Alex Massie

The Animal House Test

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There's lots of sense in Matt d'Ancona's most recent column, not least his implied warning that if the Tories tack to the right this will, no matter how much it appeals to the base, be a terrible mistake for Dave and his boys. Whether you like it or not - and plenty of Spectator readers* don't, I fancy - such a move at this stage of the election cycle would delight the Labour party. Because it would prove what some of them really think anyway: the Tories really haven't changed at all. They're the same old nasty, service-cutting, intolerant, weird bunch you've rejected three times in a row. That's a story Labour want to tell and one that might have some merit too.

No, I'm afrad moving to the right would undermine the entire Cameroon idea and make a nonsense of the long, painful, diffuclt, decontamination process. It would represent a defeat, not a triumph of common sense no matter how much it might cheer the punters in the cheap seats. And even if it were sensible or desirable it's too late. That ship sailed long ago and is out of sight.

So there's plenty to commend Matt's column not least because he is, I think, right to suggest that this must now be a Gordon vs Dave contest, not a Tory vs Labour one. But there's one odd passage:

Whenever I give a presentation on politics, I use what I call my Kent Dorfman slide. There is a scene in National Lampoon's Animal House, you may recall, when the Delta House pledge committee is considering its candidates: up comes the slide of Kent "Flounder" Dorfman's pudgy features, and the entire room erupts in horror, objects are thrown, people scream. That is pretty much the effect that Gordon Brown's picture now has on an audience.


Animal House

Kent "Flounder" Dorfman is actually and duly elected to membership of the Delta House

So I think Matt needs to rethink this particular slide. I mean, surely Gordon is a Dean Wormer type? And if so then does that make Dave the Otter figure? Sometimes these illustrations can run into trouble pretty quickly...

*Or at least plenty of the sub-section that leave comments.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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