Friday, 11 September 2009


Paul Staines (Guido Fawkes) has ticked me off for describing him as a Tory, proudly saying that he had never been a member of the Conservative Party. My defence is that I was harking back to the early, pre-C0nservative and -Liberal days, when there was no recognised party structure.

Ivor Bulmer-Thomas in "The Growth of the British Party System" (1967), wrote:  "The name Whig was properly given to adherents of the Presbyterian cause in Scotland in the latter half of the seventeenth century and was applied to the exclusioners [supporters of a Bill to prevent James, Duke of York, from succeeding Charles II] in derision. The term Tory, an anglicized form of an Irish word meaning a pursuer, was even less polite. In its original sense it was used in the seventeenth century to denote one of the dispossessed Irish who became outlaws and lived by killing and plundering the English settlers and soldiers. It was equivalent to 'bog trotter', and was applied to their opponents because they noticed that the Duke of York tended to favour Irishmen for his friends. Narcissus Luttrell in 1681 wrote of the duke's supporters and the exclusioners: 'The latter party have been called by the former whigs, fanaticks, covenanteers, bromigham protestants, &c.; and the former are called by the latter tories; tantivies, Yorkists, high-flown church men, &c.'"

High-church man? Pursuer with Irish connections? Fits Guido to a T, I would say.

Nor would he disown the company of Dean Swift, Alexander Pope, Isaac Newton or Samuel Johnson, I suspect. They were all identified as tories (though Johnson was not that political).

Perhaps I was at fault in using a capital letter, since latter-day Conservatives are happy to describe themselves as "Tories". I shall be more selective in future.

Incidentally, I was pleased to note that "Narcissus Luttrell" defeated the major search engines. I do hope that Bulmer-Thomas did not invent him or her.

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