Tuesday 29 July 2008

Market Forces- A Political Offer

I suppose politics has always played a major role in my life, one way or another.
It's been a curious route that brought me to the political views I now hold.

During my early teens, my political opinions were simple. I liked the colour blue, and if there's one thing I knew, it was that Britain was a dire drab country in the seventies and now it was a land of showhomes.

Labour might have a lot of good sounding ideals, but when it came to running countries, it didn't work.
So the simple truth was, the Tories might not SEEM caring, sharing types, but they ran the country better.
And then along came Blair.

Well, I never liked him. At sixteen, I was convinced the man was the sleaziest, most dishonest, slimy con artist the country had ever seen.
And if he got in, he'd ruin it.

An I also figured that after ten years of Tony ruining the country, there would be a Tory landslide...

And I'd be exactly the right age to be a PPC.

Now, I suppose my views changed a lot during my years within the party. Up till the '97 election, I was all for privatising anything that could be privatised and leaving the EU. And that, really, was about it.

But University opens your mind. The '97 defeat opens your mind. The 18 year old youth who collared Peter Lilley at Bournemouth Railway station in '96 and told him he should stand for leader once Major had lost the election was starting to vastly alter their outlook.

But my real hero in those days, was of course, the one I still have a soft spot for. For many years he was my real hero, and in some ways, of course, his journey and mine have things in common.

Michael Portillo.

I was Vice-Chairman of the party at uni- hardly a great achievement given that the Labour party outnumbered us ten to one- and was even Chairman for a term or so until I found that spending all day in bed with Joanna was more interesting and the urgency of student union elections rather less pressing than a far off general election.

So I kind of became a dormant member of the party. I never quite dropped out, but frankly, I thought they were now unelectable, and unless something changed, I wasn't going to waste my time.

The return of Portillo to the fray woke me up again.

Because all the things he was now saying, were co-inciding with what I was now thinking.
If the Tory party really could shed that Old-school patrician image and genuinely become a centre-right party based on meritocracy, the comprehensive system and free from the old class/gender issues, free from back to basics and all that conservative with a small c stuff, I was back on board.

Roundabout this time, I was starting to try free myself from the concept of left-right politics and preferred to describe myself as a 'radical progressive' believing in small government.

And so I was back doorknocking, suit pristine, curls artfully done, blue rosette prominent.
And the party loved me. Of course they did. There still weren't many young people in the party then, and most of those fitted the 'Tory' boy image. I was exactly the image they wanted to show. A product of the comprehensive system, Thatcher's child from the classless meritocracy, flings out his hand to grasp your own and says 'Sorry to trouble you, I'm canvassing on behalf of X, the Conservative candidate, and I was hoping we might be able to count on your vote?' (Angelic smile, flutter of eyelashes).

I was good. A good doorstep campaigner. And though I rarely said overmuch at meetings on politics itself, I used to have a fair bit to say on tactics and groups we should be targeting.

But it should not be forgotten, these were also the days when my double life reached its heights.

This was right after Claire's abortion. I worked hard, played hard. I hardly ever went home.
I was using either Cocaine or Ecstasy most days, I was out clubbing every weekend, I have no idea even the names of half the girls I got acquainted with in toilet cubicles, I was completely out of control.

The irony was, that at this point I did ALMOST allow my name to go forward to stand for the council. But I decided to wait till the next year. Till my career was more secure.
Good job really, or had I won, there would have been a by-election...

A friend of mine actually stood that year- for Labour in Wolverhampton. I thought it was quite ironic. Ironic, because I had heard him say that he liked Labour because it had no 'isms'. He actually hated socialism. And the EU.

I actually pointed out that he disagreed with Old Labour on pretty much everything. In fact, he agreed with Blair on everything except the EU, which he wanted to leave, so didn't that actually make him a Tory?
I pointed out that on pretty much every social issue either of us could think of, I was completely opposed to the line my party took, and in fact, except on the issue of economic management, really, I had no place in the party I was a member of.

But he didn't want to be in a party of losers, and I didn't want to be in a party of sycophants.

They were funny times, a time of riding on the edge. The two lives I lived couldn't be further apart.

But the real point of this story, is a day those worlds collided and stared into eachother's eyes. And the pretence they were that far apart disappeared for an instant.

It was a Saturday afternoon.
I walked into the Star.
It was packed, the football was on.

I put two full bags of CDs onto the counter- I'd just spent £200 in HMV.
I probably looked a state. Hair, that looks like it does when sweat, spray and gel merge, face white and covered in dry perspiration, tight black t-shirt, tight black jeans.
Those were kind of the days I look back to, in terms of physical appearance. My early twenties were good years. Old enough for a slight rugged edge to set off the boyish ambiance, but not yet old enough to spoil it, as it has now.

And I was full of myself. I was someone who'd never really lost. Had knockbacks yes, but still thinks they're God's gift.

Anyway, I recognised him. God knows what he was doing in the Star- as spit and sawdust a workingmen's pub as you can get, but there he was, Treasurer of the branch Conservative party, tweed jacket and all, bemusing the punters with his drunken ramblings.

Anyway, I guessed it was polite not to see him. Pragmatic too. I hardly look the image I want the rest of the committee members to have of me.

Until he comes over 'I'm sure I know you from somewhere.'
I smiled 'You do, we meet at least once a month.'

He tilted his head back and went 'No! xxx? You look so different!'

I smiled 'Yes. Just got back from clubbing. This is where I come to spend my Saturday afternoons.'
He laughed 'Dirty stopout! Ooh, I shall have to tell Janet, you know Janet? (Not actually her name, she was the branch secretary, redhead, fifty odd but looked a LOT younger, slim, yes I would have done). Between you and me, she has a little thing about you!'
'Really?' I smiled. Useful information. Maybe a chance to mix business and pleasure.

'Ooh, yes!' He went on. 'Very much so! But don't let on I told you.'

Anyway, he bought me a drink and we got to talking. He was one of those who really did say way too much when drunk. Like the fact he was gay. Not that this came as a shock. That he trawled pubs like this looking for action because in these circles no one knew who I was. I told him he needn't worry- after all, I was in there myself recovering from an Ecstasy session.

And then came the offer 'You know, you could earn good money, you know, as a sideline. It's up to you. I have a friend. And he has a lot of money, I mean a lot. He'd pay good money for an afternoon in the Marriot with you.'

I swilled my pint 'Interesting. What are we talking, when we say good money?'

He looked me up and down 'You're just his type. He'd LOVE you. If you stayed the weekend, you could get two grand out of it. It's up to you. I can pass your number on, if you're interested.'

Do you know what?
I thought about it.

I smiled and ordered another pint.
'I'm not sure it's my thing. No offence, but I'm not sure about it. Thinks for the suggestion though. If times change, I'll let you know.'

And that was it. It was never alluded to again.

It's a funny thing you know. With most things, I've always at least tried it once. But I've never actually had a homosexual experience. Not once. And bearing in mind I've had numerous offers on that front, you'd have thought my natural curiosity would have got the better of me. If asked about my sexuality I tend to say that to date I've found numerous women who have taken my fancy, but as yet, no men. And that's how I prefer to describe it- I can't be done with the need to define myself as gay or straight.

But increasingly, there are times when I wonder if I shouldn't have tried it at some point. I mean, I doubt that I would suddenly have become a fully fledged Graham Norton, I don't buy that argument that people are lured over to the dark side by being exposed to it. I think it obvious that even if I had tried it, I would still, given the choice have remained an adherent of the whole having sex with women thing, but maybe the whole occasional sex with men thing could have become a novelty interest. Or maybe I really wouldn't have enjoyed it.

I guess I'll never know now, because in that sense, I'm probably too set in my ways to experiment with that sort of thing. So I guess it is something I regret not having tried. Because it's an experience I'll die not having had- and I hate there being too many of those.

