Page 4, 19th May 1989

19th May 1989
Page 4
Page 4, 19th May 1989 — It all sounds familiar

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It all sounds familiar

Desmond Albrow

THE lace or polities has had a more amusing look recently as the parties show increased signs of wear and tear. The man in the street (shorthand for the prole who is completely ignored except when elections near) must be cheered by it all. I know that I am.

The Tories are going through another of their periods of not so much selling the family silver as dropping it repeatedly when washing and drying up after a family party. They really should leave it to the servants. Mr Ridley and Mr Gummer between them made a terrible hash over the poll tax leaflet although I felt slightly sorry for the boyish, innocentlooking, priggish-sounding Gummer being left all alone by Master Ridley to explain the matter to the Commons. Ridley evidently had a previous engagement at a bird sanctuary and no doubt thought that this was a chance to curry favour with the Greens: a view that anyone with any political nous would regard as strictly for the birds.

No sooner had the RidleyGummer duo left the stage than on to it comes Mr Moore, Social Security Secretary, to tell the nation that the poor are not getting poorer. He relies for this information on what Churchill termed damned statistics. They may, for all that I know, be correct but politically he displayed political ineptitude of Ridleyesque proportions.

It has long been an axiom in British political life that you never tangle unnecessarily with the National Union of Mineworkers, the Brigade of guards or the Catholic Church. To these three should now be added the contemporary poor in Britain.

The Social Democrats, in the person of the bossman himself, has also been in a pretty frivolous mood. Fresh from his party's defeats in the Vale of Glamorgan and in the local elections, Dr David Owen intimates that he would not be averse to serving in a coalition if Neil Kinnock comes to power. Wow! After all the blood sweat and tears has social democracy come to this? How about a fight on the beach, Dr Owen?

And what of the macho Neil? After showing a staggering ignorance of Catholic susceptibilities and then addressing the Bishop of Motherwell as "Mr Devine", he promptly renounces his longheld faith in unilaterism. The nuclear defence question seems destined to smash the Idealistic dreams of Welsh demagogues and power-seekers. Nye Bevan also had eventually to come to terms with reality and soft-soap his audience with his rhetoric of sending a Foreign Secretary naked into the conference chamber.

Kinnock has stood Labour's defence policy on its head and has not been helped by the fatuous explanation of Bryan Gould that Mr K would never press the button. Michael Heselline made the valid point that it seemed strange that when Russian was at her most threatening, Mr Kinnock was all for having no nuclear weapons but when Russia became more benign, Mr Kinnock was all for having them. Strange, indeed.

Kinnock is now offering us a kinder kind of capitalism. Is Thatchock to replace the Butskellism of old? No wonder we are all amused and slightly agog to see what next the Welsh wizard pulls out of his big, fat hat.

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