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How desperate are the Tories to mythologise their “glorious past”

Just as Thatcher outranks Churchill in the estimation of Sun readers, so she does in the eulogising of Tory MPs. When Churchill died in 1965, the four speeches in his memory in the House of Commons lasted 25 minutes. He had been an MP until the previous year and Prime Minister only ten years earlier so a high proportion of MPs would have known and worked with him, or at least sipped their drinks in a nearby armchair.

Thatcher has not been an MP for 22 years, and not that many of today’s Tory MPs will have been allowed too close to her. And yet 80 MPs have told the Speaker they want to speak.

Some Labour MPs heeded Dan Hodges call to “show restraint“, to say “nice things about Margaret Thatcher“, and “to shove its antipathy where the sun doesn’t shine“. Most, however, including Ed Miliband, at least managed to balance some respectful remarks with references to some of that antipathy and some went much further, most notably Dan Hodges mum, Glenda Jackson, who clearly doesn’t read young Dan’s blogs and tore into Thatcher from the start.

Most of those speaking, however were Tories, no doubt keen to show their local parties how much they adored her. At great length. And long after few were left to listen (only 2 Labour MPs left Patrick Wintour has just tweeted). Almost eight hours so far. Why did their leaders allow this farcical, tedious hype? There are a few reasons, but none of them of much comfort to the Tories:

  • The Tories are at a low ebb electorally. They won only 23.5% of the votes of the British electorate at the last election, more than they got in the previous three but much less than they got in any other election since the universal franchise began, including those they lost in 1929, 1945, 1950, 1964, 1966, and 1974 (both). They are facing a worse result next time.
  • They are at a low ebb politically, divided, facing electoral threats from left, right and (still) centre.
  • Their policies are unpopular, and political support for those aspects of their agenda espoused by the Right and restrained by the Lib Dem coalition partners is diminishing too – literally dying out.

They’re just harking back to their “glory days” when Thatcher planted the roots of the economic crisis their current policies are failing to resolve.

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