Monday, 29 September 2014

Why was Brooks Newmark appointed as a Conservative minister in the first place? Pretty stupid politics.

I am against barring politicians from office because of their social or economic background. But why David Cameron would deliberately promote someone like Brooks Newmark is a mystery. One of the main criticisms levelled at the Conservative Party is that there are too many smooth rich Oxbridge-educated posh boys at the top of it. David Cameron – a prime example of the breed – knows this. So, earlier this year, when he was looking for someone to push his moribund “Big Society” policy, why did he choose a chap guaranteed to reinforce swing-voters’ doubts about the Tories?

Newmark is a super-rich former banker – which means he’s a member of one of the most hated minorities in this country. As if that’s not bad enough, he was once vice-president of the international division of Shearson Lehman Brothers. Ring any bells? He lives in a £15m house in Belgravia, so it’s unlikely he’s truly feeling our pain. His Braintree constituency home is described as a “mansion”. He was educated at Harvard and Oxford, and received an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is a personal friend of that appalling blister, US Secretary of State John Kerry.

There is nothing wrong with being well-educated, well-connected, rich and successful. Perhaps we should be grateful that someone of Newmark’s background should willingly take on the rather thankless task of being an MP – after all, rich people have as much right to political representation as the rest of us, and – with any luck – have some brains into the bargain. But why make him a minister, albeit with a laughably pointless, footling brief? Cameron (or Osborne – I have no idea whose creature Newmark was) must know that it’s the Newmarks of this world who, while they may very well appeal to the voters in their constituencies, and may indeed be excellent constituency MPs, get right up the noses of the very voters the party must attract in order to have any hope of winning the next election.

What is there about Brooks Newmark that could possibly make a disaffected Lib Dem or Labour voter think – “Know what? I’ve always hated the Tories, and I’ve lost faith in my party. But I really like the cut of this fantastically rich Oxbridge banker’s jib. Politics definitely needs more people with £15m mansions in Belgravia. So I’ll definitely be voting Conservative next time round!” Let’s face it, any traditional Tory thinking of voting UKIP would only need to read Newmark’s CV and he’d jump ship in a trice.

Notice I haven’t even mentioned the sin for which Newmark has been forced to resign – i.e. sharing pictures of his chopper on social media. That’s not really the point (as it were) - politicians are always getting into trouble for doing inexplicably stupid things. No, it’s the fact that the party hierarchy thought it would be sensible to promote (albeit to middling rank) someone who positively reeks of the smug elitist politico-business-media class which has helped turn the electorate against politics in recent years. I loathe the idea of institutions or governments having to reflect race, gender or financial demographics – that’s how you end up with nitwits like Baroness Warsi in senior positions. But if you imagine the answer to the wholesale political disaffection of the electorate with traditional parties is by promoting MPs who might just as well have been raised on a different planet from the rest of us is truly terrible politics.

Any more of this and – heaven forbid! – traditional Tory supporters (and even a few Conservative MPs) might even consider switching to another party!


  1. Why? In a word, stupidity. Oxbridge notwithstanding, I have come to he conclusion that Cameron is a deeply stupid man.

    1. I actually think he's intellectually pretty bright - but he evidently feels a mild upper-middle class contempt for unenlightened middle and lower-middle class people who he sees as perpetually stuck in life's loser lane. They're the very people Mrs.Thatcher respected, and who in return voted for her in droves. I'm convinced it's Cameron's attitiude - as much as Europe and immigration - that has led to the rapid rise of support for UKIP.

    2. One of my chums down here in Glos was driving his own son and young Cameron both (aged about 14) back to Eton after an exeat.
      'Well' said my chum, ' What are you career plans Cameron?'
      'Actually, sir, I want to be Prime Minister.'
      Some people want to be astronauts or Olympic athletes...but our Dave......
      I agree with you about his view of the other ranks but he has led such a privileged existence and married into the gentry that he could never have had nor ever will experience the life of the common man as did Mrs Thatcher - the grocer's daughter. Indeed, any attempts by him to rub shoulders with the man on the Clapham omnibus would be ridiculed.
      Farage, a Dulwich Old Boy, from a stockbroker family at least worked for some while outside the rarefied world of politics and he plays the part of the bloke down the pub with huge vigour, obvious enjoyment and candour - the secret of his success? QED