Last night the BBC aired a brilliant horror-movie (viewable on iPlayer) called ‘Young, Bright and on the Right.’
It followed two young men, one at Oxford the other at Cambridge, trying to make their way in student Conservative party politics. One of the stories – of a young man from a one-parent family in Yorkshire whose father had been in prison – was genuinely interesting. Rather than being happy about himself and his background, he had become someone else. Though he presented this as being essential in order to get on in Conservative party politics, I am not certain he was right. Having never been involved I can’t say for certain, but it does occur to me that William Hague, for instance, never lost his accent.
Inevitably, a number of people have already pointed out that the BBC did not send cameras in to expose the workings of students climbing Labour’s greasy poll. But I’m not sure it’s a terrific point because fun though it would have been it would just have shown something similar.
The giveaway was the characters who kept talking about the ‘importance of the party’. Their default setting was to say things like ‘of course I put the party first’ and words to that effect. And I kept wondering: ‘Why?’ Why do all these young men (only men) keep talking about ‘the party’, what it expects or allows? What are they to it? Or it to them? What loyalty do they owe it? And what loyalty has it shown them?
It seems to me that the most significant divide in our politics is not in the very slight difference between our political parties or the similar people they attract, but between those few who still think of politics in terms of party loyalty and the far larger number of us who find all this talk completely bewildering.Tags: Cambridge, Conservatives, Education, Oxford, Television, Universities, Westminster, William Hague