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LAKSHMAN MENON
LONDON CALLING

London Calling

Not Tonight, Sweetheart

The annual conferences of the main political parties have ended. To make up for Ed Miliband's dismal performance, the Observer has come up with a new finding; the "recession" has both impoverished Britons and ruined their sex lives. It commissioned a survey which finds that Brits now have sex only four times a month compared with seven times a month in 2008, when Labour was in office and Britain was the land of plenty; plentiful borrowing, plentiful free handouts and plentiful sex. And "It's not just our libido that has declined", the newspaper laments, "so has confidence in our own performance. In 2008, 55% of Britons considered themselves to have above average prowess as a lover. That figure has nosedived, to 33%". "Nosedived", in the context of a sex survey, is not the most salubrious term to use, but we get the drift; not content with wrecking the economy, the Tories have wreaked havoc in its readers' bedrooms. The Observer doesn't seem surprised. I am. Between waging class war, marching against wealth creators and protesting against the closure of libraries last used when Neil Kinnock was in short pants, it's a wonder the Proles have any time for sex at all.

The Oldest Profession

And what can one say about the Lib Dems conference? It commenced with a "close aide" of the Home Secretary describing Nick Clegg as a "wanker" and went downhill from there. Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem Treasury Secretary, did his party no favours by claiming that "We have rescued the country and we need to summon up all our courage and resourcefulness to save it again." Among the ways they would do it is by legalising brothels. No sooner had the laughter died down than Paddy Ashdown, the Lib Dems election co-ordinator, declared: "We now know that Labour will screw the economy and the Tories will screw the poor." It would seem, however, the electorate think that the Lib Dems will, in Lord Ashdown's elegant phrase, "screw" both; just 7% now support the party.

Robin Hood Revenues

Having squandered the nation's finances, Labour is now peddling the myth that if elected to office it will tax its way out of the national debt. In fact, as Indians of a certain generation may remember, high-tax regimes result in low-tax receipts. When, under Indira Gandhi, the top income tax was 97%, the economy flat-lined and India's greatest works of fiction were produced by its tax accountants. Mrs Gandhi surrounded herself with sycophants who dared not dissent; her contemporary, Mrs Thatcher, was made of different mettle. In his memoirs, her PR man, Tim Bell, recounts she hired him warning: "Politicians have very, very large toes and very large fingers, and it's easy to tread on them. I have neither and you will always tell me the truth however painful you may think it might be to me." He did; and helped her win three general elections in a row. In his conference speech last month, George Osborne told the nation the painful truth; Labour's reckless profligacy got us into huge debt. This can only be reduced by cutting our spending. It would have been easy to avoid treading on the electorate's toes by tricking them with fantasies. Mr Osborne did not. We now have a clear choice before us; Labour's belief that the state knows best and that the individual must be subservient to the "greater good" and the Conservative's belief in the individual's right to self-determination. It is no coincidence that the Conservatives have regained the lead in the opinion polls.

Bestselling Bigots

Jeremy Clarkson has made Top Gear a hit by being an offensive oaf. He has depicted Mexicans as shiftless, Asians as "slope" heads and has — almost — called black people the "N-word" on air. And so it was that Mr Clarkson found himself in Argentina just happening to arrive in a Porsche with the licence plate H982FKL, which, he helpfully explains, "If you turned the H into a 1 and transposed the K and L could have been seen as a reference to the 1982 Falklands war." Well, I never. The Argies got in a dudgeon and Mr Clarkson, so courageous in his assaults on everyone else's sensitivities, sought refuge under his bed before fleeing the country. My heart bleeds. But call me cynical; I bet his Argentinean special will do Top Gear's ratings — and Mr Clarkson's bank balance — no damage.

 
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