Our American cousins cannot make up their minds whether this will be the start of a British tea party movement or rather a quaint meeting where tea will be served. As it happens, I share their ambivalence.
The tea party movement in the United States, now a year or so old, started as a series of spontaneous local demonstrations, some small some large, with hand-made slogans and posters. It was the expression of real anger from the bottom. As the politicians fumbled their response and displayed their contempt for the electorate, the movement growed and growed like Topsy. It is now a formidable force in American politics and politicians on both sides are eyeing it with some misgiving. Which way will it turn and will it become a serious force in the electoral campaign? Well, in a sense it has, as the Massachussetts result showed but will that last and what effect will it have in November?
Our own beginnings are very different. There was a minute gathering for Thanksgiving Day on Parliament Square but it was cold and wet and dark. We had a lot of fun but its effect was doubtful. Now there is a new beginning in Brighton or so Daniel Hannan MEP tells us. Well, he would, wouldn't he. After all, he is addressing the tea party.
Earlier today Mr Hannan will be addressing a meeting of the preposterous Nothing British campaign whose aim appears to be to give as much publicity as possible to the BNP. And thereby lies the problem. The launch of the British tea-party movement is being organized by The Freedom Association as a fringe event at the Conservative Party Spring Conference. It will be addressed by a Conservative politician and, at a guess, attended largely by Conservative delegates. In other words, a potential anarchic, grass-roots movement has already been hijacked and groomed to support the Conservatives who are not rushing to promise tax cuts should they form the next government.
I shall go anyway and report on this blog about the event. I am rather hoping there will be cucumber sandwiches or, at the very least, buns.