Revolution isn't easy

Spanking, mascara and a range of other thorny topics

Dear Marina,

Thought I'd ask for your assistance on tackling what I am sure will be a thorny issue over the next few weeks, that is being accused of suffering from a traditional Conservative pastime, I am led to believe, of taking a spanking. I am assured that all the best schools still appreciate this form of 'social education', never did me any harm and all that, but I am worried that the younger generations today lack the stiff upper lipishness to take it without blubbing. What is your advice on dealing with this situation?

Chin up dear gal, we shall overcome.


Wurzel Fortesque-Smythe, 3rd Earl of Little Snodgrass.

I too Lord Snodgrass have recently been tainted by this pastime so beloved of that Spliffing Toff and his lackeys.

Oh sir! The anguish, the guilt, the turmoil. There was nothing I could do to stop them. Over the knees I went, my skirt pulled up unceremoniously, exposing my pert bare cheeks to the vagaries of their strike. Thwack! Thwack! And Thwack again!

Believe me sir, I implored them to stop, I fought hard to escape, but my squeals of protestation fell on deaf ears and the more I struggled, the harder they spanked. I stand before you, scarred, sir but an innocent party to this cheek drubbing. Our seats didn’t stand a chance.

When I have recovered enough to sit down I promise you sir I shall have my revenge on these Tories for their sadistic perversion of the democratic process.

In short sir, they so spanked the wrong peach bottom.

Dear Marina,

I come from four generations of coal miners, my first memory is of mum singing The Internationale and I have spent most of my adult life in Riffley WMC. My problem is that I am seriously thinking about getting into politics, considering the local election results do you think I should try and become a Tory councillor?

On the fence, Riffley

Are you really suggesting that if you can’t beat them you should join them? People like me didn’t lay down our political lives so that people who should know better swap sides for the enemy.

Please, either contact your local Liberal Democrats or go lie down in a darkened room until common sense prevails.

Dear Marina,

I have never been a fan of my local MP Tony Blair, and was very active in the anti-war protests - even burning an effigy of the man. But when I watched him in Sedgefield last night, I have to admit to shedding a tear or two. Am I strange or do, like me, most middle aged housewives secretly just want to hug him?

Homemaker, Sedgefield

Pull yourself together woman. This is the man who brought the Labour party to its knees, our country to war and rendered the NHS unstable and critical. Among other things.

I missed most of his speech yesterday owing to a sudden need to vomit in a bucket I had foresightedly placed beside me for that very purpose. So I cannot comment on yesterday’s performance.

But hug Tony Blair? He’s not some wayward toddler in need of love and attention, he’s a grown man with an ego the size of Mars and the morals of a Babylonian whore.

Now get yourself along to your doctor and ask him to prescribe Bromide incase we have a snap General Election and you’re tempted to vote for him.

Dear Marina,

Why do women always have to put mascara on with their mouths open?

GB, Downing St

Because, Gordie, it would smudge under the eyes, otherwise. Please, I know you’re trying to appeal to women, but this isn’t working. Please don’t ask me another. Oh, and expect a demonstration when you get to Brighton on Sunday. In 1997 you pledged to never let houseprices spiral out of control. Here in Brighty the boom – or should that be bubble - adds £74.00 to the value of a home, EVERY DAY!

I’m delighted you listened to me regarding ID cards. Review by all means, but don’t forget to cancel the order once you’ve rounded up the paper work But you must also concentrate on housing needs, otherwise it won’t be a peaceful revolution and you’ll be the first up against the wall with David Cameron wielding the Cat-o-nine-tails!

Dear Marina,

After the local elections has Ming “the vase” shattered his chances of leading the party at the next


Some critics might argue as to whether the vase is half full or half empty. Some might even mix their metaphors to ask: “Is it half baked?” I would suggest, as does God, I believe, in the bible, that we should concentrate on the empty vessels that make the most noise (Corinthians). Ming’s deafening silence during the run up to the local elections, therefore, could be construed as proof positive that the vase overfloweth – with flowers of the revolution perhaps.

It would be helpful if he could hang on a bit as my road to parliament – and leadership -has been blocked by an unwelcome landslide but I’m digging myself out as fast as I can. For as sure as Ming’s dynastic reign must come to an end, so surely must come the revolution. Viva Ming! Viva the revolution. Viva my parliamentary campaign which is already accepting donations to the usual address.

Dear Marina

This is just to say sorry about your election result last week. I'm in
the Green Party and I'm always surprised at your choice of party but we
need all the active original politicians we can get. Good courageous
stuff about the war too! Perhaps East Saltdean isn't the best place to
start the revolution but I hope you will find other ways to continue to
be active.

