"Sorry, no, I have never said I'm anti-women. I have got absolutely nothing against women.
"Who cooks my lunch? Who cooks my dinner? How did my wonderful three children appear? Women, you can't do without them. My god, take my wife."
A Bernard Manning joke without a punchline? A second rate Les Dawson sketch from the 1970’s? No, this is a direct quote from Sir Jeremy Bagge, leader of the group of South West Norfolk Conservative Party’s rebels which, dubbed the ‘Turnip Taliban’, has narrowly failed in its campaign to force the de-selection of Elizabeth Truss as parliamentary candidate.
For the past few weeks, the rest of the UK has, once again, been treated to a great laugh at Norfolk’s expense. And who can blame them? I’m sure I’d be having a good chuckle myself were I not a 20 year-plus Norfolk resident who has seen for himself the huge, and almost entirely positive, changes that have taken place in the county since I first arrived here in the late 1980s. Changes which form the core theme running through the current ‘Normal for Norfolk’ marketing campaign, which seeks to dispel, once and for all, the many myths and the misconceptions about the county.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of Liz Truss’s past love life, and even taking into account the clear communications cock-up between Tory Central Office and the local party, this whole affair should, and perhaps would, have amounted to no more than ‘a little local difficulty’. All very embarrassing no doubt for a Tory Party determined to spruce up its image and present itself in a more modern, inclusive light. Yet probably no more than a one-week-wonder from a media point of view.
But that was to underestimate the determination of Sir Jeremy and his acolytes to grab their 15 minutes of fame. The national media has, instead, been mesmerised by the spectacle of this stereotypical Woodehousian Sir Peregrine Bufton-Tufton character bumbling into the limelight. And to be fair, in his determination to enjoy one last hurrah by giving those impertinent young whipper-snappers at Tory Central Office a bloody nose, Bufty-Tufty managed, at least temporarily, to set external perceptions of Norfolk back by several decades.
How reassuring then that sanity prevailed earlier this evening and the Turnips have been sent back to their estates with a very clear message…
Normal for the 8th baronet of the 1200-acre Stradsett Estate? Certainly. Normal for South West Norfolk Conservative Association? Nearly, but not quite. Normal for Norfolk? Not a chance.
Member since: 25th November 2009
Have lived in Norwich area for 20+ years. Spent a decade with Virgin in Marketing / Comms / PR Director roles. Am now a Business Writer and Communications Consultant. Put simply, I help companies stand...