A quick thought

“If you’re not Labour at 20 you have no heart, and if you’re not Conservative at 40 you have no head.”

– Petronella Wyatt, providing a variant on a much-attributed quote

And there, ladies and gentlemen, is the problem with the Conservative Party: while not all Conservatives are heartless, far from it, that is where all the heartless people end up – and they have a twenty-year head start on the others…

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32 Responses to A quick thought

  1. Theresa K. says:

    Very amusing. I’ve heard a variation on this, too, using the terms Democrat and Republican. It certainly happened in my life. The funny thing is that I was ardently conservative (as in religious right) in my mid twenties, but coming to Lutheranism in my 40’s I do sense a slight drift back toward the middle. I wonder if it is because I want to know that some underlying support structure will be there if I become a destitute old woman?

  2. Theresa K. says:

    Very amusing. I’ve heard a variation on this, too, using the terms Democrat and Republican. It certainly happened in my life. The funny thing is that I was ardently conservative (as in religious right) in my mid twenties, but coming to Lutheranism in my 40’s I do sense a slight drift back toward the middle. I wonder if it is because I want to know that some underlying support structure will be there if I become a destitute old woman?

  3. Theresa K. says:

    Very amusing. I’ve heard a variation on this, too, using the terms Democrat and Republican. It certainly happened in my life. The funny thing is that I was ardently conservative (as in religious right) in my mid twenties, but coming to Lutheranism in my 40’s I do sense a slight drift back toward the middle. I wonder if it is because I want to know that some underlying support structure will be there if I become a destitute old woman?

  4. Theresa K. says:

    Very amusing. I’ve heard a variation on this, too, using the terms Democrat and Republican. It certainly happened in my life. The funny thing is that I was ardently conservative (as in religious right) in my mid twenties, but coming to Lutheranism in my 40’s I do sense a slight drift back toward the middle. I wonder if it is because I want to know that some underlying support structure will be there if I become a destitute old woman?

  5. Atwood says:

    Are you serious, John? I have known far too many ignorant and naive conservatives and far too many cynical and heartless progressives to find that oft-repeated quip to be enlightening in the slightest.

  6. Atwood says:

    Are you serious, John? I have known far too many ignorant and naive conservatives and far too many cynical and heartless progressives to find that oft-repeated quip to be enlightening in the slightest.

  7. Atwood says:

    Are you serious, John? I have known far too many ignorant and naive conservatives and far too many cynical and heartless progressives to find that oft-repeated quip to be enlightening in the slightest.

  8. Atwood says:

    Are you serious, John? I have known far too many ignorant and naive conservatives and far too many cynical and heartless progressives to find that oft-repeated quip to be enlightening in the slightest.

  9. John H says:

    Chris – not totally serious, and I take your point about ignorant/naive conservatives and cynical/heartless progressives.
    One reason the phrase stuck in my mind when I read it a few months ago is because it’s a trajectory I am familiar with from personal experience.
    But another reason is that a very, very large part of my ambivalence towards the political embodiment of Whiggism/Toryism (in uncomfortable alliance) in the UK, namely the Conservative Party, is precisely the sort of people who were joining the likes of the Oxford University Conservative Association (motto: “Be a socialite, not a socialist”) when I was at university, who fit the implied description of 20-year old Conservatives all too well. A tendency to glory in one’s own callousness towards the disadvantaged.
    I suppose to adapt the point in my post, the problem for the Conservative Party is that the “quip” strikes such a chord with people who should be their natural supporters.
    The most impressive Conservative politicians are those who come across most clearly as being Conservatives precisely because they believe Conservative principles to provide the best way truly to help people who are poor or marginalised, rather than just patronising people by turning them into lifelong clients of the state.
    You could call it, “Compassionate Conservatism”. Has a certain ring to it, yes? 😉

