Will non-voting “Worcester Woman” lose it for Brown AND Cameron?

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    27th March 2010


    But of course.

    That has been clear to me since the day Tony Blair said “That is that. The end.”

    And as the opinion polls tighten I am more sure now than ever.

    As Martin Wolf at the FT argues, in ‘Back to the future’ imperils Britain, our present mainstream political parties and leaders all lack the “vision thing”.


    “The party that deserves to win must craft a narrative and policy that creates opportunity out of disappointment. Competence is required, as is toughness. But the UK needs more than these qualities. It needs the “vision thing”, as well. I plan to discuss these challenges as this pivotal election draws nearer.

    But of course.

    That has been clear to me since the day Tony Blair…

    In November 2008 I also suggested something here about going “Back to The Future”, though in a different way from Mr Wolf.

    They did not listen and they’re not listening still … perhaps they never will. Excuse me for a second … I just love this song … beautiful words. Got to sing it to myself for a moment…

    Starry, starry night, paint your palette blue and grey – gold?

    OK, you’re right. Don McLean does it so much better


    Not yet announced but expected to be on 6th May 2010, Tony Blair’s birthday, as it happens. Tempting fate, Mr Brown.

    Here, in the omnipresent vacuity of political “vision” (if that’s not a contradiction in terms), this BBC article looks at those who were said to have won it for Blair in 1997, 2001 and 2005.


    “Do you remember Worcester Woman? She was the voter some pollsters claimed was crucial to Tony Blair’s election victory in 1997.

    She takes her place in a minibus full of political shorthand.

    There are seats in there for Mondeo Man, Holby City Woman, Motorway Man and Basildon Man – near mythical creatures that have each in recent elections, it is said, held the tenancy agreement to Downing Street.

    They are floating voters in marginal seats that are wooed, charmed and flattered by politicians.

    So let me introduce you to Sally Langfield, 51, from St Johns in Worcester.”

    “Back in 1997 I voted for Tony Blair,” she says, whilst keeping a watchful eye on two toddlers playing a few yards away.

    “I liked him as a man, I thought he was very charismatic and I took an interest in his policies. Prior to that I had voted for different parties – both Conservative and Labour – depending on their policies at the time.”

    On Gordon Brown: “No charisma and quite boring”
    On David Cameron: “Not very believable”
    On Nick Clegg: “Who is he?”


    So, more than a decade later, what does Sally Langfield make of what’s on offer this time?

    “Gordon Brown, bless him, he’s got no charisma and he is quite boring. I know he is a clever chap but he doesn’t fill me full of enthusiasm.

    “As for David Cameron, I find him very smug. I know there have been references to him being very similar to Tony Blair but I find him very smug and not very believable.”

    Worcester cathedral

    Will Worcester hold the key to the election again?

    The leader of the Liberal Democrats fares no better in her estimations.

    “And what about Nick Clegg? Well, who is he?” she adds pithily.

    Couple the end of ideology with the MPs’ expenses scandal, and Sally feels politically disorientated. Frustrated, confused, disengaged and turned-off.

    But don’t blame this on apathy. She is fully engaged in what is going on locally, is committed to her family, and committed to her community.

    “At this stage I am in quandary as to whether I am going to vote at all,” she concludes.

    “There is not much to choose between the parties or the leaders, but in bred into me is this thing that I should vote, I should do the right thing. I can’t complain about things if I don’t do something about it, but I will struggle to choose, and I may well not vote, sadly.”



    Lyrics – ‘Starry, Starry Night’ (Vincent)

    Starry, starry night.
    Paint your palette blue and grey,
    Look out on a summer’s day,
    With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.
    Shadows on the hills,
    Sketch the trees and the daffodils,
    Catch the breeze and the winter chills,
    In colors on the snowy linen land.

    Now I understand what you tried to say to me,
    And how you suffered for your sanity,
    And how you tried to set them free.
    They would not listen, they did not know how.
    Perhaps they’ll listen now.

    Starry, starry night.
    Flaming flowers that brightly blaze,
    Swirling clouds in violet haze,
    Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue.
    Colors changing hue, morning fields of amber grain,
    Weathered faces lined in pain,
    Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand.

    Now I understand what you tried to say to me,
    And how you suffered for your sanity,
    And how you tried to set them free.
    They would not listen, they did not know how.
    Perhaps they’ll listen now.

    For they could not love you,
    But still your love was true.
    And when no hope was left in sight
    On that starry, starry night,
    You took your life, as lovers often do.
    But I could have told you, Vincent,
    This world was never meant for one
    As beautiful as you.

    Starry, starry night.
    Portraits hung in empty halls,
    Frameless heads on nameless walls,
    With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget.
    Like the strangers that you’ve met,
    The ragged men in ragged clothes,
    The silver thorn of bloody rose,
    Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow.

    Now I think I know what you tried to say to me,
    And how you suffered for your sanity,
    And how you tried to set them free.
    They would not listen, they’re not listening still.
    Perhaps they never will…

    Back to where you were


    This beautiful lyric is one of my favourites of all time. Not, in case you’re wondering, because some of it is possibly  transferable to my political hero.  I have always loved it. I love the poetry and everything it says because it is so painfully, gut-wrenchingly accurate. It is an insight into humankind as we grapple with the complexities of life and death.

    It is worth noting some links. Vincent Van Gogh was the brother of Theo. Theo was four years younger than Vincent and died, at 33, just a few months after Vincent. Theo had also suffered form mental health issues. He was the great-grandfather of film-maker Theo Van Gogh who was brutally killed in 2004 in his own land by an Islamist fundamentalist.  Destroyed for his art.

    Tony Blair was politically destroyed in his own land for fighting Islamist fundamentalism.

    Now I think I know what you tried to say to me, And how you suffered for your sanity, And how you tried to set them free. They would not listen, they’re not listening still. Perhaps they never will…

    The artist doesn’t need to be holding a paintbrush or camera to show us the world. Sadly, it’s common for us not to appreciate the artistry until the artist has long departed the scene.

    So perhaps I do see some resonance as regards Tony Blair in the history of this artistic Dutch family.

    Or am I just being sentimental with this linkage?

    All right. I heard you.

    Given a choice between endless cynicism or sentimentality, I thank all that’s human for the ‘artist’ and the picture he shows us.

    Don McLean on why he had to write “Vincent” and Don McLean website

    See – ‘Van Gogh: To Murder a Dutch artist is to Murder Freedom’

    P.S. Just noticed a new comment at the Ban Blair-Baiting petition, (no 622):

    “Is TB the last of a breed?-Who of any quality would take up politics now. I hope He finds satisfaction in the political afterlife.”


    Brown says he’ll keep Darling as Chancellor (Guardian). This is their artistic message… er, pledge card. What was that I was saying about “artists”? Not quite Van Gogh

    And what was that about “vision”?

    Not quite Tony Blair.

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    One Response to “Will non-voting “Worcester Woman” lose it for Brown AND Cameron?”

    1. ‘Dave the Save’ says, “40 Days and 40 Nights, or it’s the Wilderness for you lot. AGAIN!” « Tony Blair Says:

      […] David answered, “It is written in The Sun and now the NOW: ‘Voters do not cast a cross by looks alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the King.” […]

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