Rewatching The Good Life on the eve of the election

A right-aligned image, fnar

Beloved British sitcom The Good Life is a snapshot of a better, kinder, Britain, the pre-Thatcher Britain of the 70s, with high tax rates for the rich and working infrastructure. House price inflation and property speculation hadn’t quite taken hold. A three bedroom detached house in Surbiton would have cost twenty times less when Tom and Barbara were buying. They’re supposed to have been there since 1967 at least, when they borrowed a nutcracker off the neighbours, which they failed to return. A similar property today would cost around £1 million.

So the lifestyle portrayed in the show is possible because it was possible, then, to have savings, to pay off a mortgage, to see a doctor, dentist etc., to cover local taxes out of the little money you brought in from selling your soft fruits, at a time when soft fruits were only sold when they were in season.

Politically, most of them are straightforward. Margot’s snobbishness and ignorance, her obliviousness about her privilege, her wilful blindness about how damn lucky she is to live in a socialist country all combine to make her a natural Tory. She expresses disdain for socialists and radicals and hates change. Would she vote for Johnson’s radicalised right wing party? Of course: ignorant, oblivious, stubborn; of course she would.

Jerry, with his constant complaints about traffic on London Bridge, of which he is part of the problem, is another natural Conservative. His kneejerk prejudices would also turn him, in the fulness of time into someone who would flirt with UKIP and then the Brexit Party. Farage’s fakery would appeal to him, his pints down the pub, rounds of golf, smutty magazines. But he’d be returning to the fold about now and voting for Johnson.

Tom is a Clarkson-style libertarian, a scofflaw and a sexist, at home with the aristocrats and tradesmen alike. He hates decimalisation, metric measurements, and changes to the Counties and local authorities. Of course he’d vote UKIP, then Brexit. The twat.

Barbara’s the only slight puzzle. She seems lovely, compassionate, kind, thoughtful. But then she stays married to her Brexit-voting husband, and somehow manages not to kill her Tory neighbours. So I’m afraid that Barbara, too, is a natural Tory. But would she vote for Johnson, a philanderer and liar? I actually think she’d probably bite the bullet and vote tactically.

Be like Barbara, not Tom.

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