I buy it. I buy all of it. I love the Obamas. I want to be like them. I get irrationally happy whenever I see pictures, I get incoherent whenever I see inauguration footage and, for god’s sake, people, they slowdanced.
Liz’s post on Barack Obama’s inauguration really touched me (Liz is a lovely person and I’m privileged to be in the MCR with her. When I grow up, &c). I am so excited and happy, and willing the enthusiasm for Obama to last.
But such an image of joy and hope does really depress me about our own political situation. I don’t want to be a Labour apologist. I really don’t. They’ve failed, well, everybody. But I don’t know what to do or how I’m going to vote; Labour is the only hope for avoiding a Tory majority, and I cannot bear the thought that one day soon, America will have Barack Obama and we will have a man from the Bullingdon Club. Three men from the Bullingdon Club; the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, and the Mayor of London (re: that photo – why do Oxford boys still do this in photos? Pose like lumpens, and gaze off to all sides? Why?). I’m aware it sounds dreadful whenever I explain how much of my dislike of all three – my primary dislike, before I even get onto their policies – is character-based, is based on their Bullingdon membership – to anybody outside Oxford. Bullingdon is a club for arseholes, arseholes; I don’t know how many tutors have told me stories of Bullingdon escapades that ended in slack-jawed idiots writing blank cheques with fountain pens, while the real world faced down the criminal damage. Contemporaries and near-contemporaries of Cameron’s (indeed, anybody who was around Oxford in the relevant decade) can confirm that he didn’t attend Bullingdon during some sort of humanitarian blip where the club was about more than vomit and booze.
I mean, a lot of Oxford’s all-male dining-club scene involves vomit and booze, and doubtless many of those men will go on to be credible members of society. But Bullingdon membership puts you in another league. Just like Obama’s Presidency of the Harvard Law Review indicates that he’s cleverer than a few billion other people on this planet, Bullingdon membership indicates that you’re the kind of person who’s stupider, richer and more selfish than approximately the same. In 2005, the tailcoats Bullingdon men wear cost £1,200, according to this article by OxStu, which was itself prompted by criminal damage on the part of Bullingdon members. They trashed the cellar of a 15th century pub, led by Spencer nephew Alexander Fellowes (who, it seems, is now an Associate at Spencer House Partners, three years on).
I don’t like the idea of Oxford following America in the introductions of fraternities and sororities (tho I am going to a a frat-style party on Friday), but I want my country to follow the US in creating hope and joy and possibility for the future. I am so excited about this presidency – if I was American, I can only imagine I’d be clutching my hair like a tiny Liverpudlian girl during Beatlemania.
And GOD, Michelle Obama. She is so fabulous. If Cheryl Cole can’t be on my telly all the time, I want it to be her. I love what is happening in the world this week.
On a slightly different note, you know, just plugging inexcusably: this weekend Jay is speaking at the zinefest at the Women’s Library. She’s currently working on a new zine. I know, because I’m drawing the cover (except it’s not a cover. Or something. Madam keeps changing the concept, but since she’s giving me LOTS OF INK AND PAPER I cannot really complain). I may be going. To heckle, mainly. I think the idea is that she subsequently becomes VERY FAMOUS. In a not-exactly-shock twist of fate.
Dr Sophie Duncan is Fellow in English at Christ Church, University of Oxford. She works regularly as a historical advisor and as a dramaturg for theatre, TV, radio and film. She likes theatre, detective fiction and cocktails.