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Thatcher era of Tories

The Tory leadership contest has ended with Eton and Oxford alumni David Cameron elected by a huge margin, writes Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Dec 07, 2005 21:16 IST

The week has been full of forecasts about the weather and the Tory party leadership contest. Luckily the last one has ended with the Eton and Oxford alumni David Cameron elected by a huge margin. He is the youngest at 39 to become leader of a British political party since William Pitt the Younger. He is two years younger than Tony Blair when he became Labour leader and is the fourth party leader since 1997 and 26th in the Tory history.

The question being asked is whether Cameron will with little experience and being in his first term in Parliament, lead his party to power. That has to be seen, but he has certainly caused some alarm at 11, Downing Street where the prime minister-in-waiting Chancellor Gordon Brown lives. Brown felt it necessary to state that despite eight years at the Treasury he has a lot of stamina left and has plans for more reforms on the line taken by Tony Blair.

Cameron has told his party to forget the Judy and Punch style of backbiting and pointing fingers and be prepared to move to the centre. It is obvious that he wants to move Tories to the centre ground, the way Blair had shifted his left-leaning Labour when he went in for 1997 May election. Blair's move brought his party a huge majority and has given Labour its third successive Parliament victory. But Cameron is only following a path shown by Blair. Will copying him help the Conservative Party? That is unpredictable. But one thing is sure the Tories have finally given up Thatcherism. Margaret Thatcher era is finally over.

Politics or sex

It is a bit amusing that any debate at any given time centres on either politics or sex. We had a surfeit of discussion about when Tony Blair would hand over the reins to Gordon Brown, how low is Blair's public standing and then the great betrayal by Brown. He had predicted a growth rate of 3.50 per cent but has now said it would be around 1.75 per cent and taxes would have to be imposed. Iraq has been more or less forgotten. Even diehard war protesters seem to be hibernating with cold and sleet enveloping almost the entire country.

I am sure that now the Tory leadership debate is over, sex issues will return for debating in public domain. There is already a beginning with a suggestion that sex education should start with children at five. No one is sure, and at least I am not, how the tiny-tots would be instructed in matters of procreation and passion. Birds and bees lessons would surely not help.

In any case, with children aged 11 and 13 becoming parents, I do not see much reason in telling them anything except possibly to tell them of how to use condoms. In my opinion, it is degeneration of the worst kind. It is good that at least so far Asians are not in need of such instructions.

Christmas in real terms

A TV programme was quite instructive to us Indians, some of whose cousin's back home indulge in an unabashed round of wining and dining during Christmas and the New Years. A number of people were interviewed on the programme that testified that family Christmas parties inevitably end in tears and slamming of doors as one member or the other flees to a room to howl.

The reason is that family members who do not meet the whole year get together and after three or four glasses of wine start saying what they would not normally. Recriminations, grievances and accusations pour out and then all the tears and fleeing follow. I gathered the impression that most such family get-togethers are ordeals of the worst kind. It is good that in India most partying is in five-stars, with no accent on families getting together.

The other problem is not just hangover but also the credit card bills that come through the post by the second week of January. A report has warned that over three million people face Christmas owing more than £10,000 each on loans and credit cards. It showed that 252,000 owed £50,000 or more and 203,000 are on the verge of declaring themselves bankrupt. Londoners were worst hit with almost one in 10 having £10,000 debts.

So much for the commercialisation of festivities!

A wise man said

Ultimately, you will reach a point where you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.

First Published: Dec 07, 2005 19:48 IST