What Just Happened

Let me start out by saying that this post is not for anyone who might be reading it. Or if there are a few of you for whom it resonates I bet you haven’t let your colleagues know which way you swing.

I can’t quite remember what changed me, in the 1980s, from politically middle of the road to rather right. (What is now called “extreme” probably, although incorrectly.)

Some of it will have been being in academia and seeing the tenured lefties, with salary courtesy of the taxpayer, stroll in for coffee at 11am, do an hour’s work, then have lunch, and then go off home again. While I, with an aspirational-class work ethic, would be putting in the long hours. I suspect that I was one of the few state-educated academics in my department.

Or it could have been the “high table” dinners at which the same lefties would try to show off rather unpleasantly and put others down. I quickly noticed that they were indistinguishable from each other, and that the non-academic guests were invariably more interesting than their hosts.

And while canvassing for the Conservatives for the 1987 election I found that you could tell which way a person would vote as soon as they opened their door/mouth. Well dressed and posh (and often tall) then it would be left wing. Poorer and less posh would be Conservative.

I recall the 1992 election clearly. I was at a conference in the UK. A lot of us stayed up watching the results as they came in. I was the only Conservative among all my Labour and “Liberal” colleagues. (I use “…” because over the decades they’ve changed their name quite a few times. But they still wear yellow cardigans.) It was an interesting experience. But there were no hard feelings between winners and losers the next day.

Things are vastly different nowadays. Everyone in my professional life, on wilmott.com and at my lectures knows which way I incline. To the right and for Brexit. But in private I have to keep quiet. I don’t care what people think of me personally. I have been sufficiently successful that no one outside of the government and the judiciary has any real power over me so I can say what I like. But that’s not true for my children. If certain parents knew about my beliefs then that would be the end of playdates forever. It’s a common theme among Brexiteers particularly. Even though we made up 52% of voters in the Referendum we often cannot be open about it. We get abused all the time. As I say, I don’t care, but it would affect my children.

If you are in reading this in a bank in the City then you have no idea what I am talking about. You are surrounded by people with the same views as you. Except that you probably aren’t. It’s just that some people daren’t be open about their views for fear of career suicide.

I’m a great fan of Margaret Thatcher. It was always obvious that she was admired by the working class. And for all the right reasons. She and they understood how the world worked. Here are a few quotes, there are many more that resonate with the working man:

“It’s passionately interesting for me that the things that I learned in a small town, in a very modest home, are just the things that I believe have won the election.”

“The facts of life are conservative.”

“Some Socialists seem to believe that people should be numbers in a State computer. We believe they should be individuals. We are all unequal. No one, thank heavens, is like anyone else, however much the Socialists may pretend otherwise. We believe that everyone has the right to be unequal but to us every human being is equally important.”

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money.”

“The choice facing the nation is between two totally different ways of life. And what a prize we have to fight for: no less than the chance to banish from our land the dark, divisive clouds of Marxist socialism and bring together men and women from all walks of life who share a belief in freedom.”

But Thatcher had a problem that meant large parts of the working class would never vote Conservative. And that was the unions and the miners. She did what had to be done. And as a consequence was forever hated by one section of society.

What we have now is a Prime Minister who likewise appeals to the working class, again for all the right reasons. 

However, Boris now has one great advantage that Thatcher didn’t have. He has broken that “red wall.” Even in mining towns people are voting Conservative. This is a phenomenal change. 

We have to thank Corbyn for this. (My £3 as part of toriesforcorbyn has paid off, although it was a bit hairy for a while.) He and his Momentum cult are such disgusting people that the average classical Labour voter had no choice but to vote Conservative. And I am immensely, immensely proud of them. It cannot be easy to change a habit that might have lasted for generations in their families. As long as the sky doesn’t fall in the next few years they will find it easier to vote Tory next time.

Again, if you are a Labour voter with children at an independent school, like so many people I know, then you are absolutely clueless as to what is happening outside your bubble. (Have you noticed how quiet twitter is today? It’s like the zombie apocalypse. Even the red-on-blue abuse has mostly stopped, except for a few luvvies.) 

I expect Boris to be a good and pragmatic Prime Minister. I’m not sure whether he has an “ism” in him though. Perhaps he doesn’t need one. The last two, Blairism and Corbynism, were not great, to say the least. Borisism, or Borism, is a bit clunky anyway. 

Anyway, feel free to insult and abuse me. paul@wilmott.com. Water off a duck’s back. But leave my children out of it.