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The Banality of Evil

29 Jan 2023 4 minute read
Jonathan Gullis MP leaves 10 Downing Street. Photo Belinda Jiao PA Images

Ben Wildsmith

Each Monday I resolve that this week’s column won’t be yet another attack on the Tories.

As a youth I witnessed Ben Elton’s Friday Night Live routines decay until he was content merely to abbreviate the Prime Minister’s name for the entertainment of those she had culturally diminished.

‘Mrs Thatcher, eh?’

‘What about Mrs. Thatch?’


I don’t want to be like that. I want to be proper erudite and bring a critical eye to all facets of society.

Elton, of course, went on to pen a musical with Tory peer and purveyor of top-class entertainment, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, noting that: “If I were to refuse to talk to Tories, I would narrow my social and professional scope considerably. If you judge all your relationships on a person’s voting intentions, I think you miss out on the varieties of life.”

I should acknowledge that Elton had rather more at stake than I do. My ‘social scope’ consists of Mrs. W, the bloke in Happy Shopper who sells me my fags, and a monthly phone call from Greasy Tony ‒ a car enthusiast with whom I used to sell double glazing in 1994.

So, all-in-all, I’ve got no business being sniffy about befriending Tories, I might learn something.

Septuagenarian fundament

The trouble is you just don’t get Andrew Lloyd Webber grade Tories anymore. He resigned from the Lords in 2017 to devote more time developing Avant Garde facial expressions.

If I were to collaborate on a West End spectacular with a Tory tunesmith, I’d have to choose between Phil Collins and Gary Numan. Even Rod Stewart has jumped ship.

My libretto for ‘Andrew RT Davies, The Opera’ seems destined to never to be put to music.

Arty types, you see, tend to possess a sliver of common feeling for wider humanity, even if their usual experience of it is in servitude.

You can’t parlay your ripped-off Verdi melodies into successful theatrical juggernauts without having a vague idea of how the bovine masses respond to emotional stimuli.

Neither can you squeeze your septuagenarian fundament into leopard skin trousers and shake it convincingly for stadiums full of HRT-fuelled rock chicks if the only public reaction you’ve ever experienced is revulsion.

Torydom, you see, has jumped the shark from politically obnoxious to culturally unacceptable. It has gone from being the ice bucket challenge in 2019 to driving under the influence of ketamine in 2023.

Flirting with fascism

During a debate this week on migrant children who have gone missing, Tory MP Jonathan Gullis shouted: “They shouldn’t have come here illegally, then!”

Who, apart from the absolute dregs of society, can identify with that sentiment?

The Tory party used to hold such wide appeal because it appealed to the individualist within all of us.

Even the worthiest yoghurt-knitting Lefty harbours selfish impulses and the Selfservatives existed to nurture those and provide a sheen of respectability for acting on them.

Becoming a buy-to-let landlord? Nothing wrong with that, you are providing housing for the nation, well done!

Gullis and his ilk don’t represent any normal facet of human experience. A psychologist might look at his utterances and suspect a deep well of self-hatred and that simply isn’t part of the makeup of most people.

During the Brexit campaign, I grew rather weary of people saying we were flirting with fascism. It seemed alarmist and gauche, redolent of Rik from the Young Ones ‒ a Ben Elton creation.

But what can I say to those people now?

I’m forced on to the topic of Tory depravity week on week because they continue to plunge further into it with seemingly nobody in their midst left to object.

You can find more of The Shrewd View and the rest of Ben’s writing on Nation.Cymru by following his links on this map

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago

Love the title, add a little very profitable treason and we have the government an awful lot of people voted for…and all aboard the daily express to penury and an early death in the most horrible circumstances imaginable…

Last edited 1 year ago by Mab Meirion
Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 year ago

I was one of those people you thought were Rik-like in their assertations about flirting with fascism…and trust, I knew that was the way many of us were coming across, but I knew it in my bones, I knew that fascism was coming because of the way New Labour behaved (and you can know, that I voted for New Labour and re-branded Labour every G.E after leaving school…and that every time I did so, I felt deeply ashamed of doing so, except for when Corbyn led the party, I felt proud then. Like it meant something better could come),… The… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

A brother and sister I know pleaded with their parents to vote remain but to no avail…I wonder if the Red Cross knew their shops were being used to promote the leave campaign?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago

I feel sorry for all the other Iraqi Kurds in this country trying to make a go of it who have just been defecated on…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago

To be gulled by Gullis…

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