Notes From the Margins…

The Tory Party Has Gone Missing

  • June 21, 2019
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Some readers may have heard of the mass hallucinations that took place at the French village of Pont-Saint-Esprit in 1951.   As John Grant Fuller describes it in The Day of Saint Anthony’s Fire, on 15 August that year the entire village of 250 inhabitants woke up and began seeing visions.  One man sat down  to eat a medieval banquet that did not exist.  Another chewed his way through a leather strap that was holding him down, jumped out the window, and continued running even after breaking both his legs.  Another was chased by a tiger, while yet another was followed by snakes.

By the end of this episode, five people had died and others were seriously ill.   Most theories attribute this outbreak to a surfeit of ergot – a component of LSD – in the wheat harvest, which found its way into the local bread.  Another school of thought argues that the villagers actually took LSD as a result of a CIA experiment that went wrong.

I mention this, in view of what is happening to the Conservative Party.   Police are advising anyone who encounters the Tory Party to stay away from it for their own safety.   Because if its members are not wall-slamming female climate change protesters, they can be found wandering the streets of Twitter like drunken town criers proclaiming the imminent arrival of the Messiah, here:

And here:

Even George Osborne, who once suggested that Johnson was unfit to be Tory leader, has had a change of heart, announcing his support for Johnson in an Evening Standard editorial which declared:

If Mr Johnson governs as the “modern Conservative” he promises to be today he can put his party, and country back on track.

That’s why we believe if there’s one of these candidates who can give Britain back its mojo, it’s BoJo.

There’s a lot more where this came from,  and it’s clear that these hallucinatory outbursts are too similar and too widespread to attribute to a few random unicorn-spotters who may have ingested magic mushrooms or forgotten to take their medication.

The police are particularly alarmed at the growing evidence that the Tory Party as a whole,  has overdosed not on LSD, but Brexit, and that as a result it is no longer in full possession of its mental faculties.  Consider this week’s YouGov survey of Conservative Party members, which produced the following findings:

 

 

Previous Tory leaders, such Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher or John Major would probably be surprised to find that the party of Great Britain is now prepared to break up the union,  accept ‘significant damage to the UK economy’, and even destroy itself in order to get Brexit, and that the only thing that would stop them is would be the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister.  That is worrying enough, but consider this:

 

Three years ago you might not have predicted that Tory Party members would reach these conclusions, but Brexit is a very toxic drug whose effects, at that time, were only poorly understood.  Now we know better, but it may be too late.   Who are these members now rushing headlong to their doom?  Well it’s not just the 35,000-odd UKIP voters who have reportedly joined the Tory Party in order to punish Remainer MPs and push the party in their direction.

The Tory Party had 124,000 members as of March last year, and may be larger as a result of the UKIP influx.  According to Professor Tim Bale more than half these members are over 55 and four out of ten are over 65 years old.   97 percent of them are white and 86 percent of them belong to the top ABC1 social grade used by market researchers.  Nearly four out of ten earn more than £30,000 and one in ten earns more than £100,000.

Only 15 percent of these voters believe government should redistribute income from the wealthy to the less well-off.   It’s clear that few of these people are going to feel any consequences of the ‘significant economic damage’ they are prepared to accept, and they don’t care about those who will.

So these people may not be a danger to themselves,  but they are now about to choose a prime minister with no mandate beyond they one they give him, who is as delusional as so many of his followers seem to be.

And faced with this situation, we can only repeat the warning that should have been made in 2016:

Brexit.  Don’t touch it.

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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