Issue 172 of SOCIALIST REVIEW Published February 1994 Copyright © Socialist Review
ON THE BACK
'As to Tories, one or two have done what a great number ought to have done; committed suicide. By all accounts there never existed a more miserable set of beings than these wretched creatures now are.'
This quote is not a Stack on the Back original, nor does it come from any of the great socialist leaders of the past like Lenin or Trotsky. It is not the product of a flight of rhetoric by Nye Bevan or Dennis Skinner. No, this was written at the time of the American Revolution by none other than George Washington.
I dug it from my memory bank as the events of the last weeks unfurled because it seemed so appropriate. True, no Tory has yet done the honourable thing but in every other respect it sums them up.
There was this view of the Tories during the Thatcher years, that they were vicious, anti-working class and anti-poor. They were seen as serving the interests of their class with great gusto. Yet somehow they were viewed as being deeply ideologically committed and above crude self interest.
What a joke that was. Never have members of a government and local councils lined their own pockets with such ease. Never has there been a government that cheated, lied and gerrymandered with such determination to keep their bums on the chairs of office and their fingers in their greasy tills. Never has a government been so exposed as a bunch of hypocrites who, while preaching fake morality, enjoy lives so completely free of that same morality.
The privatisation programmes and the sales of council houses, portrayed as being fought for the purest of ideological motives, provided great financial bonuses to many of those involved. Just take one example: one minute Norman Tebbit (the purest of pure ideologues) was voting to privatise British Telecom, the next he was being paid huge retainers by the newly privatised firm.
Wandsworth and Westminster councils were at one and the same time the great flagships of a housing revolution by the Tories, and a source of considerable financial gain for many of those steering the ship. In addition of course they were ensuring their continued ability to enjoy these benefits by driving the poor out of their areas and getting their supporters in.
Westminster and Wandsworth must be the most blatant example of rotten boroughs since... well the time of George Washington, I suppose.
Nor was the grand old lady herself above all this. From the moment she retired she has, according to numerous press reports, worked extremely hard at enriching herself. Haggling over huge speakers' fees, squeezing every last penny out of publishers for her excruciating tome, and grabbing every opportunity to make a fast buck. While in office she helped the business interests of the drunken oaf she had married. More spectacularly, she played no small part in turning her son--one of the most useless and talentless specimens of humanity ever to be produced by human copulation--into a multi-millionaire.
That he should have become so by dealing in the dirtiest of all businesses, the arms trade, is perhaps the most fitting tribute one can pay to that wretched woman.
So while young men were being sent to their potential deaths, fighting the so called next Hitler, Saddam Hussein, the government was happily selling him arms.
In their desperation to hold onto power, ministers lied, evaded and were even prepared to let fall guys go to jail. Now we have the Scott enquiry and we witness 'the most brilliant men of our times' collectively suffer from bouts of amnesia, temporary dyslexia, and alarming lacks of knowledge.
John Major, holder of the 'three great offices of state', apparently heard no evil, saw no evil, and spoke... a pile of old bollocks. He has, it seems, been kept in the dark for longer periods than would be safe for the average mushroom.
Of course it doesn't finish there. In a crude attempt to divert us all from the suffering they heaped upon us, these same Tories started on about basics, morality and family values. Now we see them squirming around trying to explain away affairs, the countless single parent families they've created and their strange moneysaving activities in France.
Rumours run rife about the sexual orientation of certain ministers, which shouldn't matter a damn, but does because gays have also been in the Tory firing line.
Every day a new Tory appears on the front pages of our papers, with a mistress, a dodgy housing deal or an abandoned child. Suddenly minister after minister is getting tongue tied and confused, desperately trying to redefine 'back to basics'.
Now we are told by all and sundry (excluding Portillo of course) that it is simply about education. Hang on a minute though, wasn't the Tory testing plan basically thrown back by the teachers and parents, leaving egg all over the rather strange John Patten.
And that takes me back to where I started and Washington's thoughts. The time has come for this bunch of Tories to dig out their revolvers, because, as old George said, that is what a great number ought to have done.
And, as anyone can tell you, Washington never told a lie!