And this, this really was the one time when I think- Two Grand! For Christ's sake, kid, you should have done it!
Two Grand!

Even if you didn't enjoy it, it probably wouldn't have been that bad. Certainly worth lying back and thinking of England for!

Two Grand.
To sleep with another man for the weekend.

And I turned it down.

Yes, I'm pretty sure I regret that.


Anonymous said...

Two Grand.
To sleep with another man for the weekend.

I hope you would regret it more if you had. Male or female.

Anonymous said...

(1) This is an interesting political evolution, one that seems almost completely devoid of ideology. I'm actually curious about where you'll wind up eventually.

(2) I was listening to an interview on Black Op Radio with this guy who made a documentary movie which tried to champion the lone-nut theory of the JFK assassination. When asked why he would attempt to take on a thesis that was so provably false, he said something to the effect that he had formerly been an adherent of the conspiracy theory, back when it was unpopular. When it began to gain credibility in the eyes of others, he became less "on-the-edge," as this view is becoming more the mainstream. Basically, he began to champion the other side, because it was now the disreputable one. He seemed uncomfortable having the majority opinion. Of course, he fancied himself something of a rebel.

(3) Forgive me for thinking about this in these terms, but the proposition in the bar seems like something that might have had political overtones. After all of my research, I'm beginning to sense that people are not put into positions of authority, unless there is some way to control them, to keep them from being truly independent. Part 9of me suspects there might have been cmeras, or other evidence gatherers waiting for you at that hotel. Even though you have no problem with homosexuality, some of your constituency (had you gone into politics) would. And just about any potential voter would have chafed over the thought of electing someone who had done prostitution.

I'd almost fear that someone could have held that over your head for the rest of your life. I can understand the regret, and I can understand why people do such things. I wouldn't see anything morally wrong with your accepting the offer. I could also see you as a rising political star, partly due to this.

At the same time, I think I understand enough about you that you would have really regretted an attempt to coopt you, or a threat to your independence. I don't really think you should have a reret about the incident.

(4) I could also see you as a successful politician, were it not for some of the unfortunate incidents, about which you've blogged earlier. I'm beginning to wonder if those had some connection to this.

Anonymous said...

jmb- I don't know. We all sell ourselves, day in, day out.
It's where you draw the line. Have I ever accepted cash directly in exchange for intimacy/sex?

But indirectly, yes. I've been in arrangements. When I was 21 I used to have a woman who did all my domestic chores for me and even used to take me to the pub for free, in exchange for me sleeping with her. And we were both quite clear on the score.

And even a lot of relationships I've been in. I was just content to settle and be kept. Is that any better than prostitution?

I've sold myself pretty cheap over the years.
So regrets? Yes, I regret just how cheaply I used to sell myself.

X-dell- I don't know, it is an evolution, though of course it doesn't make sene to a lot of people until you understand the obvious.

First, left and right are complete bollocks.

The centre is the status quo. Call it what you like, its believing in gradual change within the system as it stands- but ultimately it believes in gradually making the current system more caring.

The extremes both agree on thing- things as they stand are screwed.

Now, the real difference betwen traditional left and traditional right is WHY things are screwed.

The right believe someONE is to blame, usually. That the earlier, happier days (because life actually WAS better thirty years ago), wwere happier because there no black folk and family values ruled, etc, etc.

The left believe that the failings are systematic- that the system needs wholesale reform.

The question is, who is right?

Now the problem with the left-right model is it ignores the obvious; thee ae many types of past to look back on, and many futures to hope for.

Now I started my political life as a Thatcherite- but contrary to popular imaging, there's nothing conservative with a small c about Thatcherism.

And nor is it dead- It's just morphed overseas and become Nwo-Conservatism. But its the same creed.

And what actually IS it?

