Nicholas Lezard: The Armchair Agitator

'I have never met an Etonian who wasn't an untrustworthy, mendacious, conniving creep'

Related Topics

The most terrifying news of the week for me was the revelation that a columnist for Another Paper had heard some "grandees" at the Hay Festival talk about David Cameron in these terms: "Isn't he amazing?" This story makes me wonder about literary festivals and the people who go to them, but I shall stick with Cameron.

Well, I suppose he is amazing, but then so is the rabies virus. In fact, I wonder if something pathological is going on here. The extent to which people are prepared to ignore his failings - viz: his vapidity, opportunism and political allegiance - suggests not so much a deep-rooted dissatisfaction with the New Labour project as some kind of collective yearning for disaster that can only be explained by some spirochaete that has insinuated itself into the neural folds. For while it is true that everyone in any meaningful position in the Labour Party is a disgusting, power-drunk fraud who shouldn't be left in charge of a burger van, we have to remember that Cameron and his kind are - I'll spell this out slowly so that those at the back don't miss it - T.O.R.I.E.S., and therefore even more dangerous to the population at large than the current gang.

One wishes, as never before, for someone with the rhetorical passion of Nye Bevan, who once got into a bit of trouble for saying: "No amount of cajolery can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory party ... So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin." (I made a poster for the 1987 election that consisted of the words "The Tories - Lower than Vermin" blown up 64 times on a photocopier. I stuck the poster in the front window of my parents' house in East Finchley when they were away, which caused a bit of a stir in the neighbourhood but did not exactly alter the political status quo. I'd do it again but they took back the keys to their house after that.) I suppose the only person on the Labour front bench with the balls to say anything like that is John Prescott, but then he's pretty much a busted flush these days and would be well advised to keep his yap shut for the rest of his life.

Now, one of the great things about this newspaper is its declared independence from any party line, which means, I suppose, that some people who read it are Tories. I advise those of you who are to turn the page now, for I am about to make some offensive observations.

The point about all Tories apart from my Dad is their total lack of any moral centre. I have found that I have a sixth sense for this kind of thing; it comes off them like a smell. I was invited to dinner a couple of months ago and found myself in the company of an attractive couple in their late thirties. As I spoke to them, it dawned on me that something was wrong about them. What was it? The story about the man and his fondness for wearing rubber catsuits pointed to sexual deviancy, but I have no problem with that. It was something else, as if they were, in fact, in their sixties and had been preserved in youth by drinking the blood of virgins.

It came out that they were Tories; and, worse, that the man had been to Eton. They even knew Cameron. Now I have never met an Etonian who wasn't a mendacious, untrustworthy, conniving creep of the first order. The last decent one, George Orwell, died more than half a century ago. Nowadays they bang on about the environment insincerely, pretend they've taken cocaine and choose comedy songs when they get invited on Desert Island Discs. And then they get called "amazing". Amazing.

My theory explaining why the Government is in such a toxic mess at the moment is quite simple. Everyone has noticed the phenomenon but, as far as I can see, no one has given it a name. So I shall give it one and be invited on to Question Time to explain it. It is the "Contents May Settle" theory of government. You can observe it in a packet of cornflakes that you've had knocking around for a while. You'll see that all the big bits rise to the top, and the little, dusty ones sink to the bottom.

In the same way, any oligarchy that remains in power for longer than about five years starts a process of sifting that results in the elimination from any influential post of people who might have a capacity for independent thought. Because their opinions don't always chime with the leadership, they're kicked out. As a result, the only people left anywhere near the levers of power are toadies, creeps, lickspittles and people who wouldn't say "boo" to a beanie baby.

Nothing else can explain the continued political career of Ruth Kelly, who loses Labour a million votes every time she opens her mouth. Or MPs like my own Andrew Slaughter, whose conscience has never once moved him to vote against the Government in his entire miserable career. One would dearly love to kick these people out, but that will only result in a bunch of pseudo bike-riding Benny Hill-loving Etonians bossing us about for the foreseeable. Is there nothing we can do to stop them?

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ed Miliband and David Cameron  

Cameron and Miliband should have faith in their bolder policies

Ian Birrell
Andreas Lubitz runs the Airport Race half marathon in Hamburg on 13 September 2009  

Being sensitive to mental health need not lead us to downplay the horror of what Lubitz did

Will Gore
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing