We may not like to admit it, but there’s a bit of Nathalie Elphick in all of us

There’s a story about a person I know, let’s call him a friend, who went out with this girl, let’s call her Amber, the flame haired sixth-form siren, for two magical, passion-filled weeks in 1984, before she ended it, claiming the relationship had run its course.

“You’re a lovely bloke, eh thingy,” she told him, figurative reaching into his chest with her blackened claw, and callously ripping out his heart. “It’s just that it’s not going to work between us. It’s not you, it’s me. I guess I’m just not ready for that kind of commitment.”

The real reason for the break-up became clear the following week, when he saw Amber riding around in the passenger seat of his best friend’s newly acquired Ford Escort XR3 turbo.

I was reminded of this cautionary tale as I watched Nathalie Elphick cross the floor of the House of Commons on Wednesday, defecting from Conservative to Labour, at the start of Prime Minister’s Questions.

As Rishi Sunak looked-on, he wore the same look of post-pubescent betrayal and humiliation that was etched across the face of poor old thingy all those years ago.

Nathalie Elphick is not your run-of-the-mill politician. Where others see potentially career-ending tragedy, humiliation and failure, Nathalie sees only opportunity.

When her husband Charlie, whom she married in 1995, was accused of sexually assaulting two women, she stood by him dutifully, dismissing the allegations as fabricated, and motivated by political opportunists.

Elphicke was “attractive and attracted to women” she said of this pie-faced, grope-a-minute Torybot, “an easy target for dirty politics and false allegations.”

Only after he was convicted, did she decide that she should, not only divorce him, but also succeed him as MP for Dover. That’s one in the eye for his accusers.

There she berthed, as a loyal foot-stomper in the Sunak militia, pulsing her veins about small boats and other crucial, dog whistle issues, and she even appeared alongside her Eternal Leader at events…until last week.

I can imagine her holding the hand of the short-trousered one, telling him: “It’s not you, er thingy, it’s me. I’m just not ready for that kind of commitment.” All the time eyeing up Sir Keir Starmer’s souped-up XR3 with its low-profile tyres, go-faster stripes, and deafening exhaust baffle.

It’s that kind of principle, loyalty, and commitment… combined with hard-headed, what’s-in-it-for-me, run-for-the-exits-when-it-all-goes-tits-up pragmatism…that Labour needs right now to convince voters it can be trusted to stick to its guns, and do what’s best for the country.

The reality is, however, that in employment terms, we are all more like Nathalie Elphicke than we would care to admit.

Few of us would stick around in a job, if our employer was a useless, over-promoted accountant who didn’t care whether his company crashed and burned, because he had married into money and had a first-class air ticket burning a hole in the pocket of his tight little drainpipe trousers.

Nor would anyone expect us to. The days when we spent our working lives with the same firm, or even in the same industry, are long gone, as disruptive technologies, the gig economy and flexible contacts have ushered in a new era of short-term employment and career fluidity.

Baby boomers and Gen X workers could often expect to stay with the same employer for 30 years, before retiring with a carriage clock.

Millennials’ average time in a job of two years and nine months while, for Gen Z workers, it’s just two years and three months.

In a tight employment market, companies often must overpay employees because of the nature of the business and the skills and knowledge they have accumulated.

With Gen Z workers and Millennials changing jobs so frequently, it’s difficult to manage their expectations because they are always on the lookout for change, believing that they are in demand and worthy of greater reward.

The problem for Nathalie Elphicke is that she is…how can I put this delicately…no spring chicken, and she will soon learn the hard way that her own estimation of her talents and value are not matched by her new employer.

She was hardly in the Labour fold two minutes before it was “clarified” by the leadership, that the party’s candidate at the forthcoming election for the seat which she currently holds, will not be her.

I saw Amber in my local Tesco recently and the years had not been kind to her. The fags, the booze, the sun, and the high cholesterol diet had, it seemed, all taken their toll.

She married thingy’s best friend, but things started to wrong almost immediately. The last straw came when the XR3 broke down and she had to help him push it for three miles, dressed in her stonewashed denim jacket, ra-ra skirt and kitten heels.

It made me think how, in life, everything is temporary, even more so in politics and employment where you can become yesterday’s news in the blink of an eye.

Posted on: 13th May 2024 by Ivor Campbell

Into his fourth decade of search Ivor has a voice with stories to tell, observations to make and the odd picture to share. Mostly related to the day job.

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