New Conservative Leadership

Insightful editorial in this week’s Spectator

How to breed poodles

Conservative MPs and candidates have spent the last four years campaigning against two connected evils of the Labour style of government. In innumerable speeches and press releases, they have stood up for local and national democracy, and against the tendency of the government to centralise power and to hand it over to quangocrats, bureaucrats and officials in Brussels. They have also launched countless philippics against Labour’s love of the target and the quota, and all manner of diktat from Whitehall.

It is quite incredible, therefore, that the Tory hierarchy is now proposing reforms of the party that are not only anti-democratic but which impose, for the first time in the history of British democracy, a series of demented Stalinist tick-box productivity targets on MPs. In so far as the changes announced on Tuesday are intelligible, they would seem to take away the last vestige of sovereignty and autonomy that has traditionally resided with local associations. Candidates or MPs can now be purged by the ‘Board’ of the Conservative party, a collection of the nomenklatura, most of them unelected, so formalising the mechanism that was used with such brutal effect in the run-up to the last election.

Angry Conservatives bit their tongues this spring at the treatment of Danny Kruger, Adrian Hilton and Howard Flight. There was an election to fight, and the higher cause was unquestionably the removal of Tony Blair. No one now need exercise any such compunction, especially since Michael Howard has explicitly called for a wide-ranging debate. Let us enter that debate, therefore, and say that these three appeared to be punished for thought-crime – and, in the case of Kruger and Flight, for the crime of thinking what was in the minds of millions of other Conservatives. Far from giving the appearance of strength, the massacre of these candidates showed a kind of paranoia. Far from sharpening the electorate’s understanding of Tory plans, the purges produced puzzlement. The Conservative manifesto explicitly called for the sacking of 250,000 public sector officials. That may or may not have been wise; but in what sense, exactly, were Kruger and Flight heretical? No doubt they had strayed off-message, but their distance from the approved piste was so small that we were left in the end with the unpleasant sensation that this was not about ideology but about power.

It cannot be right, when people are so bored with the cant of politicians, and the droning inanities of speeches made to please the whips, for the Tory party to introduce this new tyranny over the thinking of their MPs, and to sever the bond of accountability between MPs and their associations. If we understand the proposals correctly, it is intended that the national party bigwigs will be able to move in and sack the entire executive of any association that steps out of line – by having the temerity, for instance, to stick up for its Member of Parliament. That is not conducive to independence of thought, and it is hard to see why the public should have any interest or confidence in their MPs if they are turned into terrified poodles who can be machine-gunned at any moment for appearing to misconstrue party policy.

To make matters worse, it is now suggested – and it seems barely credible – that Tory MPs will have to sign some kind of contract, agreeing to abide by certain ‘values’ and to make so many speeches and to eat so much rubber chicken. It cannot be possible that a man of the Tory chief whip’s sagacity should be associated with such a crackbrained scheme, but if there is the slightest truth in it, this magazine urges all Tory MPs to take this contract and tear it up. We are talking about the Conservative party, not Kentucky Fried Chicken. Tory MPs do not need any mission statement; and as for their productivity, the best and shrewdest judge of that is the British electorate.

The crowning absurdity is that these hasty and ill-thought-out reforms have been produced as a ‘package’ and linked to changes in the leadership rules. There is no reason why the two should not be wholly distinct; though, for what it is worth, the proposed changes to the Tory leadership election rules share the vice of the changes to the role of local associations: they both tend to take discretion away from MPs and the grass-roots, and hand it to the unelected party cadres. That is a retrograde step, and it is a good thing, as Michael Howard has reassured his party, that we are only at the beginning of the debate. Far better than the present proposal, which places power in the hands of a 900-strong Tory ‘convention’, why not ask the grass-roots to propose a shortlist of between three and six MPs, and let the MPs make the final call? Better still, it would be a fine thing if the Tory party could dispense with the agonies of a contest – in which faction is inevitably entrenched, and scars can take a long time to heal – and allow the leader to ’emerge’. The 182 cardinals don’t seem to have any difficulty in Rome. Why should the 197 Tories? Bring back an enlarged Magic Circle.

