The sexual politics of the Tories

If we discussed the single currency in bed, who knows how much richer our marriage might be?
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The Independent Culture
WATCHING THE latest Conservative Party political broadcast made me depressingly aware of two major shortcomings in my married life. First, that I rarely, if ever, discuss politics with my husband in the bedroom, and second that we don't have a wrought-iron bed.

Had we enjoyed the same advantages as Debbie and Chris, the young couple in the broadcast, playfully discussing the single currency on said bed, who knows how much richer and more fulfilled our marriage might be? I'm not saying it isn't pretty good, but we do have rows. So do Debbie and Chris.

The first time we saw them, if you remember, was in their kitchen, arguing about local government. This time they're in the bedroom arguing over the respective merits and demerits of European Monetary Union. Chris, who voted for Mr Blair, says, through a mouthful of shaving soap, - he's in the en-suite bathroom, you see - that joining the euro is inevitable. Debbie, who remained true to the Blues, says it needn't be. OK, as arguments go it's small beer compared with the sort of red-blooded, raging bull, no-holds-barred rows most married couples, including us, have. But the point is it ended with Debbie and Chris entwined in each other's arms falling backwards on to that splendid bed, for an obvious spot of nookie. Maybe that's what happens when you discuss politics in the bedroom. Maybe, come to think of it, that's what happens when you discuss anything in the bedroom, apart from the disappearance of one partner's last pair of Argyll socks, or why the other partner always manages to bag the duck- down pillow.

One reason for the limited conversation in the bedroom, as far as we're concerned, is that we rarely go to sleep or get up at the same time. That's what comes of being married to a restaurateur who keeps unsocial hours. Even if he didn't, the chances of us playfully discussing the euro in our bedroom is remote, given the room's peculiar dimensions and layout.

Unlike Debbie and Chris, whose bedroom is large and airy, with masses of storage space and bedside lamps, and long gauze curtains, ours is a broom cupboard with a platform bed.

This is inevitable, when you have a large family in a small flat. Sacrifices are called for. The master bedroom becomes the nursery. The older children sleep in cunning foldaway beds behind the airing-cupboard. We moved into the broom cupboard. It was fun to start with: "Gosh, how ingenious. You must be so cosy up there," say friends. We got used to it but it had its awkward moments. There was the time my husband slipped a disc, and when the doctor came round to examine him, the only way he could do it was by crawling on to the bed as well. Now you see why I covet Chris and Debbie's wrought-iron job.

Ceri Evans, the young man from Conservative Central Office who wrote the scripts for the political broadcasts, as well as doubling as press officer, said he hadn't originally planned a bedroom scene. Sex and the Conservatives are dangerous bedfellows, after all - remember poor Mr Major's attempt to get back to basics. The reason the drama was extended to the bedroom was because the kitchen table was getting a bit too claustrophobic.

But the trouble with their pinpointing the background and being too specific about props is that you're so caught up, like me, with the curtains and the duvet that you forget you are supposed to be listening to persuasive arguments about why we should stay out of Europe. Bring back steam radio. No visuals, no side-tracking. Show me a kitchen with a married couple arguing and I immediately think of Mary McCarthy's famous remark that the only thing she and her husband ever argued about was whose turn it was to take out the rubbish. Debbie and Chris are not the sort of people who take out the rubbish. They look far too deodorised, too fragrant, for that. Besides, said Ceri, they're not necessarily married. When he created them, he thought of Debbie as a 29-year-old part-time fitness instructor living with Chris, a thirtysomething computer sales manager driving a company car, a football enthusiast; with no kids, but probably planning one some time, reasonable disposable income: in short, your typical young Tory voters.

I think that they'd have been better off using William and Ffion at home in kitchen and bedroom, like an animated Hello! magazine feature. Think of it. Ffion against a stunning background of chintz, swags and tails telling us why we should stay out of Europe. And instead of Chris shaving en suite we would have William himself, plus baseball cap, taking out the rubbish.

That's what we voters want. The real McCoy.