Sunday 21 April 2019

Tom Peck: 'Tories' real problem is soon there'll be no one stupid enough to vote for them'

Tory MP Mark Francois is confronted by anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray outside the Houses of Parliament, London. Photo: Reuters/Simon Dawson
Tory MP Mark Francois is confronted by anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray outside the Houses of Parliament, London. Photo: Reuters/Simon Dawson

Tom Peck

For most political parties, when you commission a report asking why young people hate you and it comes back saying it's because too many of them have been to university these days and so aren't stupid enough to vote for you any more, it might be time to panic.

But, fortunately, this is the British Conservative Party we're talking about. And why panic, when you can just have a leadership contest instead?

Seriously, I don't write this stuff, I just type it out. There's a new Conservative think tank in town, called 'Onward', for Tory MPs who self-identify as trendy but must - must - be over 40 and ideally be into parkour, karaoke and apps named after themselves.

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They wanted to know more about their youth problem, so they commissioned the best young political analyst in town, James Kanagasooriam, to research it for them.

And his conclusion was that, unfortunately, thanks to Tony Blair, too many young people have been to university, and so have got nothing in common with the Conservative Party any more.

Kanagasooriam singles out particular problems, like the party's proud history of consistently being on the wrong side of every social issue there's ever been - gay rights, assisted dying, that kind of thing.

Oh, and these vexatious young people also absolutely hate Brexit, what with it taking their rights away, limiting their life opportunities and making them poorer, with absolutely zero upside whatsoever for anyone.

So Matt Hancock, he of app fame, Brexiteer Penny Mordaunt, last seen keeping a straight face and telling a room full of journalists that "Brexit was a noble act" (good luck selling that to the young'uns, Penny), and Tom Tugendhat, a sort of David Cameron-lite figure who imagines he can guide himself into 10 Downing Street through the force of self-love alone, gathered at a panel event to discuss it all.

But rather than actually dealing with their massive existential crisis, surely it would just be easier to all audition, one by one, for the chance to be the sixth consecutive Conservative prime minister to be smashed to pieces by internal rows over Europe?

Who can blame them? The voters being too educated to vote for you is a real thorny one, and probably best ignored. Education is one of the hardest things to strip away. Actively making people stupider is not easy, though credit to Mark Francois and his never-ending media round, they are trying their very best (more on him shortly).

We can only see this terrible crisis through the prism of the climactic ending of Graham Swift's Norfolk-based novel 'Waterland'.

The lock-keeper's somewhat limited eldest son, affectionately known as "the potato-head", is usually to be found in fields having sex with his motorcycle, so imagine the lock-keeper's shock on returning one day, to see the potato-head sitting by the canal side with a friend, being introduced to actual books.

"Don't educate him!" he screams. "Don't learn 'im how to read!" But it's too late, and is now merely a matter of time before the potato-head learns, via his dead mother's diaries, that his struggles in life may be down to the fact that mum and dad were secretly brother and sister, and promptly dives beneath the water and never comes up again.

It's Tony's fault! It's all Tony's fault! He learned 'em how to read! He learned 'em how to read!

And so we turn at this opportune moment, from one potato-head to another. While Hancock and co were having their miniature preening contest, it is unfortunate timing that about 40 yards away, there was to be found the hitherto unknown and noisy Mark Francois, who appears to have been incubated inside Brexit itself and is now feasting upon it, like an especially rotund bluebottle on a giant dog turd.

Again, I don't script this, this is exactly how it happened.

"The Tory party used to be something you thought about when you got your first pay cheque. Now it's something you think about when you get your first winter fuel allowance," said Matt Hancock.

Not a bad one-liner, and at that precise moment, Francois, all of 40 yards away, was bellowing about D-Day to an audience of Brexit-loving Tory pensioners.

Speaking behind a lectern with a picture of Margaret Thatcher affixed directly at his groin, Francois had a message for the European Union.

"If you try to hold us in against our will, you will be facing Perfidious Albion on speed!" he growled, his chins and midriff uniting in a brief tremolando of furious anger.

That is the strategy now, to scare the European Union into kicking the UK out early, with threats of acting like tiny children, mucking up their budgets and their elections, vetoing their policies.

A once great country, reduced to an international laughing stock by a political party that's emerging into a world in which there'll be no one left who's stupid enough to vote for them any more. (© Independent News Service)

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