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56 thoughts on “New Conservative Leadership”

  1. Yes, for heaven’s sake don’t go down the New Labour road. The last thing this country needs is smiling, on-message, mealy-mouthed New Labour vs smiling, on-message, mealy-mouthed New Conservative. It’s not 1997. The public aren’t fooled anymore.

  2. And can you think of any potential candidate who might benefit from these changes not being enacted, Mr J? Someone more popular amongst the rank and file than within the parliamentary group, who might have some axe to grind by penning such an article as yours? Buggered if I can. Very subtle, Bozza.

  3. I can see great merit in the idea that the Tory MPs all go and sit in a room, and no one is allowed out until they’ve chosen a leader. I’m not being sarcastic – I think it’s a very good idea.

  4. History proves that any party that dominates the system for long falls into the corruption trap.

    Keep pumping positive policy papers – green and white. Engage, engage one and all even the rednecks 😉 Be negative only when the situation warrants – I is not just journalists who fail to heed George Bernard Shaw’s warning politicians also tend to be unable to ‘discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization.’ Shaw’s observation holds true today, but even more tomorrow …

    Light reading: The 2005 British election was held on 5 May. Scott Bennett reviews the campaign, the results and the fall-out, and looks at the controversy over Britain

  5. Watching the Tory leadership election is like Jurrasic Park. Mr Dinosaur X vs Mr Dinosaur Y.

    Ken Clarke is the T Rex, but all the smaller ones gang up on him, so he never wins. Boris and his mates are a bunch of dosile long necked plant eaters, their heads are in the clouds, but they don’t do anybody any harm.

    David Cameron and George Osborne are like the mammals. A new breed of furry little critters. The media loves them because they are ‘cute’ and squeeky. As with most early mammals they will probably end up getting munched, but in the long run, are destined to replace the dinosaurs.

    Until that is… a foolish group of underground renegade scientists decide to reconstruct the DNA extracted from a dinosaur fossil and bring the dinosaurs back to life (such as when IDS appointed Howard as shadow chancellor) leading to the ultimate destruction of the human race!

    Until that is… a foolish group of underground renegade repilian humanoid scientists decide to reconstruct the DNA extracted from a human fossil and bring the humans back to life… leading to the ultimate destruction of the dinosaurs!

    Until that is… a foolish group of underground renegade scientists decide to reconstruct the DNA extracted from a dinosaur fossil and bring the dinosaurs back to life (such as when IDS appointed Howard as shadow chancellor) leading to the ultimate destruction of the human race!

    Ok you get it.

  6. What many members have been calling for is for the party to focus their guns not on fellow Conservatives – but on the Government. In the early hours of May 6th I had lost my own election battle, but Britain had given Blair a bloody nose. Following on from that he has bodged his reshuffle and now isn’t really sure what he needs to do with regards the European constitution. At a time like this our efforts should be aimed at pushing forward the Conservative agenda rather than months of stagnation posibly until after the party conference which would make us a lame duck opposition. We need to re-discover the fire and passion that comes with wanting to win. I’m not a Liverpool FC fan – but they were 3-0 down at half time – and look what happened. Since I have been able to vote the Conservatives have lost 3 elections, and I am now 30. Whoever is going to be leader needs to unite the whole party. The next election campaign cannot start in three years time. It has to start now.

  7. Comrade Smirnoff, sounds like the jurassic pot calling the kettle black to me. You’re a communist and yet you’re calling others political donosaurs? And how did your preferred party do on May 5th? Did they come second? Third? Top twenty?

  8. The answer is quite simple.
    Voters elect their MPs.
    The MPs elect their leader.
    End of story.

  9. The Conservative leaders do have to strike a difficult balance between freedom and discipline. For some reason if there is any open debate about different opinions within a political party the BBC news especially treat this as a story mainly about a “party split”, ignoring the points of substance that people are trying to debate.

