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Où sont les neiges d’antan?

A year ago today, Polly Toynbee wrote this in the Guardian: Hollande and Europe are turning the tide. Where will it leave Cameron?

Labour gains from the triumph of the French Socialist leader with his intellectually cogent rallying cry for a new direction for Europe. Look how he won with a promise to tax the super-rich at a heart-attack rate of 75%, yet the French stock market actually rose slightly. Can he now turn the great liner of the EU’s disastrous economic policy?

Looking at the comments to the above article “newest first”, one AndyZama said,

Yes Polly. Time will tell.
Maybe in time you will again have to squirm with embarrassment like when you wrote articles like this.

Which link, in turn, takes us to an article by Ms Toynbee from 2006 that said,

Twice a year Gordon Brown fills his party’s sails with pride. His tornado of facts and figures magics up images of untold national wealth and success. Sixty per cent more personal wealth! Most chancellors sound as if chunks of their speech are penned by officials, not quite convincing in their grasp of macro or micro details. But here is the man who studies everything, consuming documents with the speed of a shredder. Standing at the dispatch box, the towering superiority of his brain makes intellectual pygmies of his opponents. George Osborne’s feeble joke about Granita and the green chancellor (green with envy) died on his lips: lacking authority, unlike Cameron, he also lacks the likeability to compensate. Like Old Mr Brown and Squirrel Nutkin, the big Scots brain seems not to register Osborne’s presence until he bites off his tail.

However, British politics is unaccustomed to intellect: the intellectual in politics has often been doomed to failure. A brainy chancellor running the economy from the engine rooms of the Treasury is one thing – but a great prime minister needs political genius. So far we don’t know if Brown has it. Within a few months he may prove, as his enemies suggest, to be a character too inflexible, too inward and just too serious for the top job. Or we could possibly have the most formidable leader in many years. As David Cameron reaches the end of a shrewd first year, he has done the best he can, but now his fate depends entirely on the untried strength of Gordon Brown as prime minister.

Nothing new could be gleaned from his pre-budget report this week, with no new direction hinted at. His aces will stay firmly up his sleeve until he moves next door. But the more opaque he seems, the greater the surprises he must spring in his first 100 days in No 10. With some nervousness, those around him try in vain to lower expectations, but his party already yearns for the near-impossible. It wants the stability he brings from the Treasury, the iron chancellor who broke the boom-and-bust cycle with his bare hands.

I do sympathise, a little. The internet holds many more failed prophecies and assessments that turned out to be spectacularly wrong than just these two. There are even some of mine in there. But Polly Toynbee is so gloriously reliable. If wrong guesses were sold like music, she’d have a row of gold discs on her wall.

15 comments to Où sont les neiges d’antan?

  • AndrewWS

    Isn’t Polly becoming a modern version of Mystic Mogg?

  • RAB

    She defies the laws of nature. Everyone is right at least once, but not dear Polly.

  • No RAB, she is wonderful… as useful as a compass that always points south.

  • Laird

    “the iron chancellor who broke the boom-and-bust cycle with his bare hands.”

    What a glorious line! Toynbee is to hubris what hubris is to ordinary pride.

  • RAB

    I think you’ll find that is Mystic Megg AndrewWS. But hey you may be right… Not knowing their own name even, is pretty common among Guardian Journalists.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    “Mystic Mogg” would be a nice name for a kitten. Mind you, so would “Polly Toynbee”.

  • Snorri Godhi

    In Dutch language classes, we did an exercise in which we tried to distinguish between long and short vowels.
    There was a Spanish lady who got every one of them wrong. I tried to explain to her that that’s much better than getting 50% wrong, but she was not convinced.

  • RAB

    But… But… Polly is a Tiger (albeit a paper one) of the working class surely? not a pussy-cat. Why she even met working class people once ( for 8 months) and wrote a book on them entitled A Working Life. That’s what a working life has involved for dear Polly, 8 months. The rest of her life has involved re-writing New Labour press releases and turning up on television discussion shows. She knows her onions from her Mangelwurzels alright. How dare we criticise her?

    “But here is the man who studies everything, consuming documents with the speed of a shredder. Standing at the dispatch box, the towering superiority of his brain makes intellectual pygmies of his opponents…” Holy fuckin god!

    Gurning Gordon is a Sociopath who belongs in a rubber room, not the Mother of Parliaments (not that the mad fucker bothers to actually turn up there anymore). His intellect is so small as to be unmeasurable. But good old Polly could be counted on to suck Satan’s pecker, be it Tony Blair or Gordon Brown. She’s still at it with Mr Ed, the Talking Horse’s arse. She will become Dame Polly soon surely?

  • Sam Duncan

    “Mr Ed, the Talking Horse’s arse.”

    RAB wins this thread.

  • Runcie Balspune

    A couple of articles back we had a self-congratulatory piece on the glories of alcohol fuelled journalism, here we can see the other face of mass media, so who can we rely on to tell the truth, the piss-artiste or the piss-poor?

  • RAB

    The piss-artiste every time.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    She is a joke.

  • Ed Snack

    Surely a compass that always points South is the same as one that points North, only the colours on the needle are swapped (or the card turned through 180 degrees). Polly’s problem is that she, using the compass metaphor, relatively reliably points UP.

  • James Millward

    How many servants does Polly have? Does she do her own ironing? Does she have a tax accountant? What does he do? Advise her how to pay more tax? Does she envy the rich? Does she understand how many people envy her Tuscan villa?

  • Polly Toynbee is the perfect representative of the socialist ideology she espouses: wrong then, wrong now, wrong forever.