Friday, October 15, 2010

Tom Harris and Lady Thatcher

It’s easy to see why Tom Harris failed to win a place in the Shadow Cabinet. He is, after all, amusing, thoughtful and intelligent. If political parties were run on the basis of doing what their opponents least wanted there is surely no question that people like Harris, John McTernan and Alistair Darling would be playing prominent roles in the opposition. But then, if political parties were run on the basis of doing what their opponents least wanted, David Miliband would be Leader of the Opposition.

It’s something of a dilemma for partisan spectators like me: should we be pleased that Labour is so ostentatiously handicapping itself in opposition, or disappointed that the best Labour MPs are on the backbenches?

Anyway, this wasn’t supposed to be a paean of praise to some unwashed Glaswegian socialist. It was supposed to be a reflection on Tom’s latest post: Considering the Iron Lady.

Last night I ReTweeted a message from Peter Watt, wishing Margaret Thatcher a heavily caveated happy 85th birthday. The response from some party members, particularly on my Facebook site, has been pretty extreme: “evil” and “hate” were used in abundance by my detractors.

Thatcher is a totemic hate-figure for the left.  The mere mention of her name is enough to drive many of them into a frothing lunatic rage.  Which made me think: who is the equivalent hate figure for the right?  You’d think it would be Blair, after all he trounced the right for a decade, and had the same sort of contempt for his opponents as Lady Thatcher.  But the real source of Blair Derangement Syndrome is on the left – often among the same people who suffer from Thatcher Derangement Syndrome.  Gordon Brown?  Well, that’s probably closer, but I really don’t see the name of Gordon Brown raising anything more than a shudder in 20 years time.

Are the right just worse at resentment than the left?  To me, as to Tony Greig, a grudge is nothing more than a place to park your car – is this representative?


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