August 8, 2010


Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

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Undercover with the young Conservatives: The sexual appeal of Margaret Thatcher, "the bloody Lib Dems" and the true meaning of "the big society" -- I heard it all at my first Conservative Future event. (Laurie Penny - 08 August 2010, New Statesman)
The debate is thrown open to the floor, and eventually one of the few ladies in the room puts up her hand to ask a polite question about the representation of women in Tory politics.

"Well, obviously I think women should be more visible in the party - " begins one candidate, grinning as a roar of appreciation goes up for his blokey innuendo. There follow some platitudes about how unfortunate it is that few women are taking advantage of this uniquely welcoming atmosphere to put themselves forward, and assurances that "positive discrimination" will never be a part of Conservative Future's way of doing politics.

It's alright, though - there's at least one woman who these people respect. "We need to attack the left like they attacked us," says one of the candidates, his top button straining. "We need to vilify them like they vilified the greatest Prime Minister this country has ever had - Margaret Thatcher!" Sudden thunderous applause and thumping of the bar from fifty young men in blazers who were largely prenatal when Thatcher left Downing Street. "She did what needed to be done," continues the speaker fervently. I begin to worry that this is actually a neoliberal ecstatic cult, and that one of the young men on the platform is about to start shaking and summon the spirit of the Iron Lady. Time for a little break.

Sucking down fresh Belgravia air and nicotine in the street, I meet a young graduate in a pink shirt who decides to share my lighter and his left-libertarian misgivings. "The Thatcher thing is weirdly sexualised, isn't it?" he says. "I heard one of them saying that it'd be a privilege to lick her boots." It's almost as if the right can't express respect for any woman without declaring her super-sexy.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at August 8, 2010 7:36 AM
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