What is it that people don’t like about traditional politics?
It may be the stuffiness according to Labour’s brash if not gobby wunderkind Laura Pidcock MP who revels in the displeasure of parliamentary old hands in a not dissimilar way to Margaret Thatcher did on her election in 1959.
The 33-year-old young mum of twins, research scientist and barrister was famously said to have been shown a room in the Commons where lady members could do their ironing.
She gave the ironing a pass and then managed to use her maiden speech (traditional just for new member pleasantries) to get a bill through parliament giving the press and public right of access to local council meetings.
I doubt Ms Pidcock would appreciate the comparison, but I suspect Mrs T would have had a smile on her lips at the way Ms Pidcock is poking a stick at the Establishment, although she would not have appreciated her tone, or her lack of awareness of history and disrespect to Mrs T’s hero Winston Churchill.
Mrs T didn’t have much time for old politics either. That was a huge part of her appeal to those of us who were attracted to become active in politics by her clarion call to a shake up her party and later the whole country, and not an insignificant shaking up of politics world-wide.
Younger readers who don’t know their history well and only know the Mrs T caricature may think this sounds a strange way to characterise Mrs T and her politics. Many see her as the Establishment. They think her “posh” and a sort of Mary Whitehouse type middle class lady with a handbag.
But Mrs T was not a member of the club.
She was the daughter of a corner shop grocer, she was state school educated, she had no background or breeding, and she was of course – a woman. And when she became an MP a very young woman in politics for the times.
The assault on the Conservative Party by the people who would become known as the Thatcherites was every bit as radical as the hard left socialist take-over of the Labour Party from Jeremy Corbyn’s Momentum.
Many of us who joined the Conservative Party under Mrs T would not have joined before and have not been enthusiastic members, or members at all, since.
Ironically Mr Corbyn is not an outsider at all.
He is very Establishment, albeit a lolling on the backbenches doing nothing for 35 years kind of Establishment, but he is a parliament in the veins man.
He hasn’t really done anything else. But because he has been more or less invisible for his entire political career, to a younger generation he has appeared as if from nowhere, a new Tribune.
We liked our outsider tribunes in the Conservative Party in the 1970s, first rallying behind Enoch Powell, then Keith Joseph and finally Margaret Thatcher.
We were as untraditional to the Conservative Party as the Corbynistas are to Labour.
If Mrs T had been ‘invented’ as the new leader in 2015 and not 1975 I imagine we would have had a grassroots and online movement on the right to rival the Corbyn inspired one now on the left. Such movements arise when outsiders see a door open to politics, or sometimes kick it in.
In the US, the movement behind President Trump is not from the Republican Party whose badge he wears.
This is a populist uprising of political outsiders. The President communicates if not actually governs by Twitter, he cerainly uses this unorthodox organ of diplomacy to mix it up with other world leaders.
The political Establishment from Republicans and Democrats alike are horrified.
It’s as though Daphne Moon’s gauche English brother has crashed Frasier Crane’s country club.
In France, President Macron and his “New Power” politics is said to represent “youthism” running a country with a new enthusiasm and freshness which at least superficially seems to be sweeping The Old Guard aside.
En Marche is a new party created just for the purpose with political virgins taking on offices of state.
These are bold experiments in new styles of politics. Their commonality is their actual or perceived anti-Establishmentarian bent.
People, ordinary people – that is the 99% of the population who don’t join political parties in the UK, are generally turned off by political party clubbiness that doesn’t seem to relate to their world.
Ms Pidcock (even her name is a gift!) may think that she and her generation have discovered this for the first time.
The truth is that rather in the way that each generations parents complain that the popular musical taste of their of their offspring involves ‘songs without proper words,’ each generations parents view of how politics should be played out, really doesn’t work for their offspring.
Of course change is at the behest of the access and immediacy afforded by technology, the greater sense of classlessness we enjoy, and the opening up of our parliament to a more diverse and arguably more representative cadre of MPs. But I think it’s more than that, it’s generational.
It is the job of each younger generation to challenge the certainties and arrogance of the previous ones.
Although I despair at Ms Pidcock’s odd political purism of not wanting to make or even be friends Across the Floor, because I think friendship is more important than politics, putting that immaturity aside, I’d say as Mrs T used to say (with no awareness of the humour involved) “Everybody needs a Willy” (meaning William Whitelaw), maybe we all need a Pidcock (Titter Ye Not)… just to shake things up.
Mrs T told me once “we do not change things to win elections, we win elections so we can change things.” Shaking things up in politics is always a good thing. Politics is the business of change, and things don’t change without a Pidcock or two.