In solidarity,

Chris Smith, Lewes

Revolutions begin with like-minded individuals grouping together for strength and working together for change. Whether it’s a gradual change “in due course” or fast and radical, depends on the revolution.

I disagree that East Saltdean is an unsuitable locale for revolutionary zest. Let’s face it, if I can get my Tory voting neighbours to go green (small ‘g’ OBVIOUSLY!), through education and empowerment I sincerely believe our success could be replicated anywhere!

I can’t answer for our newly elected Conservative Councillors though. What a bunch of ….. No I promised myself to reclaim the ideology associated with that particular anatomical reference as a positive for womankind . . .

But as I’ve often said: if you’re blue and you want to go green, you need yellow. I still have my town council seat. I shall use this minute, almost homeopathic, dose of Liberal Democracy to heal my people of their moment of madness. I shall happily square up to the henchmen of the Spliffing Toff sitting across the council chamber. I shall work harder than ever to prepare my community for change.

Come the next General Election I will do all in my power to squeeze the shit out of the Conservative vote to ensure our constituents are protected from the prospect of a millionaire Tory from out of town being returned to parliament as our MP.

Regarding your surprise at my choice of political party, it really is a no brainer. As a practitioner of community politics I find Liberal Democrat policies practical to implement and highly effective, particularly in the area of crime reduction.

If I had my way I’d have the Greens absorbed into the Liberal Democrats. It wouldn’t necessarily enhance our green credentials, as we’re already doing that for ourselves. It would however stop you lot running round like anarchists standing for election wherever you fancy, splitting the vote and delivering the Conservatives to office.

Perhaps the Greens secretly hanker for a Tory government in the hopes that a dictatorial regime in the spirit of Thatcher might wave the flag for green fascism.

Thank you for supporting my anti-war protest, as did many old soldiers at the reunion dinner of the Royal Sussex Regiment to which I was invited as a guest and after dinner speaker. All I said was “as a future leader I pledge never to take this great army of ours into an illegal war.” I cannot apologise for the furore, as I never mentioned Iraq. But at least we know now that those soldiers present from the Princess of Wales regiment, who led the booing, recognise the invasion of Iraq as illegal. Now they and the press who turned against me, just need convincing that it is the Emperor who is naked and in need of a new outfit, not the “small boy” who is wrong and deserving of punishment.

No one said the revolution was going to be easy…

Marina Pepper is a former glamour model turned journalist, author, eco-campaigner and Lib Dem politician. A councillor and former Parliamentary candidate, she lives near Brighton with her two children.
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What's to be done about racial inequality?

David Cameron's words on equal opportunities are to be welcomed - now for some action, says Sunder Katwala.

David Cameron made the strongest, clearest and most high profile statement about ethnic inequalities and the need to tackle discrimination ever yet offered by a British Prime Minister in his leader’s speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
“Picture this. You’ve graduated with a good degree. You send out your CV far and wide. But you get rejection after rejection. What’s wrong? It’s not the qualifications or the previous experience. It’s just two words at the top: first name, surname. Do you know that in our country today: even if they have exactly the same qualifications, people with white-sounding names are nearly twice as likely to get call backs for jobs than people with ethnic-sounding names? … That, in 21st century Britain, is disgraceful. We can talk all we want about opportunity, but it’s meaningless unless people are really judged equally”, said Cameron.
While the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, this was a powerfully argued Prime Ministerial intervention – and a particularly well-timed one, for three reasons.

Firstly, the Prime Minister was able to root his case in an all-but-universally accepted appeal for equal opportunities. It will always prove more difficult in practice to put political energy and resources behind efforts to remedy discrimination against a minority of the population unless a convincing fairness case is made that values cherished across our whole society are at stake. Cameron’s argument, that any party which tells itself that it is the party of the ‘fair chance’ and ‘the equal shot’ must have a response when there is such clear evidence of discrimination, should prove persuasive to a Conservative Party that has not seen race inequalities as its natural territory. Cameron argued that the same principles should animate responses to discrimination when it comes to race, gender and social class. Put like that, wanting job interviews to be fair – by eradicating conscious and unconscious patterns of bias wherever possible – would strike most Britons as offering as clear a case of the values of fair play as wanting the best baker to win the Great British Bake-Off on television.
Secondly, Cameron’s intervention comes at a potential "tipping point" moment for fair opportunities across ethnic groups. Traditionally, ethnic discrimination has been discussed primarily through the lens of its impact on the most marginalised. Certainly, persistent gaps in the criminal justice system, mental health provision and unemployment rates remain stark for some minority groups. What has been less noticed is the emergence of a much more complex pattern of opportunity and disadvantage – not least as a consequence of significant ethnic minority progress.

