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The Tory Soul part II: Of the twins

Traditionally, cities have their own astrological signs. London was thought to be ruled by Gemini, the twins. The Krays may have become more relevant symbols of London's particularly extreme dioscuran temperament, but Albion's first famous twins were Gog and Magog, and though their statues always resided here, they were less of the City and more of the Island.

To my mind, they are also reminiscent of this whole idea of the Tory soul.

Whenever I speak to those who were born under the auspices of the fledgeling welfare state about why they support current cut-backs, the issue of  others and outsiders turns up.   'It's much bigger than it was ever intended to be,' they say, 'Why should I have to pay for [insert undesired beneficiary]?' The inevitable answer - that the whole thing only works if everyone buys into it and keeps it going for future generations - doesn't connect.  It leads to a strange irony; like many of the work force, a portion of my tax went into diminishing the necessary loans/interest on the amounts borrowed to fund the welfare state from which these people gained the most. I was working to pay off a debt incurred for their well-being, while they were voting to ensure I wouldn't have the same support they had received.

And the answer was always about immigration, too many people. Or people not working hard enough. Or people stealing benefits.
The list of reasons why they shouldn't have to pay never shortened.They wanted to pay for the deserving according to their own standards; some wouldn't mind paying for the destitute provided said unfortunates never drank or gambled, some wouldn't mind paying for abandoned mothers provided the ladies could prove that they had tried to save their marriages ... there was always a condition. And it was generally a condition they themselves  never had to meet, or met without trying.

There will never be an ultimate deserving class of people who tick every box, and to whom everyone will give without resentment. No such person exists on this planet, not the most sickly baby, not the most deserving veteran; someone somewhere just doesn't want to pay.Their base desire is to keep, not to give to the right person. That's why the right person can never be found.

But to what extent was this solely a Tory characteristic, and where/when did it develop? Britain has a long history of immigration, and come the 1950s/60s, racism was as noticeable among the working classes - and presumbly the left wing -  as anywhere else; there was limited understanding,no real attempt at education, rivalry for work, and instead of challenging the exploitative and powerful, it was easier - and safer - to punch down. But such attitudes became inextricably linked with Tory policy:



This wee nastiness is a 1964 Lambeth Tory poster.

As  Jane Austen could have told anybody, the tory idyll in all its qualities and security, required and still requires money;  It is a real Castor/Pollux dilemma for the Conservative party,and I am expressing it in hopelessly simplistic terms. One twin speaks of how much more immigrants put into the economy than they take out, the other talks about pressure on the NHS and the Welfare State. One twin wants to have more money to spend by investing, one wants to have more money to spend by not paying un-necessarily. One twin sees growing populations as financial opportunities, one sees growing populations as a threat, not just to autonomy but to identity.

Personally, I don't think this latter  twin is as smart as his brother, but how can his sibling ignore him?

This fight for the soul of the Conservative party is not even about the Sceptred Isle. It is about the power of money versus the power of preference. And it has hardly begun.


P.S. This perfect postcard  is from Gillray and can be bought here:http://rlv.zcache.com/twin_stars_castor_and_pollux_by_gillray_postcard-rd99723df4980481baaabfa114799c9ba_vgbaq_8byvr_512.jpg

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