Dalrymple consoles Toynbee

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 22.50.08The electoral defeat of Ed Miliband was doubtless a cruel blow, but at least Polly Toynbee, the eminent Hampstead writer and journalist, will not have to pay mansion tax in the near future, Dalrymple points out. No tanks on her lawns, yet.

Toynbee is very like Mrs Dutt-Pauker in the Daily Telegraph‘s ‘Peter Simple’ column (written by Michael Wharton and illustrated by ffolkes). The doubts Toynbee must now be entertaining about the future of the socialist movement she loves so well are likely to resemble those experienced by Mrs Dutt-Pauker when news came through of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Wharton’s column at the time read in part as follows:

Polly Toynbee: also owns a mansion in Tuscany

Polly Toynbee: in addition to the Hampstead mansion Marxmount, owns a country house in Sussex (Beria Garth) and a villa in Tuscany

Thousands of Hampstead liberal thinkers have suddenly discovered that the Soviet Union, whose little faults they have so long forgiven (‘after all, in spite of everything, it is a socialist country’), is in fact ruled by old-fashioned militaristic imperialists. Even at Marxmount, Mrs Dutt-Pauker’s fine white house whose tall drawing-room windows look out on the Heath, a chill of doubt runs through the handsome rooms. Fear breathes in the well-stocked Marxist bookshelves. The greatest of all Hampstead thinkers has seen a nightmare vision: there are tanks on her own broad, cedared lawns.

On the other hand, Dalrymple writes, it is possible that Toynbee would never have had to pay the mansion tax,

for the difficulties in implementing it would have been a convenient excuse for abandoning it.

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