    New Labour’s original success therefore had to be based on strong party discipline and silencing independent thought. However, it became obvious that if taken too far this alienated the voters, from the time of Ken Livingstone’s victory as an independent in the first Greater London Authority elections, when he pushed the official Blair and Mandelspin imposed Labour candidate Frank Dobson almost into fourth place.

    I agree with Boris Johnson that the Conservatives are now taking central control too far themselves.

    As for a method of electing the Conservative party leader, I don’t know whether Boris Johnson happened to see it (mild joke here), but there was a sensible article about this by Matthew Parris in the ‘Spectator’ recently.

    His point was that if there is a vote to produce a short list of candidates by the party members, with MPs then to choose them, or vice versa, or an electoral college with both voting separately, that this will often produce a situation where the obvious choice of the party is then overruled by the MPs (or the other way round). That will undermine the new leader’s authority from the start.

    Better to let the MPs select a leader but the members then to vote just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on whether to endorse him.

    In most cases the leader will probably win endorsement from the members in these circumstances, and so begin with authority both in Parliament and in the country.

    The majority of members will probably only reject the MPs’ choice if it seems way out of line. I think that even in the fissiparous Parliamentary Conservative Party, the loser candidate in the election among the MPs would think twice before openly campaigning for the party in the country to reject the MP’s decision, in normal circumstances.

    The MPs are unlikely to elect someone whom they know to be so out of touch with what most party members want that they risk an embarrassing rejection. In consequence, even if not everyone’s first choice, the new leader will begin with authority and without prolonging divisions in the party.

  10. Firstly;I believe the next election should have been planned even before the results of the last one had been announced. Long term planning is essential for successful future Government .
    However; the basic tenor of this blog was, I believe, “How to breed poodles”.
    I contend that what this Party needs is less of a poodle, and more of a Rottweiler. When I look at recent Tory contenders for the Downing Street Address, in particular IDS, I am reminded of Denis Healey’s all too telling description of crossing swords with Geoffrey Howe: “Like being worried by a dead sheep.” In contrast was that young Lochinvar, William Hague, whose bravura performances at the despatch box were second to none, and combined conviction and wit in often bruising encounters with B. Liar. He was thought to be too bald; too young and too inexperienced, and his chouce of wardrobe questionable: baseball cap and all:how fickle , shallow and shortsighted were ,and indeed are, the public! His is the type of rhetoric we need if the Reformed Conservative party is to forge ahead. Boris should be appointed Shadow Foreign Sec.: he has all the qualities; and indeed experience, required for that post.
    Michael Howard was another exception to the “dead sheep” syundrome; but he came with a reputation of,” Having something of the night about him”, and the added burden of some heavy Party mistakes as excess baggage: the Poll Tax alone will suffice. We don’t need a poodle, miniature or standard, for the job ahead, we need a bulldog; a mastiff; a person of substance: a person of universal Party acceptability: one without too many foibles. In short someone with presence and charisma : certainly someone in whom the Electorate can trust . If it were not for his predilection for Europe, I might even suggest the ale supping, hush puppy wearing, hail fellow well met Ken Clarke, but thereby hangs a tail,(sic):he is too old ! Rubbish! Was Churchill too old?
    Unfortunately, we can now hear and see our politicians, as opposed to those times before radio and T.V.: this makes for a type of fan club atmosphere, where candidates are judged by how they look rather than how they perform: in short; their real substance. I cannot imagine how Benjamin Disraeli, ‘Dizzy’ to his contemporaries, would have fared had his looks been his only attribute.
    Away with talk of poodles, leave that to the Government and George Dubbya. Let loose the dogs of war.

