Already we can see that in the mouth of Conservative politicians who get anywhere close to power, words mean the opposite of what they commonly mean to everyone else. David Cameron’s big open and comprehensive offer to the Lib Dems really means, “Come and support us, and we’ll go on and do exactly what we plan to do, none of what you want: no compromise on Europe, no scrapping Trident, no electoral reform.
Tell you what, Nick: have another look at Matthew chapter 4, verses 8 and 9; and Just Say No.
It’s a very weird thing, when people you were at college with – or at least, were at college at the same time as – turn up as heroes in someone else’s memoirs.
This is Blood Knots, by Luke Jennings – a memoir of angling, so maybe not a book I will be rushing out to buy and read. But right now it’s making a bit of a splash in the reviews, and being read as Radio 4’s Book of the Week. Jennings was at Ampleforth with Robert Nairac, who as an assistant master was an inspirational mentor and guide, and taught him how to fish.
Robert Nairac read Medieval and Military History at Lincoln College, at the same time as I was there. He joined the Grenadier Guards and served in Northern Ireland as an undercover intelligence officer. In 1977 he was captured by the IRA, tortured and murdered. One of his killers later bore witness to his courage: “He never told us anything.”
When I was at Lincoln, Nairac was one of the gods. I don’t think I ever spoke to him, and he was probably not even aware I existed. He excelled at sports, played rugby, was a boxing blue – so probably didn’t know any of the people I knew.
Two years after his death he was awarded the George Cross for bravery. His body has never been found.
Oxford East was the Lib Dems’ 4th target seat to win from Labour. In the event, Andrew Smith held it with an increased majority, and a 4.1% swing to Labour.
What’s this all about, in light of the national swing from Labour?
My hunch is that in 2005 a lot of the Labour faithful voted Lib Dem, or not at all, to give the Government a kicking over the Iraq War. When the fat was in the fire this time, they came back to the fold. Plus, Andrew is a really good and well-respected constituency MP. That still counts for something.
The Old Testament reading at Morning Prayer on the morning after the Election:
Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night.