Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life

Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life

Article excerpt

Listening to the BBC news and current affairs programmes, you'd think that Britain is a socialist republic. Which is odd because my entire extended family, on both my mother's side (smallholders) and on my father's (urban lower-middle class), is without exception monarchist conservative. From time to time there are rumours that somebody or other has cast their vote for the LibDems, or is thinking about doing so, but we laugh and put this down to an excess of sublimated sexuality rather than political conviction.

We have a short branch of the family which is staunch Hitlerite Nazi, but no party's manifesto, certainly not the BNP's, ever comes anywhere close to expressing their exciting vision for Britain, so presumably they don't bother to vote. And we have one Marxist communist in the family: a former printer and political organiser who was active in all that unpleasantness all those years ago at Grunwick.

Everyone agrees that this man is the nicest and most genuine person of the lot of us, and the exception that proves the rule, therefore our pity for his Utopian beliefs is mingled with admiration for his character.

Are we, I wonder, a sort of minority enclave? Most, if not all, of our interfamily telephone conversations descend eventually into incredulous exchanges about this unexpectedly relentless assault by European socialism on our English values, or about the most recent example of political correctness gone mad. We simply can't believe what's happening; or why it's happening; or why everybody, including the Conservative party, has rolled over so easily. If each of us is standing, as some believe, at the head of a long line of ancestors, carrying their hopes, ours must all be looking at each other and scratching their heads - not least of all at the hypocrisy of it all. 'Mapinduzi inaendelea!' is always my jocular analysis, if asked for one. It's a Kiswahili political slogan, meaning 'the revolution continues!'.

So imagine our complete surprise and dismay when my brother, who is a policeman, now turns round and says he's going to vote Labour from now on. A lifelong Tory voter, my brother is so incandescent about the Winsor report, and its recommendations for police reform, and the government's glad acceptance of these, that he is already looking forward to being first into the booth on polling day to cast his vote. Prime Minister David Cameron calling a press conference outside No. 10 and saying he's going to vote Labour from now on would have been less surprising.

I've never seen my brother so angry. …

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