  11. Full marks Boris for the content of this article. I fully expected the party to kick Rev Blair out in the election and feel the Tories will win next time out. However another messy leader elctionship and this pc selection nonsense is not the way forward.People need to know that tories are genuine and not new labour lite. We need a party of honesty who are not afraid to say it as it is.
    Personally if you decide not to run i feel David Davies is the man for the job. Clarke has the shadow of Hesletine hanging over him. Some of us will not forget nor forgive Tarzan for 1990.
    The party need open debate and all MP’s need to have their own opinions.
    As they say a team is made up of 11 individuals.
    Lets get behind Davies and forward to Government!

  12. I take a different angle on this. The people elect MP’s to represent them in the legislature. In a free society, the “separation of powers” between executive (the government), legistature (Parliament) and the judiciary (judges) is very important to prevent the concentration of power which results in tyrrany.

    Labour MP’s are not fulfilling their constitutional function at present because they are taking orders from their leaders. That is why poor legislation goes through unchecked against the beliefs of the rank and file Labour MP’s in many cases. The discipline imposed by the Government through their Whips is subverting the constitution. Without that discipline (which has gone way too far – to the point of barging people physically into the lobby not of their choice on occasion) there would be changing alliances across party lines in the Commons on key issues, rather than mindless voting on party lines.

    The Conservative Party operates the same whipping system out of and (if it ever gets back) in government. In principle, I would be quite happy for the Parliamentary Party to choose their leader. To preserve mystique it would be best done behind closed doors in the non-fug of smoke-free rooms. The party activists would then be (as they were for much of the Party’s life) a “fan club” or “support group” for the Parliamentary Party.

    However, this would only work on the basis that the MP’s would not submit mindlessly to the whip. Where are the recalcitrant, opinionated members of the Conservative backbenches? The leader should be forced to lead by bringing MPs along with him or her, not by diktat. If nothing else it would be the proper constitutional way to “road test” proposed policies. MP’s should be in touch with their electors and be able to fulfil the function now performed by “focus groups”

    The farce over ID cards (a get out of jail card for the Party, if properly used) is a prime example. MH did not listen, but used party discipline to demonstrate his political manhood.

    If independent-minded (nay bloody-minded) MP’s cannot be relied upon (as may sadly be the case) then I would prefer the Party at large to choose the leader; not because they would choose Boris, but because they would submit the leadership to control by an unwhipped non-poodle like body of party members.

    The first option (properly implemented) would however not only be constitutionally correct but much to be preferred. Absent a written constitution, the only guarantee of an Englishman’s fundamental freedoms is his Parliament. Recent events prove that “guarantee” no longer works. We are losing liberties month by month and MP’s do nothing. Even Boris “forgot” to vote against ID cards.

  13. So good Mac, right on. Esp agree with the Hague comment but image, sadly, does make a difference. His voice drones and I wouldn’t let him kiss my baby. Why do middle aged politicians feel obliged to kiss the offspring of women they don’t know? I want to hear what they intend to do not watch them make vague PC gestures and cetainly not watch them press flesh or suck face. Even Boris.

    I was informed recently that it was a Johnson who foiled the gunpowder plot. Perhaps it could be a Johnson who foils B.Liars plan to sell us down the european river, if only he’d stand.

    If MP’s propose, say, two candidates and members vote. That could be like deciding to take an arranged marriage with Nick Bateman or Prince Edward. The clear choice is someone who would win a general election and that is obviously Boris.

    C’mon Boris, stop being coy. You’re just teasing us you big tart!

  14. You are so direct Jaq, you make my comments sound airy-fairy by comparison.I do see what you mean though. There is a history of kissing children, and it seems to be expected: it’s a right of passage since time immemorial: it’s what budding politicians do best.

  15. You’re so right Mac – Jaq is magnificently direct – really! You should have seen her when I met her at the House of Commons this week. She turned up with a cheery “Hello!” in her elegant black minidress suit, then saw the taciturn security guards and made a remark about how miserable they looked. I secretely laughed, as only a moment earlier they had dismissed a minor request I had and that very thought had come to mind too——- Gold award to Jaq !!!

