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Thursday, February 25, 2016 

Get down with the sickness.

Seeing as we're on a bit of a 90s bent, some of you might just recall Stewart Lee and Richard Herring's ever more incongruous looking back on it Sunday lunchtime show This Morning With Richard Not Judy.  Herring's habitual response to being called "sick" by Stew after revealing that week's attraction to whatever it was ("I love all flies.  Houseflies.  Tsetse flies.  Of course, they're all testes flies when I've finished with them") was to say "Am I Stew?  Or is it the businessman, with his suit and tie?"

Which brings us in fantastically tenuous style to yesterday's completely absurd PMQs set to.  Cameron's mother we learnt, as well as being opposed to her son's austerity, is not really very British at all.  Few of us are rude or direct enough to give advice of the kind Dave's dear old mum would to Jeremy Corbyn.  No, instead we'd criticise Corbyn's dress sense and his implicit lack of patriotism once he was out of earshot.  Dave's old cheese by contrast would say it right to the bearded lunatic leftie's face: put on a proper suit, do up your tie and for God's sake tug your forelock when it's demanded of you!  Where do you think you are, the beach?  You're leader of the opposition man, letting yourself and your side down!  Do you think Clement Attlee would have turned up with his shirt hanging out and refused to get down on his knees when ordered to by George IV?  Of course not!

Credit has been to given to Dave's PMQs preparation team, as it was clearly another came up with in advance line meant to look like an ad-lib, just in case Corbyn cited the Cameron family's concerns over the actions of the prodigal.  Instead he took the opportunity given by Angela Eagle's heckle (hence why she looks so embarrassed), as clearly you can't let a good insult go to waste.

And it was a good insult, carefully calibrated: Dave wasn't the one saying his opponent resembles a tramp and doesn't love his country, it's what his mother would, in the same way as politicians down the ages have hid behind the opinions of anonymous letter writers and concerned citizens.  It was designed to appeal to that small but vocal group of judgemental souls that believe a shirt and tie are more important than every other personal quality.  Think Telegraph writers, the people behind the proposal in UKIP's 2010 manifesto that taxi drivers should have a dress code, Basil Fawlty-alikes, assorted other eccentrics.  Some also simply admire bullies, as long as the bully is on "their" side, for which see the rise of Trump.  A few will have been turned off by Flashman making another appearance, for sure, but others will have yucked up Dave telling it like it is.

You could if you like complain about how this seems a much greater act of snobbery than say Emily Thornberry tweeting a photo without comment of a house flying an England flag with a white van on the drive.  You could bring up how it seems especially instructive of the prejudices of our social betters coming in the same week as the country is being asked to back one of two men, both of whom went to the same elite private school, both of whom were members of the Bullingdon Club and both of whom have since their tender years believed they were born to rule.  You could remark on the contrast it highlights in the treatment of one of those men, who is in part popular because of his upper class "eccentricities", who has been caught deliberately messing up his hair prior to giving interviews, who was heckled himself in the Commons on Monday and told to tuck his shirt in.

You could, but you'd just sound bitter and it doesn't get you anywhere.  For all the brown nosing, sycophancy and sneering going on, whether it be Cleaning for the Queen, or renaming the Crossrail project the Elizabeth Line, it's worth remembering that we've reached the point where the only people we really make wear uniforms and tell to stand up straight are kids.  Sure, you get the odd headteacher who decides that's not enough by itself and demands the parents don't wear pyjamas when bringing their little darlings in, but in general the etiquette following, looking down nose, know your place types are on the way out altogether.  Before long the sickos truly will be the suits.  And then we'll complain and moan about the death of class, as is our wont.

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