Simon Schama on Michael Howard:
Then came the really worrying bit. The Somewhat Beloved Leader’s voice dropped, the eyes moistened, the smile widened. Acute observers could instantly recognise the onset of a Sincerity Attack. “I love my country.” Then he told us how he truly feels. About himself. About Britain. Proud. Immigrant roots. State school. Really proud. Work hard. Do well. What Britain’s all about. Not layabout.
But wait, there’s more:
This sort of thing is of course obligatory for American campaigns where the “story” of the candidate; a combination of autobiographical confession and patriotic profession, is the sine qua non of “making a connection with the voters”. But in Ashford, among the flowery frocks and jackets flecked with doghair, the narrative seemed wetly embarrassing. Then exit to reprise of Victory at Sea and sustained (if not exactly deafening) applause. The faithful were giddy with excitement. Well, almost all of them. One loyalist with a bottle-green flying-ducks tie, was still barking over the State of the Country. “Are you optimistic about Thursday?” I asked tentatively. “I TRY to be,” he conceded, “though I was going to desert the sinking ship.” “Where to?” “Montenegro.” “Montenegro?” “Yes, Montenegro. Not many people know this, but the wine is wonderful and -” (he whispered confidentially) “- they have the most beautiful women in the world. Though, of course they do tend to be a bit hairy.”
Lovely piece, reminding one that however grubby British elections may appear, they are a world apart from what passes for political campaigning in the US.