Saturday, November 28, 2009

Shotgun Socialism

Great piece by Nick Foulkes in yesterday's Evening Standard about 'shotgun socialism'. New Labour stalwarts Peter Mandelson and Cherie Blair were reported in Charles Moore's diary in the Spectator to have been at a shoot at Waddesdon - one of Britain's grandest stately homes. Both Bleugh and Mandy deny having picked up a gun let alone shot down a feathered friend. But the fact remains: a socialist of the 20th century would rather have been run down by a tractor than spotted in plus fours on the moors.

But Mandy and Bleugh are quite different socialist creatures, although, like unhappy families, in their own way. Cherie is a classic aspirational, inverted snob. Addicted to power and money, she simply wants to do whatever keeps her in the realms of the Rich and Powerful Great and the Good. Not only does she trade on her status as an ex-PM's wife, she wants to create the illusion that she is also a Lady of the Manor with a long and glorious history by buying up antiques from auction houses around the country. I can't picture Arthur Scargill bidding on a French dresser, can you? She makes my blood boil not because she buys her own furniture (the famous put-down made by a senior Tory of Michael Heseltine - proper posh people inherit everything, you see) but because she is not true to herself. In fact, she is so far from herself she wouldn't recognise herself if she gave herself a stinging slap.

Mandy, on the other hand, has never made a secret of his love of champagne, grand houses and fine yachts. For all his devilish smirks (and unelected status), people rather grudgingly admire his ability to get things done. From the start, he's let everyone know that he wants power and he's going to get it. In short, he's an operator - that's why he was at the shoot.

It is this last point which Bleugh and Mandy have in common. They know that posh is back (see PB blogs passim). When the Tories get in next year, it's the Lords who live in statelies (and rent their grounds out to big banks for shooting days) who will be the new powerbase. Neither of them want to be left on the side of the beaters. It's a brace of pheasants for them.

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