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As any Brit will know, The Daily Telegraph is one of our more right-wing newspapers. This book contains a collection culled from the Letters to the Editor section of the paper, submitted by the intelligent, the witty, the grumpy and the occasionally downright weird people who are part of the readership. The letters cover the period from the last general election in 2010 through our experiment in Conservative/Liberal coalition government, and give a great flavour of the issues and scandals that have exercised the minds of retired colonels and maiden aunts in the leafy suburbs of Conservative England. While I try not to discourage anyone from any good book, this one is really only for UK political geeks. Many of the entries are humorous, but a lot of them depend on the reader knowing the personalities and politics of contemporary Britain.
The selection is grouped under headings such as Goodbye Gordon, Chillaxing Conservatives, Swivel-eyed Loons, etc. If you don’t get these references, then I suggest the book is not for you. However, if you do, from whatever side of the political spectrum you hail, you will probably find this as entertaining as I did. There’s no doubt that Letters to the Editor has become a competitive sport in Britain with people vying to be the funniest or the most intelligent or the most condescending as their character dictates, and the result is some very fine humour, intentional or otherwise. The book is also a lighthearted reminder of some of the treasured political moments of the last five years – just the thing to read in the wake of the weirdest General Election results Britain has ever seen to remind us not to take it all so seriously. Buffoons exist on either side of the political divide, so at least while they’re wrecking the economy and destroying our society, we can be sure our politicians will always entertain us…
To give a little flavour of the book, I’ve tried to select a few letters that don’t require an in-depth knowledge of the British political scene…
Sir – Dear Lord, I know that I don’t talk to you that much, but I note that you have recently taken away my favourite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favourite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favourite musician, Michael Jackson, and my favourite cricketer, Alec Bedser.
I just wanted to let you know that my favourite Prime Minister is Gordon Brown. Amen
On the TV Debates held before the 2010 election
Sir – The most astonishing fact is that Gordon Brown finished third out of three and his acolytes are relieved. I dread their ambitions for the country.
Sir – I would think that Gillian Duffy, sixty-five, is probably more annoyed at being described as ‘elderly’ than a ‘bigot’.
Andrew J. Morrison (64 years and 355 days)
Sir – David Cameron wants to help us old people to downsize. I am already two inches shorter than I used to be, so I don’t need his help.
John de Lange
Sir – May I suggest that if the police are to use water cannons to disperse rioting students, they include some soap in the tank?
On the subject of gay marriage
Sir – Being a devoted husband, as well as a staunch and active member of the Conservative Party, I’d be grateful to learn what further changes it will adopt, especially in regard to monogamy. My wife could do with a bit more help around the house.
A great gift for the political nerd in your life – I would mention Christmas stockings but for fear that you might all lynch me…
NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Constable.