a butler and his employer seems to have been a retired senior medical official of Bengal.  So May's grandfather, Tom Brasier, a younger son, became a regular solder of the Queen (Victoria).

When World War One began he was in Northern India with the Kings Royal Rifle Corps, KRRC, who were brought back to England.  He became a Sergeant Major and his unit, the 4th Battalion, later found themselves in the Macedonian campaigns, or Salonika, a brutal little known part of the war in The Balkans.

He was discharged after meritorious service and mention in dispatches in February 1917, which suggests a serious injury.  His son, Hubert became an Anglican clergyman.  So a sermonising politician with the smack of a Sergeant Major is only to be expected.  Out of interest Anthony Eden, Prime Minister 1955-1957, served in the KRRC in France during WW1.

It is an intriguing contrast.  Tom's India would have been that of the Daniel Dravot and Peachey Carnehan of Kipling's "Man Born To Be King"  rather than that of the gilded intellectuals of the Indian Civil Service who adorned the top ranks of the old Labour Party.  The forebears before then may have been carpenters but their next door neighbours were Ag. Lab's.

Also to the point is Theresa May's Scottish ancestry. Tom Brasier married Amy Margaret Patterson who was of Scots descent and the Watson name is in the marriages.  They too were of the lower orders in the mining community of Kennet Clackmannanshire and very different from the lairds and landowners of the old Tory Party in Scotland.

So if May does become Prime Minister, when Nicola Sturgeon encounters her she will be meeting a child of The Union with a family history in the lower ranks of The Scottish Raj and among the miners and servant classes of Scotland.


  1. "why don't Calamity Cameron and Clodhopping Corbyn simply change jobs?"

    It's as good an option as any.

  2. but now they are only half way up, so are niether up nor down! :)

  3. "One feature these days is that because of libel laws and other matters, the media have to be very careful about what they say regarding peoples personal lives and predilections."

    You wouldn't think so given the innuendo,association and downright fabrication they employ daily. (see what I did there?)