The Spectator's Notes

Charles Moore’s Notes: Diane the Posh Goddess and Osborne’s mania

Plus: I still don’t see how it could have been Keith Joseph who made the racist slur

17 October 2015

8:00 AM

17 October 2015

8:00 AM

When I arrived at Cambridge in 1975, a nervous freshman, I remember walking with a friend past Newnham and being introduced to a third-year undergraduate. She was attractive, witty, confident, well-connected, at home in the world of the ‘glittering prizes’ (the irritating phrase which gave its name to Frederick Raphael’s novel of that time). I envied her poise. Her name was Diane Abbott. Later, making many sacrifices for her career, she changed her accent, became ‘working-class’, and had a relationship with Jeremy Corbyn, but for me she will always be Diane, the posh goddess. So perhaps I am biased, but hearing her on the Today programme on Tuesday attacking George Osborne’s ‘charter’ which will force all future governments to maintain a budget surplus, I reckoned she was right. What is this mania for making laws about what should be matters of policy? We are committed by law, for example, to make international development spending correspond with a particular percentage of GDP. Now Mr Osborne wants to make it illegal to run a deficit under certain conditions. No government should be bound in this way. As so often, the Chancellor is just playing political games to embarrass his opponents and, thanks to a lazy and sycophantic media, succeeding.

My search (see previous Notes) for whether or not Sir Keith Joseph could possibly, in 1964, have told the future Professor Sir Geoff Palmer to go home to Trinidad and grow bananas, is encountering almost hysterical resistance. When the Centre for Policy Studies, the think-tank which Joseph founded, took up his cause and arranged to speak to Sir Geoff on the telephone, he had an ‘Equality officer’ present. In a subsequent email to the CPS, Sir Geoff heads his letter ‘Palmer vs Moore and Sir Keith Joseph’ as if this were a legal case, and describes what I am saying as ‘untenable evidence against me’. A friend also drew my attention to a new passage in the Wikipedia entry on Sir Geoff (now re-edited). It said, among other things, that my comments about Sir Geoff were ‘prejudicial’, my ‘evidence’ was ‘false and irrelevant’, and spoke of ‘the charge of racism against Moore’. My comments were ‘the kind of injustice that Black and Ethnic Minority People (BME) have to face in this society’. We have traced the author of this Wiki edit. He is called ‘BS Edinburgh’ and he has edited other Wiki entries about Sir Geoff and one about an Edinburgh businessman called Foysol Choudhury. There are nice pictures on Facebook of Mr Choudhury smiling for the cameras with Sir Geoff. My message to Sir Geoff and all his friends is that I am not doubting his honesty. I am no more launching a racist attack on him than he is on another BME person (the Jewish Keith Joseph). My position is simple: it is extraordinarily unlikely that the Cabinet minister in charge of Housing and Local Government in 1964 (or a shadow spokesman from October of that year) could have been on a panel selecting a potential agriculture MSc student for Nottingham University, for several reasons already stated in previous Notes. It is also inconceivable to Keith Joseph’s friends that he would ever have spoken in the unpleasant way that Sir Geoff recalls. So my guess is that Sir Geoff accurately remembers what was said — the words must have struck him painfully — but is mistaken about who spoke them. In this age of Wiki-accusation, it is important that the memory of Keith Joseph is not unwittingly libelled. Sir Geoff should calm down and see if we can find out who actually was on that panel, or at least accept that Joseph could not have been.

Two recent deaths which prove that, in our Sussex parish, all human life is here. The first is of the Dowager Lady Killearn, aged 105. She was a half-Italian beauty, who was 30 years younger and about 14 inches shorter than her husband, Miles Lampson (later Lord Killearn), who effectively ran Egypt before and during the second world war. She appeared on the front of Time magazine in 1942, pictured with Winston Churchill and her baby son in the Cairo embassy garden, shortly before Alamein, to symbolise hope. When we moved into the village in 1996, I told Denis Thatcher, who knew the place, that she was our neighbour. ‘Jackie Killearn still alive!’ he exclaimed, ‘She must be as old as the bloody Virgin Mary.’ She had a rather different lifestyle from Our Lady, being accused by her disgruntled butler of sharing a bed with a married man in her late nineties. She quite often rang me, ‘Why don’t you ask me to your madly gay parties?’ she would complain. She was infuriating to talk to about the past, because she preferred to avoid it, and hurl herself into the present. What secrets she must have taken to her grave.

