“Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It’ll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields… and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?”
That’s Sam Gamgee (the ultimate Tory cap-doffer) of The Lord of the Rings.
Now, tell, Malcolm: what was it, in the following, that nudged your memory of that, when you read this:
My old friend Bruce Anderson has penned what sounds like an extraordinary piece for this week’s issue of The Spectator. He has attacked a Conservative leader, and seemingly in strong terms. “Never has a government been better at exasperating its own supporters; rarely has a government been so politically inept,” he writes. Bruce is a friend of the Prime Minister’s. It will be interesting to see if he has used any caveats later in the piece, such as saying that it is not Cameron’s fault or emphasising that it can all be turned around. We’ll see.
It should worry Cameron that such a loyalist and good friend holds that view, as he is someone who has supported Cameron from even before the days when his leadership campaign consisted of David and Samantha Cameron, the Goves and three other people. While Bruce has some modernising friends, he often has good instincts for what the wider Tory tribe will tolerate. He understands Tory history and the shires.
That’s Iain Martin, a young’un, but already a doyen of the Telegraph. Any other mental disturbance, such as the title of that piece, In the Tory modernising bunker it’s all getting a bit Berlin, April 1945, is entirely your own problem.
On Malcolm’s second thoughts, it’s obviously that final word: shires.
There’s the problem!
The Tory Party has entrenched itself in the green suburbs and the counties of old England. It’s been a long process;, but it was John Major — MP for Huntingdon, not surprisingly — who put it in to words:
A country of long shadows on county cricket grounds, warm beer, green suburbs, dog lovers, and old maids cycling to holy communion through the morning mist.
A Malcolmian humilation
Aw, shucks! Malcolm remembers it well!
Look at those surnames. You could make the register of Malcolm’s primary school there.
The Sea Scouts lined up at Wells War Memorial, to be inspected by the Earl of Leicester, with his Home Guard medal. The Great Man doing the proper thing, stopping half-way down the line, to address a whippersnapper (who promptly saluted, on instruction, and responded, again as instructed): “Yes, y’r Lordship!”.
Thereafter followed, not contempt, but a kind of Hummph! from his Dear Old Dad.
Sadly for Malcolm’s self-esteem, Dear Old Dad, one generation from the 1912 Yorkshire miners’ strike, and despite being an inveterate reader of the Beaverbrook press, held no admiration for those as has dominance o’er us. A Dear Old Dad, who, moreover, had done his bit up in the Mediterranean and up the Aegean in an MTB, while other didn’t.
Does this really need explaining?
- The Tories remain a party which believes the fox-hunters deserve priority, while suburbanites are wakened, once a year in the early hours, by the urban vixen in orgasmic howl, and marvel they are still so close to nature.
- The Tories remain a party where half the parliamentary vote goes against single-sex marriage, while most of us either are or live alongside, by the standards of Mother Church, irregular liaisons.
- The Tories remains party where Euroscepticism is the norm, while most of us work for multi-nationals, take our holidays in EU countries, and actually enjoy an evening at the local Spanish, Greek or Italian restaurant.
Not unless the Tories leave the Shire.