  10. John H says:

    Chris – not totally serious, and I take your point about ignorant/naive conservatives and cynical/heartless progressives.
    One reason the phrase stuck in my mind when I read it a few months ago is because it’s a trajectory I am familiar with from personal experience.
    But another reason is that a very, very large part of my ambivalence towards the political embodiment of Whiggism/Toryism (in uncomfortable alliance) in the UK, namely the Conservative Party, is precisely the sort of people who were joining the likes of the Oxford University Conservative Association (motto: “Be a socialite, not a socialist”) when I was at university, who fit the implied description of 20-year old Conservatives all too well. A tendency to glory in one’s own callousness towards the disadvantaged.
    I suppose to adapt the point in my post, the problem for the Conservative Party is that the “quip” strikes such a chord with people who should be their natural supporters.
    The most impressive Conservative politicians are those who come across most clearly as being Conservatives precisely because they believe Conservative principles to provide the best way truly to help people who are poor or marginalised, rather than just patronising people by turning them into lifelong clients of the state.
    You could call it, “Compassionate Conservatism”. Has a certain ring to it, yes? 😉

  11. John H says:

    Chris – not totally serious, and I take your point about ignorant/naive conservatives and cynical/heartless progressives.
    One reason the phrase stuck in my mind when I read it a few months ago is because it’s a trajectory I am familiar with from personal experience.
    But another reason is that a very, very large part of my ambivalence towards the political embodiment of Whiggism/Toryism (in uncomfortable alliance) in the UK, namely the Conservative Party, is precisely the sort of people who were joining the likes of the Oxford University Conservative Association (motto: “Be a socialite, not a socialist”) when I was at university, who fit the implied description of 20-year old Conservatives all too well. A tendency to glory in one’s own callousness towards the disadvantaged.
    I suppose to adapt the point in my post, the problem for the Conservative Party is that the “quip” strikes such a chord with people who should be their natural supporters.
    The most impressive Conservative politicians are those who come across most clearly as being Conservatives precisely because they believe Conservative principles to provide the best way truly to help people who are poor or marginalised, rather than just patronising people by turning them into lifelong clients of the state.
    You could call it, “Compassionate Conservatism”. Has a certain ring to it, yes? 😉

  12. John H says:

    Chris – not totally serious, and I take your point about ignorant/naive conservatives and cynical/heartless progressives.
    One reason the phrase stuck in my mind when I read it a few months ago is because it’s a trajectory I am familiar with from personal experience.
    But another reason is that a very, very large part of my ambivalence towards the political embodiment of Whiggism/Toryism (in uncomfortable alliance) in the UK, namely the Conservative Party, is precisely the sort of people who were joining the likes of the Oxford University Conservative Association (motto: “Be a socialite, not a socialist”) when I was at university, who fit the implied description of 20-year old Conservatives all too well. A tendency to glory in one’s own callousness towards the disadvantaged.
    I suppose to adapt the point in my post, the problem for the Conservative Party is that the “quip” strikes such a chord with people who should be their natural supporters.
    The most impressive Conservative politicians are those who come across most clearly as being Conservatives precisely because they believe Conservative principles to provide the best way truly to help people who are poor or marginalised, rather than just patronising people by turning them into lifelong clients of the state.
    You could call it, “Compassionate Conservatism”. Has a certain ring to it, yes? 😉

  13. John H says:

    Chris: I wonder if there is a US/UK difference at work here as well, too. The Conservative Party is perceived (even by many Conservatives) to have built a lot of its success on being “cruel but competent”. (So in the 1980s, it was seen as par for the course to hear Conservative ministers saying things like “Just get on your bike and look for work”, or “Homeless people? Oh, they’re the people you step over on your way out of the theatre, aren’t they?”).
    “Black Wednesday” (in 1992, when the pound exited the Exchange Rate Mechanism in humiliating circumstances) put paid to the image of Tory competence, and then Labour has done a good job of claiming the crown of economic competence for itself since 1997 (not altogether deservedly).
    So now the Conservatives are left being perceived as cruel but incompetent. Not a good image to have, and one that is currently being exacerbated by the process of replacing Michael Howard, for which the term “utter shambles” barely seems sufficient. I’m left agog at how I could possibly have thought they were remotely fit to govern as recently as May.
    This contrasts with the resurgence in the Right in the US over the past quarter-century. There has been no equivalent to this intellectual resurgence in right-wing, conservative thinking here in the UK – nothing to compare with things like the impact of talk radio or even political sites on the web, no equivalent to “South Park Conservatives”, and certainly nothing whatever to compare with the impact of politically conservative Evangelicals in the US.

  14. John H says:

    Chris: I wonder if there is a US/UK difference at work here as well, too. The Conservative Party is perceived (even by many Conservatives) to have built a lot of its success on being “cruel but competent”. (So in the 1980s, it was seen as par for the course to hear Conservative ministers saying things like “Just get on your bike and look for work”, or “Homeless people? Oh, they’re the people you step over on your way out of the theatre, aren’t they?”).
    “Black Wednesday” (in 1992, when the pound exited the Exchange Rate Mechanism in humiliating circumstances) put paid to the image of Tory competence, and then Labour has done a good job of claiming the crown of economic competence for itself since 1997 (not altogether deservedly).
    So now the Conservatives are left being perceived as cruel but incompetent. Not a good image to have, and one that is currently being exacerbated by the process of replacing Michael Howard, for which the term “utter shambles” barely seems sufficient. I’m left agog at how I could possibly have thought they were remotely fit to govern as recently as May.
    This contrasts with the resurgence in the Right in the US over the past quarter-century. There has been no equivalent to this intellectual resurgence in right-wing, conservative thinking here in the UK – nothing to compare with things like the impact of talk radio or even political sites on the web, no equivalent to “South Park Conservatives”, and certainly nothing whatever to compare with the impact of politically conservative Evangelicals in the US.

  15. John H says:

    Chris: I wonder if there is a US/UK difference at work here as well, too. The Conservative Party is perceived (even by many Conservatives) to have built a lot of its success on being “cruel but competent”. (So in the 1980s, it was seen as par for the course to hear Conservative ministers saying things like “Just get on your bike and look for work”, or “Homeless people? Oh, they’re the people you step over on your way out of the theatre, aren’t they?”).
    “Black Wednesday” (in 1992, when the pound exited the Exchange Rate Mechanism in humiliating circumstances) put paid to the image of Tory competence, and then Labour has done a good job of claiming the crown of economic competence for itself since 1997 (not altogether deservedly).
    So now the Conservatives are left being perceived as cruel but incompetent. Not a good image to have, and one that is currently being exacerbated by the process of replacing Michael Howard, for which the term “utter shambles” barely seems sufficient. I’m left agog at how I could possibly have thought they were remotely fit to govern as recently as May.
    This contrasts with the resurgence in the Right in the US over the past quarter-century. There has been no equivalent to this intellectual resurgence in right-wing, conservative thinking here in the UK – nothing to compare with things like the impact of talk radio or even political sites on the web, no equivalent to “South Park Conservatives”, and certainly nothing whatever to compare with the impact of politically conservative Evangelicals in the US.

  16. John H says:

    Chris: I wonder if there is a US/UK difference at work here as well, too. The Conservative Party is perceived (even by many Conservatives) to have built a lot of its success on being “cruel but competent”. (So in the 1980s, it was seen as par for the course to hear Conservative ministers saying things like “Just get on your bike and look for work”, or “Homeless people? Oh, they’re the people you step over on your way out of the theatre, aren’t they?”).
    “Black Wednesday” (in 1992, when the pound exited the Exchange Rate Mechanism in humiliating circumstances) put paid to the image of Tory competence, and then Labour has done a good job of claiming the crown of economic competence for itself since 1997 (not altogether deservedly).
    So now the Conservatives are left being perceived as cruel but incompetent. Not a good image to have, and one that is currently being exacerbated by the process of replacing Michael Howard, for which the term “utter shambles” barely seems sufficient. I’m left agog at how I could possibly have thought they were remotely fit to govern as recently as May.
    This contrasts with the resurgence in the Right in the US over the past quarter-century. There has been no equivalent to this intellectual resurgence in right-wing, conservative thinking here in the UK – nothing to compare with things like the impact of talk radio or even political sites on the web, no equivalent to “South Park Conservatives”, and certainly nothing whatever to compare with the impact of politically conservative Evangelicals in the US.