The other death is of Brian Morris, aged 75. He was a type that has almost vanished, an out-and-out countryman, who lived all his life in the house where he was born. During the war, Brian’s father once decided, to his wife’s consternation, not to take his weekly Sunday-night bath in a tub in the kitchen because he was so tired by hay-making. A spent shell smashed through the ceiling and hit where the tub always stood, so his was a life-saving decision. Brian, who never married or travelled, knew everything about the village, including where every drain was. Above all, being a gardener, he knew what grew. As everyone (including us) who had ever employed him agreed, he exercised a curious power over his titular bosses, saying ‘We might do x’, when he meant ‘I shall do x’. When we arrived, Brian was paid £3 an hour. I said to him that this was too little. He glared angrily at me: ‘I decide what I charge,’ he said: his self-imposed poverty made him mightier still. Brian lived near Bateman’s, Rudyard Kipling’s house. At the funeral, ‘The Glory of the Garden’ was the natural choice. The lines fitted: ‘Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made/ By singing: — “Oh, how beautiful!” and sitting in the shade,/ While better men than we go out and start their working lives/ At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinner-knives…’.

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  • ViolinSonaten b minor.

    Oh come on Charles, Dianne Abbot a Goddess and attractive, maybe less time in the pub whilst
    a student. And don’t you know to become ‘ working class’ n is the modern fad, they’re not real
    totally fake. The opposite to My Fair Lady.
    And the George Osborne remark puts you in the minority of public opinion who believe Labour cannot be trusted with the economy and will always spend more then others will earn, its about

    • Bonkim

      Dianne Abbott must have been attractive once. And a future Chancellor could well change the law on deficits again.

      • ViolinSonaten b minor.

        There were photos of her in the newspaper with Corbyn when she was younger.
        She wasn’t ugly but you couldn’t say see was attractive or pretty, but she’s not aged too well. Yes future chancellors can change the law again, but it makes a point about the current bunch and they don’t even want to give the appearance of responsibility let
        alone mean it, as you say they can change.

  • MikeF

    ‘charge’ – a word the left love to level against anyone who says, or they claim says, anything they dislike or disagree with. As you point out it has a legalistic air about it that lends it a spurious gravity when the reality, of course, is that it usually denotes an allegation that is not supported by any evidence. But once the word ‘racism’ gets involved then that requirement becomes superfluous in any case – to be accused of it is to be found guilty these days. By the way an odd point about the term ‘Black and Ethnic Minority’ – that word ‘and’ seems to imply that ‘Black’ people are in some way distinct from other people who can legitimately be described as ‘Ethnic Minority’. It implies a claim to a distinctiveness that is, well what other word is appropriate, ‘racist’.

  • Richard Eldritch

    So Diane Abbot is in fact a very handsome women with an intellect to match? Who’d have thunk it….

  • Donafugata

    Abbott can never, by any stretch of the imagination, have been considered a goddess.

    Someone once asked the Spice Girl, “Why exactly do they call you posh?”
    Equally appropriate question for DA.

    • Atlas

      She likes living in big expensive houses, drinking expensive wine and sending her children to private schools. Additionally shes a racist. Actually rather reminiscent of a 19th century aristocrat.

  • Irishvoice

    Good old eugenics Keith Joseph “The balance of our population, our human stock is threatened. A recent article in Poverty, published by the Child Poverty Action Group, showed that a high and rising proportion of children are being born to mothers least fitted to bring children into the world and bring them up. They are born to mother who were first pregnant in adolescence in social classes 4 and 5.” If Diane Abbot had made such a statement their would have been hell to pay.

    • Sean L

      Which part of what Keith Joseph said isn’t true? Why invoke Diane Abbott? She’d be the last person to even broach that subject. Lower class single mothers being the salt of her earth.