  16. Oh dear, Melissa. Just written my first letter(below) to The Speccie. Is this a sign of incipient lunacy? Bit off message, doesn’t concern the private grief eloquently unpacked in Boris’s editorial, but rather another article in that week’s edition by one of my favourite nutcases, so do bear with us.

    I know Boris won’t publish it (Go Ahead, Punk…)so do forgive the shameless self-indulgence.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: kevin b
    Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2005 6:58 AM
    Subject: P Johnson Disses Darwin

    Sir: Monsignor Paul Johnson (And Another Thing, 21 May) grandly opines that there are six weaknesses in that dodgy Darwinian theory of natural selection. However, he teases the gentle reader by alluding only to its (alleged) historical weakness and leaves the other five occluded in a Cloud of Unknowing.

    Would the fiery-haired Sage care to illuminate us benighted souls in his next column? I can only surmise that he will be calling for the teaching of Creationism to be imported from Texas to our schools – perhaps initially to those Christian City Academies so favoured by New Labour (and the ‘Opus Dei’ Minister for Education, Ms Ruth Kelly)?

    [On second thoughts, I’d suggest cutting the gratuitous reference to Opus Dei. Can’t be too careful if we are to believe Mr Dan Brown in ‘The Da Vinci Code’…]

  17. Not good to leave a reader in a ‘cloud of knowing’ – perhaps all the unpublished letters could be posted here… would be interesting

  18. In my defense (?) I looked at the security guards and said “good grief it can’t be that bad, cheer up you lot :-)” sadly my winning smile lost 🙁 they did all have miserable faces, but I would like to say hello to the sweetie with the big gun.

    Kevin I think the Opus Dei comment is spot on – an organisation who is happy to twist the truth, lie and even kill to satisfy thier own ambitions and subjugate ‘the people’.

    Great invite for unpublished letters Melissa. I learned in The House that MP’s shouldn’t refuse to see thier constituents – mine did: New Labour! I await the letters with interest, and thank you Boz and Melissa for this forum.

  19. jaq

    Thank you. I speak from not-at-all bitter experience, the blighters having tried to recruit me at the age of 14 by targeting the local Catholic (Jesuit! Give Me A Child Until He Is 7, etc.) secondary school. Cardinal Hume, Maximum Respect and bless him and his little purple cotton socks, read them the Riot Act around 1980 and they no longer recruit kids under 18. (That shouty man Msgr Escriva, who founded the Friends of Franco Brigade, is now a saint and Hume isn’t. Go figure, as our American chums say.)

    I’d like to know how many politicians apart from Ruth Kelly are associated with the Dei Today (thanks Matthew Parris for that one). Even Ms Kelly has changed her story about whether she is a member but as there are at least 4 levels of membership we’re in murky waters anyway.

    While I have a soft spot for Buddhism (a religion without God), I tend to agree with the Hitch (Christopher, not Peter the Bonkers) on this one: Religion is “the most toxic of foes” combining “human egotoism and stupidity”, even if his Islamophobia is hard to take. That’s ex-Trots for you (Give Me A Student Until He Is Pissed, etc.)

    Anyway, jaq, what was the occasion for your visit to the Mother of All Parliamnets?

    Now I’d better stop giving Boris all this stuff pro bono and put it on my own nascent blog.

    Toodle pip!

  20. I’d like to be flippant (as is my wont) and say that sitting in Bozzas chair was the closest I’d get to his (Briget Jones voice) gorgeous bottom, but I’d be lying as I have never seen his bottom, or his Hamlet.

    My visit was to see The House of Commons and have a girly gossip with Melissa which I enjoyed immensly. I would recommend a tour of the houses of parliament to anyone. It really was incredible: beautiful and informative. I strongly believe that form and function can also be beautiful – look at concorde. In fact, if you consider concorde and Iron Bridge then the best solutions just are beautiful. And should be. Ceremony is also very important. We should ignore history at our peril.

    (Did you know that the most pleasing shape to man is the spline curve? Women are made of spline curves.)

    I was impressed by the gifts from all nations in the commonwealth. It is so obvious we don’t need to be a state of united europe. We already have a place in the world.

