“Hear the loud alarum bells —”

It’s Edgar Allan, albeit postumously:

Hear the loud alarum bells – 
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune …

There is, Malcolm sincerely believes, a venerable bell somewhere in Essex inscribed:

Success to the Church of England and no enthusiasm!

That dates it to the eighteenth century, when “enthusiasm” amounted to John Wesley’s Methodism.

This all neatly (at least to Malcolm’s contorted mind) equates to Charles Moore’s remarkable column for the Telegraph. In Moore’s case, the message seems to be:

Success to the Tory Party, and no modernisers.

The particular target is Francis Maude, who is the Aunt Sally of the moment:

When I first heard Francis Maude’s suggestion on Sky News that we might all stock up “a bit of extra fuel with a jerry can in the garage”, I did not, I must admit, panic. His remark seemed a little unwise – and you could hear, by the way he immediately began to qualify it, that he thought so too – but I let it pass.

What I was forgetting is that ministerial words about an immediate problem with basics like fuel or food is the only sort of ministerial statement which people believe. It was like when Edwina Currie, the then junior health minister, said in 1988 that most egg production was infected with salmonella. People stopped buying eggs. After Mr Maude spoke, they swarmed to the petrol pumps.

Moore is surely correct in his assumption that the whole “let’s bash Labour by inventing a fuel crisis” ploy was profoundly misconceived and appallingly implemented:

No doubt many people reading this column are happy that Ed Miliband’s and Ed Balls’s dependence on a large trade union should be exposed, but very few, I suspect, appreciate being made into mugs. (And the political effect, of course, is the opposite of that intended: Unite now looks virtuous, and is much better placed to win its demands.)

So this gerrymandering with jerry cans, along with the rows about pasties, dinners for donors and granny taxes, sheds light on the present discontent. People detect selfishness.

So the argument is widened, and neatly so:

As modernisers such as Mr Maude rightly never tire of pointing out, voters judge politicians more on motive than on policy. It may sound an odd thing to say on the day after George Galloway got back into Parliament, but what people crave is authenticity.

Quite what is “authenticity” in politics is debatable. Blair (“I am a pretty straight sort of guy“) tried — and fell spectacularly short. Cameron has proved, in this too, to be the “heir to Blair”. Moore has all of that, and more.

When such as Moore rings an alarum, things are getting desperate:

Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek …

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1 Comment

Filed under Conservative Party policy., Daily Telegraph, David Cameron, Literature, politics, Tories., Trade unions

One response to ““Hear the loud alarum bells —”

  1. Pingback: Alarum bells | Gotcustomers

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