The Paying Public Are Sick And Tired Of Being Ignored And Patronised. So Who Are The Real Swivel-Eyed Loons?
By Richard Littlejohn
When I saw the juxtaposition of ‘Feldman’ and ‘swivel-eyed loon’ in the same sentence, I immediately thought of the late Marty Feldman, the original swivel-eyed loon.
He was a brilliant comedian who co-wrote the legendary Frost Report ‘I look down on him’ sketch for John Cleese and the Two Ronnies and went on to star in the Mel Brooks movie Young Frankenstein.
Feldman was one of my comedy heroes, famous for anarchic, surreal skits, including The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Golfer and Everybody Back On The Coach. You can find them both on YouTube.
The original swivel-eyed loon: I've no idea if Andrew Feldman is any relation to Marty Feldman (pictured). But he's the man in the headlines after allegedly describing Tory activists as 'swivel-eyed loons'
His trademark bulging eyes were the result of a condition called Graves Disease and made him look like a frog being given a prostate examination.
I’ve no idea if Andrew Feldman is any relation. But he’s the man in the headlines after allegedly describing Tory activists as ‘swivel-eyed loons’.
Lord Feldman, a Conservative co-chairman, is said to have used the derogatory expression to describe party members opposed to Call Me Dave’s ‘modernisation’ programme.
He denies making the throwaway remark. Two national newspaper reporters swear that he did, while on his way to the washroom in a fashionable Westminster bar called the Blue Boar — which sounds like the tavern in another Mel Brooks movie, Robin Hood: Men In Tights.
One of the journalists taunted him about that day’s backbench rebellion in the Commons after 114 Tory MPs voted against the Queen’s Speech in protest about the delay in holding a referendum on Britain’s EU membership.
Feldman is reported to have said that the problem wasn’t so much the MPs as the ‘swivel-eyed loons’ in the constituencies, already at odds with the Prime Minister over his inexplicable obsession with windmills and gay marriage.
Sounds about right. Cameron’s withering contempt for most of his own party’s traditional supporters is hardly a well-kept secret.
But there’s nothing the Boys In The Bubble love more than a good old-fashioned ‘Tory Split’ shock horror. Because Feldman is an old mate of Dave’s, anything he says is bound to be taken as the official leadership line.
With UKIP on the march, siphoning off Conservative voters, here was a heaven-sent ‘scandal’ on a quiet news day, a perfect opportunity to make mischief.
Cameron's withering contempt for most of his own party's traditional supporters is hardly a well-kept secret
In the scheme of things, a bit of Westminster banter is hardly the scoop of the century. Even if Feldman was quoted accurately, he wasn’t telling anyone anything they didn’t know already.
Cameron is on record describing UKIP as a bunch of racist fruitcakes. Given that there isn’t a cigarette paper between Nigel Farage’s policies and the beliefs of 95 per cent of Conservative Party members, it’s reasonable to assume that Dave has a similar view of his own activists.
So why the big fuss? And does any of it matter?
Ask me one on sport.
Superficially, this is another of those flammed-up political rows which have absolutely no resonance beyond the Bubble.
How many conversations have you had about gay marriage or Tory splits over the weekend? Precisely.
Me neither, other than to wonder why certain sections of my trade seem to have taken leave of their senses over the rise of UKIP.
Feldman's alleged remark, whether or not he said it, is the default position of the political class towards the world outside the Westminster madhouse
For instance, on Friday I was chained to my desk writing Saturday’s essay about Peter Mandelson’s admission that Labour ‘sent out search parties’ for immigrants, so I hadn’t bothered to watch the news all day.
At 6pm, I switched on the TV to discover that, according to the BBC, the most important thing which had happened in the world over the past 24 hours was Nigel Farage being heckled in Edinburgh by half a dozen students and a nutter with a ‘transphobia’ placard.
It was the same over on Channel 4 an hour later. This squalid little encounter was being blown up into a major international incident.
They’d rounded up some sour-faced lemon-sucker from the SNP, and a UKIP blazer with a comedy moustache from central casting. The aim was not to criticise the thuggish demonstrators but to discredit UKIP as a bunch of, er, swivel-eyed loons.
At one stage, the priggish Krishnan Guru-Murthy indignantly challenged the bemused bloke in the blazer to denounce an obscure UKIP activist who had allegedly written on his blog that women shouldn’t be allowed to wear trousers.
Pure comedy gold, worthy of Marty Feldman.
BAFTAs all round next year.
And yet. There’s something going on here and you don’t know what it is, do you Mr Guru-Murthy?
Andrew Feldman’s alleged remark, whether or not he said it, is the default position of the political class towards the world outside the Westminster madhouse.
The views of the great unwashed really are held in contempt by the self-styled sophisticates in their hermetically sealed bubble.
This derision isn’t confined to the Conservatives. The entire political class is equally guilty. Labour — especially the New Labour rump — despises most of its own voters.
But Call Me Dave is in greatest danger, because Tory supporters now have somewhere else to go.
Being perceived as pouring scorn on the door-knockers, stamp-lickers and envelope-stuffers who help turn out the vote across the country is electoral suicide.
UKIP's upward trajectory has little to do with Europe. It's more about the widespread feeling that the agendas of the main political parties are diametrically opposed to the demands of the paying public
As I wrote in the run-up to the council elections, people are sick and tired of being ignored and patronised. UKIP’s upward trajectory has little to do with Europe. It’s more about the widespread feeling that the agendas of the main political parties are diametrically opposed to the demands of the paying public.
People look at their energy bills and wonder why the hell they are being forced by law to pay hundreds of pounds a year to subsidise useless wind turbines.
Most voters couldn’t give a monkey’s about gay marriage but are mystified why it has been elevated to quasi-religious status by Cameron.
They simply can’t understand why, at a time of austerity, the Government has ring-fenced billions of pounds in overseas aid given to often corrupt foreign regimes.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the real swivel-eyed loons are all inside the Westminster Bubble.
Yet raise any doubts about the latest political fads and fetishes and you find yourself smeared as a ‘phobe’, or dismissed as a headbanger. Farage has cleverly filled the vacuum, offering a home to the disenchanted and disenfranchised.
But he must be careful not to overplay his hand. His full-page newspaper advert yesterday mocking mainstream politicians as a bunch of ‘college kids’, however accurate, looked dangerously like a man taking the proverbial.
He should beware hubris. Farage is nobody’s loon, but his eyes do have more than a hint of swivel.
Come to think of it, after a few pints he could probably do a passable impression of Marty Feldman.
Everybody back on the coach.
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