  17. Atwood says:

    Well, “cruel and incompetent” is certainly NOT a winning hand. :^D
    I once read an article somewhere that talked about how politicians are far more likely to be successful when they play contrary to type: liberals who stress competence and toughness, conservatives who stress friendliness, idealism, and a helping hand.

  18. Atwood says:

    Well, “cruel and incompetent” is certainly NOT a winning hand. :^D
    I once read an article somewhere that talked about how politicians are far more likely to be successful when they play contrary to type: liberals who stress competence and toughness, conservatives who stress friendliness, idealism, and a helping hand.

  19. Atwood says:

    Well, “cruel and incompetent” is certainly NOT a winning hand. :^D
    I once read an article somewhere that talked about how politicians are far more likely to be successful when they play contrary to type: liberals who stress competence and toughness, conservatives who stress friendliness, idealism, and a helping hand.

  20. Atwood says:

    Well, “cruel and incompetent” is certainly NOT a winning hand. :^D
    I once read an article somewhere that talked about how politicians are far more likely to be successful when they play contrary to type: liberals who stress competence and toughness, conservatives who stress friendliness, idealism, and a helping hand.

  21. greg bourke says:

    What’s the name of that renegade Labour MP who was run in front of a US Senate committee regarding trading in Iraq?
    I heard him speak at length on the radio down here (a taped BBC interview) and he seemed quite sincere.

  22. greg bourke says:

    What’s the name of that renegade Labour MP who was run in front of a US Senate committee regarding trading in Iraq?
    I heard him speak at length on the radio down here (a taped BBC interview) and he seemed quite sincere.

  23. greg bourke says:

    What’s the name of that renegade Labour MP who was run in front of a US Senate committee regarding trading in Iraq?
    I heard him speak at length on the radio down here (a taped BBC interview) and he seemed quite sincere.

  24. greg bourke says:

    What’s the name of that renegade Labour MP who was run in front of a US Senate committee regarding trading in Iraq?
    I heard him speak at length on the radio down here (a taped BBC interview) and he seemed quite sincere.

  25. Brian C says:

    George Galloway.

  26. Brian C says:

    George Galloway.

  27. Brian C says:

    George Galloway.

  28. Brian C says:

    George Galloway.

  29. John H says:

    George Galloway? Nasty piece of work. Even people on the left generally have very little time for him.
    Though it was difficult not to feel a certain affectionate swelling of pride in the chest as we saw him take on those US senators. He is certainly eloquent and impassioned, you have to hand him that.

  30. John H says:

    George Galloway? Nasty piece of work. Even people on the left generally have very little time for him.
    Though it was difficult not to feel a certain affectionate swelling of pride in the chest as we saw him take on those US senators. He is certainly eloquent and impassioned, you have to hand him that.

  31. John H says:

    George Galloway? Nasty piece of work. Even people on the left generally have very little time for him.
    Though it was difficult not to feel a certain affectionate swelling of pride in the chest as we saw him take on those US senators. He is certainly eloquent and impassioned, you have to hand him that.

  32. John H says:

    George Galloway? Nasty piece of work. Even people on the left generally have very little time for him.
    Though it was difficult not to feel a certain affectionate swelling of pride in the chest as we saw him take on those US senators. He is certainly eloquent and impassioned, you have to hand him that.

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