Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Play nicely, children. This, from Jeremy Paxman's The Political Animal, is about the election defeat of the former Tory whip Derek Conway: "By teatime on polling day, Conway knew his time was up. Astonishingly, Shrewsbury, a town which had remained the plaything of the landed gentry long after universal suffrage, was to be represented in the next parliament by a Labour MP. Conway claims that he took the blow philosophically. But pick at the scab and the poison is still bitter. The 1,800 votes taken by the two anti-European parties could have given him victory. 'Had it not been for James Goldsmith's intervention I'd have won. He died of pancreatic cancer,' he says, and then adds in the most chilling tone, 'I hear it's the most painful of deaths. I'm so pleased.'"
Goldsmith's own reputation for niceness was not of the highest, of course. But still.
[The Political Animal: An Anatomy, by Jeremy Paxman, Michael Joseph, 2002. The political animals anatomised are British MPs, and the main question considered is why we - and Paxman in particular - so despise them. Fluent, readable, funny, well-researched (although he says the Rector of Stiffkey was eaten by a lion, which is wrong) and almost unbearably smug.]

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