Sunday, October 06, 2019

Ann Widdecombe looked old-fashioned in the 1990s but was really the future

Embed from Getty Images

How we used to laugh at Ann Widdecombe when she was a government minister!

We didn't laugh at her politics, which were deeply unpleasant, but at her image. It was so hopelessly old fashioned.

As it turned out, Widdecombe was not old fashioned at all. She was an early adopter of a style that has since been deployed by a number of leading Conservatives.

The clue at the time was the number of her university contemporaries who told the press they did not recognise the young woman they knew then in the iron-clad virgin of the 1990s.

Because Widdecombe had turned herself into a cartoon character - a living exaggeration of certain characteristics that appealed to Tory voters and to Tory activists in particular.

Since then we have had Boris Johnson as a minor P.G. Wodehouse character, Jacob Rees-Mogg as Lord Snooty's grandfather and Geoffrey Cox as the famous actor you can't remember seeing in anything.

These personae are a calculated armour designed to disguise their wearers' politics and shield them from conventional criticism.

That is why people who think they are hurting Rees-Mogg by laughing at him for being behind the times are playing into his hands.

And it is why we should not have laughed at Ann Widdecombe.

No comments: