By Harry Phibbs
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The Labour candidate in the Eastleigh byelection John O'Farrell, writing in his memoirs, Things Can Only Get Better, said:
"Complex political debate is all very well, but generally most issues can be sorted out simply by deciding who are the nicest people."
"So that's all that Socialists needed to say is: 'Vote Labour because were nicer.' "
I think Mr O'Farrell genuinely felt that the key point about Conservatives was that they were nasty. He would go canvassing Patmore Estate in Queenstown Ward and be shown mould on the wall of one of the council flats. He would conclude the cause must be the malevolence of the Tory councillors in Wandsworth. It would not occur to him, for instance, that Council flats in Labour boroughs might have similar or worse conditions. Or that perhaps the state did not make a good landlord or builder which in turn might have prompted some doubts as to the results of Socialism.
Elsewhere in the book Mr O'Farrell expresses his "disappointment" that Margaret Thatcher was not murdered by the IRA in the Brighton bomb.
Why did she have to leave the bathroom two minutes earlier? I asked myself over and over again.
Lord Tebbit has given a powerful response in a Telegraph blog.
The Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan told the BBC it was one of Mr O'Farrell's jokes. Not so. If you read the relevant page you will see it was obvious that he was being quite serious.
Also when he wrote the book, published in 1998, Mr O'Farrell still felt there was "some justification it has to be said" for his feelings.
On the Falklands War he wanted Argentina to win, writing in his book:
"I was against the war, against people's reaction to the war, even against the outcome of the war."
"One of the commanders of the task force (I can't recall his triple-barrelled name) said that Britain had been very fortunate that so many of the Exocet missiles that struck British ships had failed to go off. If they had detonated, he said, we would have suffered too many casulaties to allow him to risk keeping the task force in the area, and we would have failed to recapture the Falklands. So that's what kept Mrs Thatcher in power. A few faulty detonators on some French-made missiles."
Mr O'Farrell had an effortless career on programme's such as Spitting Image and Radio 4's Weekending, for which most of the supposed comedy sketches were recitals of left wing prejudices. He has also written jokes for Gordon Brown.
During all this Mr O'Farrell's mission has been to portray the Conservatives as the "nasty party." If Labour continue to endorse him as their candidate they will prove how that label is much better suited to their party.
By the way I think some of Mr O'Farrell's jokes are funny. This does not excuse him.
I reminded of George Orwell's comment on Salvador Dali:
One ought to be able to hold in one’s head simultaneously the two facts that Dali is a good draughtsman and a disgusting human being.