The City of Love
Harker, Barking

Polly and Boris

Well-heeled egalitarian Polly Toynbee (“of the Toynbees”) continues her public hissing contest with bumbling rogue, Boris Johnson: 

“Of course if a monkey can be elected mayor of Hartlepool, Boris Johnson might be elected mayor of London. Jester, toff, self-absorbed sociopath and serial liar, the man could still win. Even Conrad Black called him ‘a duplicitous scoundrel’, and he should know. But it's truly alarming that he who has never run anything except his own image could be in charge of this mighty financial centre - and some of the poorest, neediest boroughs in the country... Don't be fooled. Despite that designer shambolic demeanour, Boris is not called blond ambition for nothing, with a gargantuan appetite for everything: fame, women, money, praise - and power… Perhaps because he was not born to great wealth, unlike Cameron and Osborne, he revels in everything elite - intellectual, social or monied…”

Here’s Boris on Polly:

“She joins the usual Labour snarling against fee-paying education, and selective education of all kinds. In reality, of course, she is the beneficiary of a highly selective education and also sent her own offspring to one of the most expensive public schools in the country, an establishment way beyond the means of most people. Of course there will be those who accuse her of monstrous hypocrisy, and wonder… how on earth she can insist on imposing a one-size-fits-all comprehensive system on the rest of the country, and close down the opportunities of so many poor but bright kids, when she has so ruthlessly maximised the opportunities of her own children…

Then there will be those who complain that it is hypocritical of Polly to have her lovely second home in Italy, to which she doubtless repairs on so many cheapo flights that she has personally quilted the earth in a tea-cosy of CO2; to which I say, yes, it probably is wrong of Polly to keep calling for higher taxes when that would put such opportunities - for air travel to second homes - beyond the reach of millions slightly less fortunate than her. But never mind the hypocrisy: look at the fundamental Tory behaviour. At least she's renting the villa out at pretty keen rates.”

More at Devil’s Kitchen, Tim Worstall and Factchecking Pollyanna.


The Thin Man

"a gargantuan appetite for everything"

surely this is an absolute requirement for someone wanting to run one of the worlds biggest financial centres?

Does Polly not think that Cuddly Ken must have just as much ambition? Otherwise why would he have run as Mayor?

Or does she not mind ambition as long as it is wrapped in politics that she happens to agree with.

This is a typical holier than thou move from lefty air-heads, who pretend that thirst for power is somehow absent from leftist politics.


Dear Polly’s grip on reality is somewhat tenuous. For instance, there’s something positively surreal about Toynbee calling anyone “a toff.” She is, after all, a rather grand woman herself - born into a privileged, quasi-aristocratic family, descended from the 9th Earl of Carlisle, privately educated, with a second home in Tuscany, a well-into-six-figure income, etc.

As DK says over at Devil’s Kitchen,

“You are more of a toff than Boris; the difference is that you rail against your class, attempting to stop anyone having the privileges that you had, whilst acting in precisely the same way that you always have. You revolting woman.”

Before adding,

“She could just shut the fuck up, stop writing and hang herself in shame.”


Polly Toynbee is


We have this kind of conversation over in Canada all the time. "Vote NDP? But you own a house!" kind of nonsense.

Does everyone on the Left have to take a vow of poverty before we are considered non-hypocritical? Does that mean that those of modest means who vote Tory are equally hypocritical?


Dr Dawg,

You’re rather missing the point. It isn’t a matter of how rich she is per se, though that does have some indirect bearing on many issues she addresses. Toynbee is a fierce (and factually unreliable) critic of many things she herself has benefited from, and from which her children benefit as a result of her choices. She’s saying others should do one thing in order to be righteous, while doing something very different herself. She’s willing to deny to others the choices she’s enjoyed and which her children enjoy (for instance in education) and is, in effect, pulling up the ladder behind her.

Given Toynbee’s ancestry and the inconsistency of her reasoning and behaviour, one might wonder if much of her political vehemence is related not to analysis but to personal issues and a concern for how she seems.


Polly "Moon-Glampers" Toynbee is having a LAFS



"You are more of a toff than Boris; the difference is that you rail against your class, attempting to stop anyone having the privileges that you had, whilst acting in precisely the same way that you always have."

I have to say that in my experience, she's a fairly typical "toff". At university, the most dedicated Marxists were invariably Public School Types. Public school Conservatives were often Patrician in outlook. They shared the idea that "they" knew better than the plebs and would rule them benevolently. In that regard Toynbee follows in the tradition of the loathsome Webers; the latter were prepared to defend the Soviet Union even when they saw the evidence of famine and murder with their own eyes.

I don't think this is a fashion statement. She believes in what she writes.



Wouldn’t that make her wildly inconsistent, delusional and… well, malign?


"Does everyone on the Left have to take a vow of poverty before we are considered non-hypocritical?"

Well, if taking "a vow of poverty" means:

* not sending your kids to be privately educated
* not earning a six figure salary for doing relatively little work
* owning only one residential property, or at least residential property in only one country, at a time
* not "quilting the earth in a tea-cosy of CO2" to visit aforementioned second residential property in second country

I suppose, yes, that would be considered a non-hypocritical approach.


"Wouldn’t that make her wildly inconsistent, delusional and… well, malign?"

This says it better than me:



Thanks for that. It’s good to hear someone making the (strangely unregistered) point that Toynbee’s egalitarian urges are not only authoritarian and narcissistic, but also appallingly cruel - not least to those whose interests she claims to have at heart.

Mary Jackson

Boris Johnson, peace be upon him, is fun. Underneath that absurd blond mop is a powerful mind.

Recently he campaigned successfully to retain Ancient History A-level. Red Ken would probably replace it with Islamophobia Studies.

Polly Toynbee is indeed a hypocrite. I agree with TDK that some of the most vociferous Marxists are ex public school types. In fact, when I was at university, you could tell who was a communist - the ones with the most expensive stereos.

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