The knuckle draggers hate May's manifesto. Splendid. You can't teach an old dogma new tricks, just send it to the vet

21 May 2017 at 05:39

Like the overwhelming majority of the voting public I haven’t read the Conservative or for that matter, any, election manifesto. They are window dressing. The various bribes and threats will be spun to destruction by all sides of whatever the argument is. Which is basically, Corbyn is dangerously crap and May dully adequate. That’s probably a little unkind, but it’s mood music and flavour that counts. This election is about leadership and nothing else.

I do feel a bit sorry for the press. Weeks of being corralled into soulless factories. Rehearsed and reheated questions. With North Korean applause from ministers desperate to keep their shared mid range family saloons and wide eyed Teenage Tory Mutants whom one day might just make it to the heady heights of the Parish Council.

Another reason a try and avoid reading manifestos is because it’s far more fruitful to see what is on offer through the eyes of the media. It’s a waste of time reading the fine print, because unless there is a hidden pledge to put to the sword the first male born child, it’s contents are not going adorn the Mail or the Sun. But the Mayan manifesto, or the bits of it that have surfaced, is rather cheering. I don’t mean in policy terms, but in mood music. The knuckle draggers of the right are very confused. Cavemen brains can only take so much detail before they have to go out into the jungle and kill tea for the lady wife. They have a simple test. Would St Margaret have approved? Is May one of us? Is she sound? And the poor dears just can’t work it out. They are horrified at what they think is statism by stealth. Caps on energy prices? That’s anti business. Let the market rip. Interfere in people’s lives? Let them fuck it up. It’s not a matter for government. One permanent secretary told me that he thought she was a Heathite. And now the press have coined the phrase, Red Tory. Both very wide of the mark.

I just don’t think you can pigeon hole May. What I found most enlightening about her latest speech is that she condemned looking at issues though the prism of an ism. You can’t teach and old dogma new tricks, so put it quietly and respectfully to sleep. To my mind this is proper political pragmatism. Many more people than we think find things more of a struggle than we middle classes are aware of. They work hard. They love their kids. They respect their partners. But still somehow they manage to be screwed by someone. Usually a faceless entity. The Philip Greenian doctrine of company management. Banks who make it more and more difficult to get a mortgage. Pay day loans at deeply immoral rates of interests. Crap schools. And energy companies who just take the piss as well as your money. What May is saying is, ‘I get it. Trust me and I will fight for you.’ People resonate with that. It is a powerful message if it is sincere. And I believe that she is.

Well, she has had her wobbly weekend. Lynton Crosby will be making it brutally clear that the party must stay on message and stop going into panic and self doubt the moment there is the first whiff of cordite. So forget the manifesto. It’s served its purpose and is yesterday’s chip paper. Back to the message. Leadership, leadership, leadership.

Oh, and thank you Pippa. The tabloids are far more interested in your bum then they are about opinion polls. With a bit of luck Harry will announce his engagement to whomsoever he is currently shagging and Katie Price might just have another divorce,/marriage/visit to rehab or a baby. Probably the bloody lot.

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