  21. jaq

    Ah, this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. A Woman After My Own Anarchic Heart
    -I did mention that Special Understanding that Mrs B and I share, did I not? [Twirls Lesley Phillips-stylee moustache winningly. Hellooh!]

    Hem-hem, anyway – would the spline curve have any relation to the Golden Section and the Luciferan Spiral? There’s some other elements for the next Dan Brown to crow-bar into the next factional best seller.

    Apologies to those who have a low threshold for this sort of conspiracy-theory, artsy-fartsy bollocks. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that Mr Tony doesn’t (arghh, double negative) want to knowe when you’v egot back late after that ill-advised lunch hour or two.

    Don’t go to the Dark Side, folks.

  22. And Another Thing…

    Boris as Hamlet? What a high concept coup, jaq! I have of late, wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth, I say, steady on Old Bean, etc…

    The straw blonde shock of hair and the black dishevelled outfit (courtesy Grieves & Hawkes) will make an effective ensemble as I believe you Vogueish wimmin say.

    OK, I’ll shut up now. Noblesse oblige and all that.

  23. k.b.
    His outfits are more likely to have been supplied by Boosie and hawkes, I would guess.

  24. Agreed, sir, though the unkind (you know who you are)would say Oxfam.

    With the unashamed hero-worship we seem to be displaying here, surely Bozza’s bandwagon is picking up speed to become an irresistable force? Heck, comrades, I might even steel myself to vote Tory for the first time. Move over Ken C, there’s a new dude in town…

  25. k.b.
    Oxfam cannot hold a Hanukka candle to the delights of the Charity emporia which are “All Aboard”.

    Boris’s attributes are manifold, but , I fear , do not stretch to, ‘Mannequin of the year’. His mental capacity is boundless, no PC Plod is he, but, sadly, his sartorial elegance is non-existent.I believe, as I’ve said before, that , whilst still Shadow Minister for the Arts,he posed for that Tracy Enims opus , ” The unmade bed”, which must surely add to his very stature , and indeed charm,as a non-conformist intellectual icon.
    Remember Michael Foot? Whether one agreed with his politics or not , his Mangle Wurzel impression was brilliant, but most important of all, his clarity of thought,his performance in the chamber was, at least to some , electrifying: an eye opener for those whose perception ended at his obvious lack of a tailor, or valet. Never mind the qality: feel the depth,and the same goes for Boris .

  26. Mac

    Absolutely agree with you about Michael Foot. People always trot out Kaufman’s line about the Longest Suicide Note in History (Labour Manifesto 1983), but Foot and Benn are 2 of the most distinguished parliamentary orators of the latter C20th. I’ve always admired Foot’s writings and particularly his refusal to Big Up the New Labour Project, unlike the likes of Kinnock. Long may he flourish.

  27. Kevin – I like you ruling the blogosphere airwaves here! long may it last

  28. Melissa

    You are way too kind. As long as I keep taking the meds I will not shirk from posting.

    Looking forward at somepoint to taking Boris on mano a mano: Anarcho-syndicalist vs Tory Libertarian. But isn’t it strange that many of us contributing to this blog from all corners of the political spectrum (mix that metaphor) probably have more in common than we would share with some ghastly Blairite apparatchik?

    I knew Mr B was a man after my heart when I discovered we had mutual fondness for The Clash. Mr Tony probably likes Oasis – remember him nominating Ivanhoe as his favourite book on Desert Island Discs when he hadn’t even read the bloody thing? Then someone noticed that the Beeb had an adaptation of the book slated for later in the year…QED

  29. Mr B as in Mr Bliar? His favourite anything changes depending on what he thinks you want to hear. I wouldn’t trust him if he told me the sun sets in the west.

    I can vouch for Boris’s clothing. I had a good look at it and it was perfectly acceptable. His feet however, are another matter. And ladies they are not big….and they are not small. If I had to say anything they tend to be on the wide side. Never mind the quality Mac??

  30. Tell it as it is Jaq . Your paean to the man on his vacation was direct and to the point, as your usual contributions show. However, in all honesty, I can’t imagine waxing lyrical about Boris’s plates; so no encumeum on his oxfords from me , attractive as you make them sound.
    Possibly Kevin was referring to Boris when he talked of what I believe is a group,although I may well be wrong. It could easily have been the clash between tie and suit , which happened at his last appearance on QT. Melissa was certainly amongst those who noticed it at the time.

  31. ‘paean? wos dat den?! Seriously though folks, refering to my offering* as such makes me think of DOCTOR Fox. Musn’t forget the Dr bit now must we, even when p****d in Paris. Anyone in their forties who feels the need to hang out with students should er (oops Tory site) obviously be praised for their inclusive campaigning methods.

    *Actually I stole it from Don Henley (Henley? geddit? oh per-lease)

  32. Mac –

    The Clash, like the Beatles before them – you remember them? Goood – are a popular beat combo of some distinction, beloved of 40-something’s like me and, incredible though it might seem to the unwary, Boris. I like nothing better before sallying forth of a morning to stick on ‘Guns of Brixton’ and crank the volume up to 11 to get the old circulation going again. You might care for a sampling of the lyrics?

    “When they [the Old Bill] kick down your front door
    How you gonna come
    With your hands on your head
    Or on the trigger of your gun…”

    Probably doesn’t happen much on the Front Line in Chelsea (or Crouch End where I hang out, like Deborah Ross of the Indy and Speccie) but you get the general drift.

    jaq – if you’re going to get pissed, it might as well be in Paree. Not so much fun here, down the
    Rat & Parrot. (Mine’s a pint of Merlot, stout yeoman)

  33. Rat & Parrot? Sounds like a pub in Coventry I never went to: The Bug and Black Bat.

    A pint of merlot? (hic!) never toucher stff

  34. Viewers of ‘Sideways’ (out on DVD), a splendidly sharp but warm American comedy-drama, will recall the scene where the wine snob played by Paul G threatens to walk if any of his companions at dinner has the temerity to order merlot.

    There is a scurrillous but apparently well-attested story that the Beckhams once dined at a restaurant not a beercan’s throw from Beckham Towers: they had to send out the waiter to the local offie when said establishment strangely failed to include Blue Nun liebfraumilch on its wine list.

    The undeserving rich, some might say, although at least they’ve worked for their money…unlike some. (Bring it on.)

  35. Blue Nun! Heavens yes I remember Blue Nun, and Cherry B’s, anyone remember Cherry B’s? They were disgusting. I thought they both went out with oxford bags and those jumpers with three stars on. Think about it folks – Ian Hislop might have worn one of those….but did he impress a girl with Blue Nun?

  36. THe Beckhams ?Plural? Earned / worked for their money ? How? He might , at some stretch of the imagination, have earned a bob or two , but she?

  37. Mac – As noted in another post somewhere, you don’t seem to have your finger of the pulse of popular beat music (“And who are The Rutles?”).

    I believe that Mrs Beckham is a chanteuse associated with Grrrl Power, a subversive group of hairy Marys who use musique concrete alarmingly cut with deep acid bungalow as an all-out aural assault on the petit-bourgeois charts. Or somefing. Help me out here, Jaq.

  38. Aah! We meet again, chacun a son gout when it comes to listening to favourite ‘music’.For example; I prefer Mozart’s mellifluous music, it is timeless , unlike some of the cacophonous concoctions offered today. Still , as I said before ; variety and all that…..All this macho building talk in the offerings of today’s music scene; concrete, bungalow and garage for example makes me reach for the sal volatile bottle, which I keep in my bedside locker, so the nurse can hand it to me when necessary.I feel faint . NURSE !