Most strikingly of all, in educational outcomes, historic attainment gaps between ethnic minorities and their white British peers have disappeared over the last decade. In the aggregate, ethnic minorities get better GCSE results on average. Ethnic minority Britons are more likely, not less likely, to be university graduates than their fellow citizens. 

As a result of that progress, Cameron’s intervention comes at a moment of significant potential – but significant risk too. Britain’s ethnic minorities are the youngest and fastest-growing sections of British society. If that educational progress translates into economic success, it will make a significant contribution to the "Great British Take-Off" that the Prime Minister envisions. But if that does not happen, with educational convergence combined with current ‘ethnic penalties’ in employment and income persisting, then that potential could well curdle into frustration that the British promise of equal opportunities is not being kept.  Cameron also mirrored his own language in committing himself to both a ‘fight against extremism’ and a ‘fight against discrimination’: while those are distinct challenges and causes, actively pursuing both tracks simultaneously has the potential, at least, depolarise some debates about responses to extremism  - and so to help deepen the broad social coalitions we need for a more cohesive society too.

Thirdly, Cameron’s challenge could mark an important deepening in the political competition between the major parties on race issues. Many have been struck by the increase in political attention on the centre-right to race issues over the last five to ten years. The focus has been on the politics of representation. By increasing the number of non-white Conservative MPs from two to seventeen since 2005, Cameron has sent a powerful signal that Labour’s traditional claim to be ‘the party of ethnic minorities’ would now be contested. Cameron was again able to celebrate in Manchester several ways in which his Cabinet and Parliamentary benches demonstrate many successful journeys of migrant and minority integration in British society. That might perhaps help to ease the fears, about integration being impossible in an era of higher immigration, which the Home Secretary had articulated the previous day.

So symbolism can matter. But facial diversity is not enough. The politics of ethnic minority opportunity needs to be about more than visits to gurdwaras, diversity nights at the party conference fringes and unveiling statues of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square. Jeremy Corbyn’s first speech as Labour leader did include one brief celebratory reference to Britain’s ethnic diversity – “as I travelled the country during the leadership campaign it was wonderful to see the diversity of all the people in our country” – and to Labour bringing in more black, Asian and ethnic minority members - but it did not include any substantial content on discrimination. Tim Farron acknowledged during his leadership campaign that the Liberal Democrats have struggled to get to the starting-line on race and diversity at all. The opposition parties too will no doubt now be challenged to match not just the Prime Minister’s rhetorical commitment to challenging inequalities but also to propose how it could be done in practice.

Non-white Britons expect substance, not just symbolism from all of the parties on race inequalites.  Survation’s large survey of ethnic minority voters for British Future showed the Conservatives winning more ethnic minority support than ever before – but just 29 per cent of non-white respondents were confident that the Conservatives are committed to treating people of every ethnic background equally, while 54 per cent said this of Labour. Respondents were twice as likely to say that the Conservatives needto do more to reach out – and the Prime Minister would seem to be committed to showing that he has got that message.  Moreover, there is evidence that ethnic inclusion could be important in broadening a party’s appeal to other younger, urban and more liberal white voters too – which is why it made sense for this issue to form part of a broader attempt by David Cameron to colonise the broad centre of British politics in his Manchester speech.

But the case for caution is that there has been limited policy attention to ethnic inequalities under the last two governments. Restaurateur Iqbal Wahhab decided to give up his role chairing an ethnic minority taskforce for successive governments, unconvinced there was a political commitment to do much more than convene a talking shop. Lib Dem equalities minister Lynne Featherstone did push the CV discrimination issue – but many Conservatives were sceptical. Cameron’s new commitment may face similar challenges from those whose instinct is to worry that more attention to discrimination or bias in the jobs market will mean more red tape for business.

Labour had a separate race inequalities manifesto in 2015, outside of its main election manifesto, while the Conservative manifesto did not contain significant commitments to racial inequality. The mid-campaign launch in Croydon of a series of race equality pledges showed an increasing awareness of the growing importance of ethnic minority votes - though the fact that they all involved aiming for increases of 20 per cent by 2020 gave them a slightly back-of-the-envelope feel. 

Prime Ministerial commitments have an important agenda-setting function. A generation ago the Stephen Lawrence case opened the eyes of middle England to racist violence and police failures, particularly through the Daily Mail’s persistent challenging of those injustices. A Conservative Prime Minister’s words could similarly make a big difference in the mainstreaming of the issue of inequalities of opportunity. What action should follow words? Between now and next year’s party conference season, that must will now be the test for this Conservative government – and for their political opponents too. 

Sunder Katwala is director of British Future and former general secretary of the Fabian Society.