Young Tory of the Year


[Susan, a television presenter, (Stephen Fry) is in a box at a concert hall; there is a packed house behind her and an orchestra tuning up. A man called Brent Wheeler (Hugh Laurie) is sitting next to her.]

Susan: Hello and three dozen welcomes to the Harrowgate Young Tory of the Year, here at the Daily Mail Hall, Horrorgate, in front of an invited audience of local businessmen and their slightly awkward teenage children in pony-tails and annoying ties. With me is one of the judges, Brent Wheeler, and he’ll be giving expert advice and telling us what to look out for. Good evening Brent.

Brent: Quite right.

Susan: Brent, the standard last year was incredibly high, do you think we can look for something similar this year?

Brent: Well, Susan, I think we probably can. I’ve been a judge for some of the local heats and I can tell you the talent this year is as awesome as ever it’s been.

Susan: This being the night of the finals, the competitors will be concentrating on keynote speeches and displays of general prejudice and ignorance, is that right?

Brent: More or less. There is a new round this year, however, a Getting Shiny-faced in a T-shirt round.

Susan: T-shirt? That sounds very …

Brent: Well, this is the way modern Young Toryism is being developed. T-shirts show that it isn’t just an art for the middle classes, but has general American street fashion-wise appeal for the young and hip-trendy.

Susan: Right, well. The lights are going down behind me as you can probably hear, and our first competitor, Andrew Tredgold is ready to go on.

As a Young Tory, Andrew Tredgold, steps on to the stage with a speech. There is a blue cyclorama behind him with a Union Jack-Arrow logo and the slogan “Forward with into Britain tomorrow right step”.

Susan: (cont.) Andrew is in his second year at Exeter reading Human Bigotry and Libertarian Nonsense. He counts amongst his inspirations the “Family Values” theme by Kevin Patten, the “Further Cuts in Public Expenditure” suite by Kenneth Clarke, arranged Portillo, and the “Endless Variations in J. Major”. So, Andrew Tredgold, South West regional winner.

A young man called Andrew Tredgold (Hugh Laurie) stands in front of those perspex autocue screens and clears his throat. Stephen Fry is the conductor, a la Simon Rattle. Andrew watches nervously as Stephen gives him a reassuring smile and then cues him. The Planets – Jupiter by Gustav Holst is played in the background.

Andrew: (as Andrew: becoming incredibly fast) Conference. Core values, real punishment for offenders, family standards, opportunity for individual enterprise, roll back the frontiers of the state, Michael’s bold and imaginative initiative, and yes, why not corporal punishment, really crack down, young offenders, rules of law, and yes I make no apology, respect for ordinary decent vast majority, welfare spongers, as Norman said so clearly, individual enterprise culture, opportunity attack on trendy liberal educational wishy-washy to pick up on Kevin’s wonderfully forceful point, sloppy thinking, sixties, in Michael’s bold and imaginative values, standards, decency, family, law, yes. I make no apology and why not even perhaps, God and pride in country, decent ordinary sloppy people, vast majority of bold new initiatives, decent, family standards, core values, return to fifties, reponsibility, individual, respect, standard, values, and yes, why not, values, respect, standards, ordinary, decent apology, I make no standards, vast family law, and why not sloppy corporal God punishment individual decent spongers wishy-washy trendy family crime Michael values. Thank you.

Huge applause.

Susan: Well, the audience absolutely loving Andrew’s performance there. But what will the judges make of it, I wonder? Brent.

Brent: Well, it was wonderfully confident and assured, wasn’t it? Original, though. I’m not sure how much the judges will like that. Did you notice in one of the earlier passages he opted for “family standards” instead of the more classically correct “family values”? But the technique was astonishing for one his age: he was every bit as insulting as a Tory twice his age.

Susan: Any actual mistakes?

Brent: Not real mistakes, no.

Susan: I thought at one point that he was going to say something that made sense.

Brent: He just managed to avoid that, didn’t he? A tense moment. But, no. Very assured, very ghastly: completely sucked dry of youth, energy, ideals, imagination, love, passion or intelligence.

Susan: Well, while the audience vomit we’ll return you to the shop where we bought you.

 – Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie: A Bit of Fry & Laurie (1989-1995)

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