    • Tom M

      Following that remark by Keith Joseph I think there was hell to pay. Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t that scupper his chances of the Tory leadership? Personally, as with Powell’s famous speech, I see nothing wrong with what either of them have said.
      Anyway, in respect of Diane Abbot and such a statement, have a look at the video clip above posted by ADW and see what she said about the superiority of West Indian mums and how she tried to wriggle out of it.

      • Both Joseph and Powell were right. In particular Powell was a man who saw the world as it is. This nation and its culture have been, are being and will be in the end entirely destroyed by mass migration of people with a strong and militant adherence to cultural values which are utterly incompatible with traditional British values. There is no question that this is true. By the way, in case anyone wants to characterise me as some old fashioned Tory xenophobe – two sets of my great grandparents were European economic migrants. They came here at the end of the nineteenth century. Moderate levels of migration are a good thing, as long as the people who come are prepared to fit in and won’t demand that we must make Britain into a sort of Middle East with welfare.

  • Landphil

    Mugabe in drag.

    • Atlas

      Diane Abbott is hypocritcal champagne socialist and a racist. She is the poster child for everything that has gone wrong with the British left.

  • FrankS2

    In what sense is this budget surplus ‘law’ actually a law? Who is bound by it, who could bind them to it? As with the Climate Change Act and the Foreign Aid commitment, which are said to be legally binding – does it amount to anything more than a statement of intent?
    How can Parliament bind its successors? I thought it could not. Is this latest display of “legally binding” by Osborne just an empty gesture?

    • These moves to legislate on such matters are about as sensible as the Ed Stone was – ie not sensible at all.

  • Philip Gaffey

    Charles Moore [whom otherwise I admire] says that “it is important that the memory of Keith Joseph is not unwittingly libelled.” Quite right, Charles. We must avoid the kind of thing you did to Seamus Heaney a week after he died!

  • ADW

    Come on, Dianne Abbott gave us this magnificent piece of comedy gold, so frankly she’s worth every penny of public money (and, as you’ll discover, there were quite a lot of said pennies):

    • That was interesting viewing. I am wondering how she retained her cool under such a barrage, and also how she managed to continue to appear on the show. If that had been me, I would never have trusted Neil again. I’m sure I’ve seen her simpering at Neil a few times since 2010.

      • Thomas

        If there’s anything you can say about Diane Abbott, she’s prepared to take a political beating and pretend she still smells of roses afterwards.

  • George

    Practically everything about Dianne Abbott—her boring monotone, her perfunctory leftist jargon on all issues, the private schooling for her offspring—they all strike me as the hallmarks of someone who believes in nothing or nobody but herself.

    She is, I would suggest, both for her constituents and for the Labour Party, a token black woman.

    As to Ms Abbott’s years studying history at Cambridge University—well, all I can say is, on University Challenge some years back Jeremy Paxman asked a question about the name of an Italian natural philosopher of the Seventeenth century (1623, I believe); Ms Abbott piped up with the answer : Albert Einstein.

  • Arthur Paulo Kamuntu

    Actually, if Ms DA stopped misrepresenting herself as my spokesman, I would not mind anything about her. She is a bloody bleeding racist without a future for redemption!!! She is too narcissistic by nature!!!

    • s nsubuga

      Thank you bros. Yes I think ur right am loosing hope! It takes a lot of courage and encouragementioned from brothers like you in this situation our country is in to be optimistic! My problem and I need to find a way of dealing with it, is that I take things to heart! The recent stripping of the FDC woman caused me so much stress which was manifested at home as well, as i went silent and didn’t talk to any one in my house all night!
      When I look at the power of those institutions at da mo, I loose hope!

      • Arthur Paulo Kamuntu

        I am glad that you also took the stripping of clothes off our sister, the FDC-Women Spokeswoman, so badly. Perhaps, our anger will awaken women like our Sister DA to campaign for the liberation of our Black/African political systems rather than her crying over nothing!!! DA, in her actions, arouses in me the hatred of all Black politicians who are mentally so diffuse that they have no identity of their own!!

        • s nsubuga

          I some how thrive on optimism from people like you and I also have just learned from you how someone else’s optimism can change and affect others! What you must know however is that optimism just like common sense wasn’t fairly distributed thx!