Evelyn Waugh

Aspirations of a Mugwump, by Evelyn Waugh

Aspirations of a Mugwump, by Evelyn Waugh
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'Mugwumps' are in the news today, after Boris Johnson used the term to describe Jeremy Corbyn. In the 2 October 1959 issue of The Spectator, Evelyn Waugh also used the term, when he wrote a piece entitled 'Aspirations of a Mugwump': 

I hope to see the Conservative Party return with a substantial majority. I have bitter memories of the Attlee-Cripps regime when the kingdom seemed to be under enemy occupation. I recognise that individually some of the Liberal candidates are more worthy than many of the Conservatives, but any advantage to them can only produce deplorable instability. I have met, seen or heard very few leading politicians; of those I know the Conservatives seem altogether more competent than their opponents.

I have never voted in a parliamentary election. I shall not vote this year. I shall never vote unless a moral or religious issue is involved (e.g., the suppression of Catholic schools). Great Britain is not a democracy. All authority emanates from the Crown. Judges, Anglican bishops, soldiers, sailors, ambassadors, the Poet Laureate, the postman and especially Ministers exist by the royal will. In the last three hundred years, particularly in the last hundred, the Crown has adopted what seems to me a very hazardous process of choosing advisers; popular election. Many great evils have resulted, but the expectation of a change of method in my lifetime is pure fantasy.

Crowned heads proverbially lie uneasy. By usurping sovereignty the peoples of many civilised nations have incurred a restless and frustrated sense of responsibility which interferes with their proper work of earning their livings and educating their children. If I voted for the Conservative Party and they were elected, I should feel that I was morally inculpated in their follies— such as their choice of Regius professors; if they failed, I should have made submission to Socialist oppression by admitting the validity of popular election. I do not aspire to advise my Sovereign in her choice of servants.