”Too shy shy, hush hush, eye to eye” – Kajagoogoo
I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing on TV the other night. American novelist, Lionel Shriver was doing a piece on the BBC’S This Week, about the recent ‘Shy Tory’ phenomenon. The essence of her monologue was that left-wing people tend to be more ebullient and outspoken about their political views, which can leave some people, the undecided and suchlike, feeling intimidated and unwilling to share their voting preference, for fear of being made to feel bad about it.
It was a bit like one of those Sunday afternoon TV Appeals for natural disaster victims. I half expected Shriver to conclude by giving out a phone number that you could text, to donate cash for these unfortunate, Victims of Fairly Robust Opinions, who now have to suffer terribly in silence, because other people are complaining about them on-line. Not necessarily to them personally, you understand, just about people like them.. Ooh, how awful.
I waited for regular guest (on the programme that is, not in my house), Diane Abbot to say what I was thinking, but she didn’t. What I was thinking was, Hang on a just darn minute there. God forbid anyone be made to feel guilty or ashamed, unless it’s a poor person on benefits. Because if we are talking social stigmatizing, then every Tory politician and their aunties has spent the last 5 years taking pot-shots at and publicly demonizing the working poor, the sick and disabled. Where was the concern for any undeserved blaming and shaming then? And let’s not forget that they had the considerable weight of the Rupert Murdoch machine behind them too. The Sun, Daily Mail, etc all contributed to a steady drip-feed of pro-austerity propagandising, whilst trying to set neighbour against neighbour with red herring, Strivers Vs Skivers smokescreen. So forgive me if I do not feel too bad for the woes of the shy Tories. When Channel 4 start making series following them around, instead of Tenants on Benefits, then maybe we can talk.
One of the main aims of Tory party over the last five years has been to try and vilify, belittle and besmirch some of the county’s most vulnerable, so it’s a bit rich to be pleading clemency on behalf of people who made political choices that they aren’t proud enough of to admit to. I’m not for a second suggesting that it’s OK, to hassle or bully individuals, (leave that to the DWP and Work Capability Assessors) but to be told that one shouldn’t complain about a pro-austerity ideology that one finds abhorrent, just because that might offend those who have voted to continue that ideology, is a bit of a cheek to say the least.
Have you noticed, how Tories rarely march for their causes? I daresay say many would answer that by saying that demonstrating is uncouth. But let’s face it, a lot of Tory ideals aren’t really things you’d be proud to carry around on a banner. Can’t really picture, DISMANTLE THE NHS or NO BENEFIT EXEMPTONS FOR CANCER PATIENTS going down that well, can you?
Shy Toryism is nothing new. When Margaret Thatcher became the country’s first female Prime Minister, she had spent a lot of time endearing herself to British housewives. Her campaign strategy included taking a supermarket basket around a store, and showing them exactly how much more shopping you would get for your money if you voted for her. She should know, thought many a mother, she’s a grocer’s daughter, you know. There were a lot of working class women who fell for her line and quietly voted for her. I think it was more common in the 70s than now, to adopt the ‘ I don’t talk about politics, it causes too much trouble’ attitude. But I remember many old uns years later, saying they’d voted for Maggie that first time, but regretted it..
Maybe today’s shy Tories would feel less beleaguered if we had a quaint sounding nickname for them. How about ‘Shysters’? No, I don’t think that would help. I will admit though, to almost feeling a tinge of sympathy for the few up in Scotland, where they must be feeling pretty isolated. May I suggest WTBs as a collective name? – Wee Timorous Beastories. Nice and poetic.
Oh, one last thing about the report on This Week. What caused my already slackened jaw to connect with the carpet, was when Lionel concluded that in future the Left might want to think about piping down, which would help with the shyness issue, and then we might actually get more accurate opinion poll results. Well EXCUSE ME! Let’s all go and sit on the naughty step with our hands over our mouths for the next five years, lest we befuddle the poor opinion pollsters. All sounds a bit Big Brother to me, when they get told off for discussing nominations..
Anyhow, all those shrinking political violets should be looking on the bright side. For a start, they won. Yay! And to quote Matthew 5.5. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. And what with the Tories taking the most well off people, out of inheritance tax, that all worked out then. Pardon? You aren’t well off? Well, more fool you for propping Cameron up then.
Right, I’m off to see an 80’s pop act tribute band, made up of some smelly, nasty benefit claimants, they’re called Cadger GooGoo..
Too shy shy, hush hush eye to eye..