There’s a certain influential section of the middle class that longs for spiritual authority figures to take control of our messy lives and ‘heal’ us all. But as traditional religion has waned in recent decades, politicians are more than ever filling that space. Barack Obama was the most obvious such figure of recent years, with his wafty-but-vacuous speeches. Rod ‘Rory’ Stewart is fast becoming the latest British one:
Why Rory Stewart is exactly what the nation needs …
But listening to Rory Stewart launch his leadership campaign, I was briefly reminded that not all MPs are venal, self-serving, and incapable of expressing empathy. Here was a man who spoke of positivity and action, and most controversially of all, of love.
When asked by a young transgender person what he planned to do about the politics of negativism that have turned this country from a comforting bell shape, most of us in the middle, to a polarised U shape, Stewart answered with sincerity. He said he would “embrace you, welcome you…” and added how important it was “in our society to cherish each other, how much we should respect each other’s identity. And this is about…” Stewart paused for a moment. “It’s about listening, and I’m afraid it’s about love.” As in, there isn’t much of it around right now.
Bryony Gordon is exactly the sort of person to be taken in by this sort of con-man. Dippy and depressive, and, behind the cynical facade, hungry for something shinier and happier, preferably something all surface so she doesn’t have to worry about things not being so rosy when you dig down deeper. This is exactly the way seemingly sane people talked about St Obama when he twigged that empty platitudes made the middle classes swoon.
And of course Bryony hasn’t noticed that most of the nation is not in need of anything remotely resembling a Rory Stewart figure in their lives. They’ve been screwed over for years by people like Rory Stewart, and what they’re desperate for is an anti-Rory, a plain-speaking rebel who’ll get them out of the corner they’ve been boxed into by the exact Establishment policies that Stewart wants to continue. That’s why Nigel Farage, seemingly yesterday’s figure, has come back to life so dramatically. But she doesn’t appreciate that because she lives in her own bubble.
Listening! Love! Had I just stumbled across some sort of inspirational Ted talk by a peace activist? I mean, the whole thing did take place in a circus tent. But no, this was real, this was happening, this was a leadership candidate who spoke of hope and possibility and wanted to unite through faith not fear.
How exactly is he going to unite us? Take those people who throw milkshakes at politicians. Or those people who want to jail anyone who denies that men can be women. Is Rory Stewart getting them and their enemies all together in a big circus tent and saying he loves them all going to unite them? Is he going to unite the people who want a large increase in the minimum wage with those people who think the minimum wage is pointless? Is he going to unite the Barclay brothers with Sir Philip Green?
Stewart is just the latest hyper-Establishment figure trying to flim-flam middle-class suckers, and that’s why the media is desperately bigging him up. He’s the new Tony Blair. Luckily enough people, I think, have woken up and are no longer in the mood for that BS.