  39. Yes Mac? you called? please don’t tweak my suspenders it’s against hospital policy.

  40. Kevin – Mrs Beckham aka posh spice (oxymoron?) was the true embodiment of the section known as ‘chorus’ in the once popular girl group The Spice Girls, now defunct. Thier catchphrase was, as you so eloquently put it, ‘Grrrl power’ not ‘jigajig ahhh’ as some had mistakenly believed. This message of emancipation was primarily marketed at girls aged around 12 yrs old. And long may they be emancipated from the yoke of erm… help me out here kevin…12 yr old boys?

    Many prominent men have found themselves very publicly covered in spice girls; Prince Charles for example. Sadly not Boris Johnson, to my knowlege. Hopefully, with rumours of the group re-forming, this oversite will be rectified as soon as maybe. I’m confident that Boris’s skin is tingling at the thought of being covered in a writhing blanket of, the now more experienced, spice ladies.

  41. DOCTOR! The patient’s tachycardic. Crash(?) trolley: ! Charge to 160! Stand clear…. He’s in VF . Shocking! Well he always was.

  42. we have the power, we can rebuild him! well done team he’s back in the land of the living and out of danger. What do you mean don’t give him anything to eat or drink it’s far too expensive?

  43. Boris is a powderblue princess who transgresses the ether using a combination of soft wit and clever facade. Keep it up.

  44. Nick: you really crack me up.Short , sweet, and to the point! Don’t ever , please, become anything different.

  45. “Boris is a powderblue princess who transgresses”

    Fasteddielove – Boris Johnson may be many things but he is not a powderblue princess. He may not be terribly tall but what there is of him looked all male to me and… true blue please.

    Perhaps fewer mushrooms in your omelette?

  46. Gosh, these boards are really cooking with gas, man.

    Like Boris, a quantum leap forward in evolution? (But professor he’s wearing a blue rosette, we’ve never come across a brain this size in previous specimens, it just isn’t possible…)

    jaq: like the 6 million dollar man quote. Ah, they don’t make ’em like that anymore.

  47. Mac: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. WAM! There’s a general awareness since Shaffer’s Amadeus that Mozza had F***ing Tourette’s Syndrome but one doctor believes that he also had Asperger’s. (Step forward Dr Michael Fitzgerald, author The Genesis of Artistic Creativity – artistic=autistic?) So Mozza was an Aspie. Ludwig too.

    How about that for a DoH public info ad on Asperger’s? (And on the science front: Bill Gates, Einstein, the list goes on. And on.)

    Perhaps it could follow the lines of the current radio ad about depression addressed to employers -‘He suffers from depression. Would you employ this man? But what if you knew his name was Winston Churchill?’

    Down, Black Dog.

  48. No one going to chase me then? That’s a bit woof.

    Oh well, I’ve only one thing to say about Black Dog:

    Hey hey baby when u type that way
    watch the honey drip, can’t keep away..

  49. I say jaq old girl steady on Mrs B might read this and then it’s back to sleeping in the Humber again (the car not the river Mrs B’s really not that brutal).

    Teething problems now under control lashings of Calpol did the trick. My blog is now open for business. Velcome bienvenue…

  50. Correction: I have grievously misrepresented the views of Dr Michael Fitzgerald (Trinity College, Dublin) on Mozart’s Asperger’s. Sorry.

    Dr F writes that Mozza may posibly have been an Aspie but is more like to have been a depressive –
    yet another luminary stalked nay dogged by the Black Dog – and sufferer of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD -Give that man a Ritalin tab).

    So now you know.

    As for Mac….

  51. whadya mean “steady on, old girl” – it’s a bastardised qoute from Black Dog. And you congratulate yourself on being Rock cultured.

    Tuh, honestly, you just can’t get the staff!

  52. Completely lost the plot there, jaq. And a Nick Drake track a well. I’m mortified and crave your forgiveness.

    M’lady Rap

    Please don’t send me
    Down to the cellar
    Where there’s Boris and Bela
    I’ll be careful next time
    I won’t do the crime

    O bollocks to that
    I’m really not a prat
    But a Cat in a Hat

    (er, gets surreal after this, catch you later-)

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