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Worstward Ho

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The Lib Dem Manifesto

The Lib Dem Manifesto

I don’t know what kind of demographic targeting apparatus the Lib Dems are packing in this election, but it seems to have determined that there are votes to be had from readers of the Saturday Guardian with a taste for the great masters of modernistic gloom and a relaxed attitude to not namechecking Nelson Mandela. The evidence:

Subjects addressed by party leaders in the Guardian Review’s ‘My Hero’ slot:

Gordon Brown: Nelson Mandela
David Cameron: n/a
Nick Clegg: Samuel Beckett

The Guardian Weekend magazine, 24 April 2010. Question: ‘Which living person do you most admire, and why?’

Gordon Brown: Nelson Mandela (‘for inspiring us never to give up, even in the darkest times, on the fight for justice and, with his wife, Graca, for championing the movement against poverty and for education that has changed hundreds of millions of lives’)
David Cameron: Nelson Mandela (‘for his grace and complete lack of bitterness’)
Nick Clegg: J.M. Coetzee (‘he writes with a simplicity which lays bare what really matters’)

Question: ‘What is your favourite book?’

Gordon Brown: ‘There are so many that have made a big impression on me – the one I’ve read and loved most recently was about the female winners of the Nobel prize.’
David Cameron: ‘Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves.’
Nick Clegg: ‘Life & Times of Michael K, by JM Coetzee.’

A plug for Kafka or Thomas Bernhard in the next few hours could make all the difference.

Comments on “Worstward Ho”

  1. loxhore says:

    Kafka’s funny!

  2. Jenny Diski says:

    Beckett’s funnier.

    Lost in the wilderness of vile options, Clegg’s eulogy to Beckett quite turned my head. ‘Subversive, funny.’ You got me, Nick.

  3. alex says:

    Obama started this, avowing a predilection for Miles Davis and Melville (admittedly the Melville of Moby Dick rather than the proto-Beckettian Bartleby). I was less sure about his favorite foods though, which included shrimp linguini and peanut bars. what does Clegg like to eat?

  4. Jenny Diski says:

    At this stage of the election – less than a day to go – he’d probably be delighted to answer that question if he was emailed. Tom?

  5. According to this he likes eating mangoes, has porridge for breakfast every morning and once, in China, ate fried bees.

  6. outofdate says:

    ‘All is ready. Except me. I am being given, if I may venture the expression, birth to into death, such is my impression. The feet are clear already, of the great cunt of existence. Favourable presentation I trust.’

  7. LorenzoStDuBois says:

    WARNING FROM AMERICA:

    I remember how thrilling it was when Obama would answer all these personal questions with such non-political answers. It is indeed refreshing when a political figure you’re already a bit fond of shows such confidence and intelligence in his tastes.

    However, turns out just like Bush made white reactionaries comfortable with his folksy charm, Obama made people like me comfortable with his nods to high culture. Behind each of these facades however, we got the same policies.

    This Clegg guy seems the best of the three, but let’s not get carried away here.

  8. Robert Hanks says:

    God, yes, I’d vote for anyone who was touting Thomas Bernhard. Just imagine what the Queen’s Speech would be like. (It would have been nice if Clegg had stuck to his guns and insisted on party political broadcasts modelled on Beckett. I’m thinking Breath. Or Not I featuring Vincent Cable’s mouth. Or an excerpt from Godot with Cameron as Pozzo and Brown as Lucky.)

  9. alex says:

    I was gutted by the commentary in the Guardian. Although they saw fit to tell us that G. Brown just ate ‘a lamb stew cooked by his wife’ (11.38pm) they had the nerve to criticize the BBC for feeding us ‘filler’ information about the fact that Nick Clegg and his wife are at home, cooking dinner (10.52pm, via Heidi Stephens), without actually telling us what they were cooking!
    Does anyone have any better information?

    • alex says:

      … according to the Times, Conservative plotting on election day was done over a chili con carne prepared by Samantha Cameron (‘How Cameron’s secret kitchen cabinet had to rethink plans for power’, May 8)

  10. alibrown18 says:

    When Beckett-loving Clegg makes his post-election speech in a few moments, I fully expect him to acknowledge this was the election where nothing happened for the Lib Dems, twice…no, wait, for the umpteenth time in a row.

  11. Jenny Diski says:

    Or: We lost. We would have lost anyway.

    Fail again. Fail better…

    Oh never mind.

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