We are battered and bruised by politics. We are bemused by an apparently unending series of elections. After the West Germans, Portuguese, Australians, Jamaicans and Americans, we await the French and the Israelis. And in a separate pigeonhole there is the British Labour Party and its choice of leader. For all that each one of these contests deserves a separate and distinct analysis, we are bludgeoned into accepting the same approach and the same treatment. Thus we have been told that Schmidt is centre left and that he needs to appear as if he were more to the right, while Giscard d'Estaing is centre right and seeks to appear as if he were centre left. Foot is too nice, so much so that he is the nicest prime minister we will never have, but Healey is not nice enough and his past bullying of the unions has lost him their enthusiasm if not their support. Foot is romantic, Healey pragmatic. Carter appealed because he was able to show how he had assumed all the complicated burdens of office, but Reagan appealed because he was able to show himself as a direct man who had the determination to dominate and solve problems. Carter is not at ease within himself; Reagan is a man who is at ease.
LRB 20 November 1980 | PDF Download