As a creed, it has much more in common with Marxism than its adherants care to admit- genuine Marxist theory, not the bastard versions we saw in the twentieth century. It's just that it's built on a false premise- that capitalism can continue indefinitely and that the market is always right, with a few concessions to religion thrown in. But traditional, it most certainly ain't. Which is why I bought it for so long.

The only real leap I had to make, was go back to Marx, actually READ what he wrote properly- which I did for the simple reason that the cogs had started to move and I was starting to realise that like perpetual motion, perpetual growth in an interest based- but finite economy can only serve long term to increase over time the total proportion of the world's material assets in the hands of the largest lenders.

A Neo con is a Marxist who hasn't understood Marx, or who just refuses to believe and thinks that capitalism can be saved by just being a bit more brutal.

I think you're right, I think I did join the Tories partly because it was the ultimate avant garde thing to do back then.

It's interesting you make the point of cameras in the hotel. Sometimes people think I'm ridiculously paranoid with the distrust levels I have about the society we live in, but frankly, I do think they keep a lot more information on all of us than we know. And yes, I'm sure they use it to make sure politics goes the way it should- amongst other things.

It's funny, writing this comment, and bearing in mind another comment I received on something else, it occurs me that they actually have done it, changed the political future of this country. It's an idea I've long been convinced of, but I think it will be the subject of tonights post.

Well, it might be a wild thing to say, that I think there WERE other considerations involved in the 'unfortunate incidents', but I'm damn sure there was, and again, people say I'm being wild asserting this until you present them with the facts.
I was fairly convicted- in a sense.

But in fact, I wasn't. The grounds for appeal against the SENTENCE were bang on, in terms of law. The sentence shouldn't have been upheld. The prosecution specifically sought conviction on the basis that there was no evidence to support commercial supply- so they went for social supply- but I was sentenced as a commercial supplier. Now there is absolutely no way the jury would have convicted, if the law was commercioal gain had to be proved, because it was obvious I wasn't making any money out of it.

You should see our school reports here now- and they've probably got worse since I was at school. They're full folders of paperwork, once a term with whole tables of ticked boxes.

They even CALL them 'profiles'. What more do you need to know?

Do I think there was a file on me somewhere with 'Potential loose cannon' marked on it, even before I graduated?

Call me paranoid, but damn right I do.

Anonymous said...

Where do you draw the line? I cut&paste this from here (it being the first result on google). I am positive it's Shaw:

"A certain gentleman inquired of a lady whether she would be willing to sleep with him for 50,000 pounds. After some hesitation, the lady replied that she supposed she would, in consideration of the magnitude of the offer. Then he asked whether she would sleep with him for twopence.

"Certainly not," she responded with indignation. "Just what kind of lady do you think I am?"

"Madam, I believe we have already established that," he remarked calmly. "Now we are just haggling over the price."

For the experience, yes. Just for money? Surely never. Can you not see the irony in a person with your nom de plume regretting not subjugating themselves to someone with more money and (as conventionally judged) social status?

Anonymous said...

£2000 is lot of money but surely you value yourself more than that?

Anonymous said...

Am with Bunny on this one :-)

Anonymous said...

X dell's suggestion of the camera sounds quite plausible to me, I think you would have regretted it more if you had done it!

Anonymous said...

Ian- I take your point, but I guess in this instance a lot more complex factors merge.
I'm not entirely sure that sex for money is necessarily subjagating onself.

A street girl who sells herself for a tenner, yes, that's exploitation, but the high class call girl? The lap dancer?
I'm rather of the opinion those who have to pay for it, are the exploited...

Oestrebunny- These days I doubt anyone would pay £20 for me! :)

Nunyaa- £3,000? Should that be my price? ;)

CherryPie- Maybe. If he looked anything like the guy who proposed it, then yes, I would have.

Who knows. Chances are I'd have bottled it. Liberal as I am on this topic, when it comes to it, it never sems quite right. Men just don't QUITE float my boat. C'est la vie.

Anonymous said...

Great post, thanks - I have linked to it.