Luddite triumphans

And that is why I never use email. This lifestyle choice has led the “Tory Trendies” (a definitively oxymoronic splinter group within Central Office) to label me, to their great amusement, “The Luddite” and, when they discovered that I do not carry a mobile phone, “Landline”. Forgive me for crowing, but the events of the past week have surely proved to be Landline’s revenge. Or, to essay a little poetry, Luddite triumphans.

For longer than I care to remember, I have had to bear the Tory Trendies clogging up the corridors and twittering away about “to CC or not to CC”. Hardly a day goes by without me having to explain patiently that there is no point attempting to “loop me” via email, because any such effort will simply be returned to sender, address unknown. When people threaten, “I’ll text you,” I mutter, “No, you won’t,” fully aware that it will not be until they look more closely at my card that they realise it is impossible to carry out their threats.

On the many occasions the TTs have questioned me about what they consider to be my eccentricity, I respond with two words: “Alan” and “Clark”. If you had approached dear Alan and informed him that every piece of tit and tattle he’d ever uttered would be recorded in writing he would have gone greyer than he did after he heard the result of the first leadership ballot. The whole point about effective gossip is that it is your word against that of the less eloquent gossipee. Nothing is recorded. Until, of course, and as Alan did, you decide to publish your diaries and write everything down very much as you remember it, with no fear of any contradictory emails or texts appearing from the woodpile.

The technocrats, in their enthusiasm to be à la mode, have overlooked a fatal flaw in their gizmos – they provide accessibility, but not anonymity. So it was that, when I heard about “the filthy emails”, I assumed that one of the Trendies had once again gone too far and as a result buggered up my plans for the weekend. Imagine my delight when they proved to be the work not of a callow Tory, but of Seven Chins McBride (surely on his salary he can afford a balanced diet). You would have thought they had enough people within their own party who needed smearing to have no time left over for us, but evidently not.

The utter blissfulness of the story was complete when it was revealed that the recipient of “the filthy emails” was none other than Derek Draper. Many things surprise me in politics, but few more than that this flake is routinely described as “very clever”. He is a psychotherapist, for goodness’ sake. He writes self-help books. In a desperate grasp at status, the hypergamist has married a GMTV presenter. Once, they wed the stolid daughters of the aristocracy; now they marry Strictly Come Dancing contestants. O tempora, o mores.

Good riddance to the pair of them. They have done us a service by providing a salutary warning to the Trendies, who have gone underground to erase hard disks and wipe mobile-phone records, and now they can depart. Gideon’s way has once more proved to be correct. Even Little George rang me on the landline to thank me for having – forcibly, it must be admitted – convinced him to destroy his BlackBerry on his return from Corfu. It lies at the bottom of the Thames, beside the political careers of Draper and McBride. A place, aptly, where they will struggle to get reception.

This article first appeared in the 20 April 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Who polices our police?