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How the other half live

September 29th, 2007 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 4 Comments · Politics

In the Guardian today, Polly Toynbee was quoting Norman Tebbit:

Lord Tebbit, the party’s deathless Sauron, shot a deadly pre-conference bolt at Cameron with effusive praise for Gordon Brown – “I think he is a very clever man and I have very considerable regard for him” – while damning his own leader: “I think we lack somebody of the standing of Margaret.” What caustic acid he poured on the Eton phalanx: “What a lot of people will suggest is that they don’t know how the other half lives … they have no experience of the world whatsoever.”

If only it was just a matter of not knowing how the other half live. I think I can put up with that, after all, we are all in that position to a certain extent. As a bloke can I really understand all about how women experience life? I might think I can, but I would probably be wrong. Everyone must have large chunks of the population whose experiences they know about but can’t understand unless they have lived through them themselves.

But that’s why we aim for a representative parliament. Given the impossibility of finding, let alone electing, 600+ people who all know everything the next best thing is electing a large and varied group who are varied enough to know everything between them. That’s the theory anyway. Obviously it doesn’t work completely, with women and various ethnic minorities under-represented and various professions (law for example) over-represented at the expense of others or rather at the expense of those without a profession but merely with a trade or a skill.

So electing people who do not know how the other half live is not such a bad thing in itself. Its bad if too many of them are in the same half, and therefore ignorant of the same half. It would also help if the old-Etonian crowd were merely ignorant of how the other half live, but isn’t it more likely they just don’t know how the other 90% live? If anything the ‘deathless Sauron’ was understating the problem.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Rob Glover

    Actually, Tebbit disliking Cameron is a positive mark for Cameron in my book – I’d be far more worried if Normo liked him.

  • Skuds

    I shall reply with one of my favourite get-out-of-jail-free aphorisms…

    Even a stopped clock is right twice a day!

  • dave bones

    I was going to say its all about percentages but then again, its usually half..

  • skud's sister

    I thought that ‘deathless Sauron’ was probably needlessly cruel to Sauron.