“Why are you screaming and hugging?”

John Rentoul

Gaitskell 225x300 Why are you screaming and hugging?“It’s the wrong people who are clapping!”

I meant to refer last week to this quotation from Dora Gaitskell, wife of Hugh, who expressed her horror at the applause for his “thousand years of history” Eurosceptic speech to Labour conference in 1962.

Andrew Rawnsley got there first, in his column for The Observer today. It is an apt echo of the response to David Cameron’s speech on Wednesday, also Eurosceptic, and also applauded by his enemies.

I was going to make a different point, though, which is that few people these days know who Gaitskell was, or what the split between the Gaitskellites and the Bevanites was about.

So I wanted to update the quotation.

Friends Series 4 Episode 19, “The One With All The Haste”.

Monica: You wanna finish this right now? All right, we get a deck of cards, high card wins. What do you say?

Chandler: Fine, let’s do it.

Phoebe: Oh, I have cards!

Joey: Oh.

Monica: Oh, good.

Phoebe: Yeah! Here! (She grabs a deck out of her purse.) Oh no, these are the trick deck. Okay. Here yes. Okay.

Chandler: Okay, you guys uh, you guys pick first.

Rachel: Okay.

Monica: Okay. (She picks a card.) Four.

Chandler: That’s a low one!

Joey: Yeah! Okay. (Joey picks a card.) Phoebe, you look, I can’t.

Phoebe: What make you think I can?! (Shields her eyes from it.)

Joey: Okay. Okay. (He looks at the card.) Ace!

(Both Joey and Chandler and Monica and Rachel jump up and down for joy.)

Chandler: Why are you screaming and hugging?

Monica: Because we won our apartment back!

Joey: What? Ace is high! Jack, queen, king, ace!

Monica: No! Ace is low! Ace, two, three, four!

(They all look to Phoebe to settle this.)

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  • Junius

    I am old enough to remember Hugh Gaitskell, but my abiding memory is of his defiant ‘Fight, fight and fight again’ speech after Conference had voted to adopt a unilateralist approach to nuclear weapons.

    Another memorable Conference speech was Sunny Jim Callaghan’s taunting ‘She wouldn’t say yes, she wouldn’t say no’, daring the Liberals to pull the rug from under his minority government.

    Yet another Conference speech I vividly remember was Neil Kinnock’s devastating ‘ A Labour council, a Labour council’ baiting the Liverpool Militants and drawing a furious outburst from Derek Hatton.

    What do these three Labour leaders have in common? And no, they did not all go on to become European Union Commissioners.

  • reformist lickspittle

    One became prime minister, one surely would have done had he lived, and one could and should have done – had not millions of voters not been brainwashed by an exceptionally virulent, distorting and cynical Tory press at their height??

    I doubt that is the answer you were looking for, but it is the correct one ;)

  • Junius

    A valiant attempt, reformist lickspittle, but alas not the answer I was looking for.

    So you do not win the first prize of a day out, listening to the debates in the European Parliament. You do however win a consolation prize of two days out, listening to the debates in the European Parliament.

  • Adam Snow

    “what the what the split…” Have I strayed into the Guardian website by mistake?

  • David Boothroyd

    Got your memories in a twist there, Defoe. ‘She wouldn’t say yes, she wouldn’t say no’ was Harold Macmillan at the Conservative Party conference in 1962, a week after Gaitskell. Are you confusing it with Callaghan’s speech to the TUC in 1978 where he sang Vesta Victoria’s “Waiting at the church”? This wasn’t a taunt to the Liberals, but intended as a hint that there would be no election. Almost everyone took it as the opposite.

  • Junius

    ‘She wouldn’t say yes, she wouldn’t say no’ was Harold Macmillan at the Conservative Party conference in 1962, a week after Gaitskell.’

    Quite so, Mr Boothroyd. As a meeting with the Grim Reaper draws ever closer, one’s memory can play tricks with one.

    Also, Mr Macmillan did win a general election.

  • John Rentoul

    Thanks. Amended.

  • greggf

    What, you mean Kinnock should have become PM, reform were it not for the virulent blah, blah….?
    I hope I have misunderstood your post!

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