Wednesday 20 November 2013

Why are the Tories in terminal decline in Northern England?

There is a lot of Tory angst at the moment about the party's decline in Northern England. Following on the heels of their death in Scotland they have good reason to be worried. There is nothing strange about the death of the Tory Party in Northern England and they have only themselves to blame for the death rattle that began a generation ago. The first time that either of my parents voted Labour was 1983. I used to tease my dad that he was the only man in the 8th Army who voted for Churchill in 1945, so why did both of them choose Labour in '83? 
Partly it was because I was in the party and had introduced them to Michael Meacher, the local MP for Oldham West, and they liked him. However the main reason is that they regarded Thatcher, Tebbit and the like as scum.

My dad was a labourer at the Mather & Platts engineering factory in Manchester. He was a strong union man and if the Transport and General Workers' Union went on strike he was the first one out the gates. Funnily enough, he always told me that Sir William Mather was a "proper gentleman" and it was obvious that he had a great respect for Sir William as well as Mr Platt. He also had an atavistic loathing for the "jumped up little Hitlers" who were the foremen and charge hands at the factory. Funnily enough, he also had the same respect for his officers in the army that he held for Sir William Mather and the same loathing for the NCOs that he had for the factory foremen.

A lot of this may have been due to the fact that dad won a scholarship to the Manchester Art School in the 1920s and the fee-paying middle class types who were his classmates made his life a misery owing to the fact that he was from Hulme, which was an even bigger slum then than it is today. I once asked him why he did not just stick the nut on one of them as the middle class are essentially nothing more than gob on legs, but that wasn't the way he was wired up. Anyway, he left after a few months and returned to his old school and then did an apprenticeship only to be caught up in the Great Depression. He spent that on the dole interspersed with spells as a barman until the war broke out. Many years later his brother told me that there were two scholarship boys a year at that art school and the other one went on to help design the Festival of Britain in 1951. However, he was a type, not a working class lad from Hulme.

In the army my dad was treated with respect by his officers and the same respect was accorded him by the senior management at work after the war. All the earache he got came from the same type of people who had made his life a misery at the art school. It makes perfect sense that my parents voted Tory because the Tory Party under Churchill, Eden, MacMillan and Hulme were the type of men who genuinely respected working men.

The Tories that my parents voted for believed that every man had his place and that the place should be respected by all other men. My parents felt that way also. Thus It also makes perfect sense for Mr and Mrs Bell to have voted Labour for the first time ever in 1983. Thatcher did not respect the working class. That creature hated us and wanted to reduce us to penury and servitude.

Until the Tories relearn the way to appeal to working class people as working class people, and not putative middle class rabble, then they will continue to decline in Northern England.

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