Tuesday, 30 May 2017


Is the correct answer!
As are all the others!

I’m your top prime cut of meat.
I’m your choice.
I wanna be elected!
Alice Cooper, Elected

The British general election is just over a week away, but so is everything else that will happen on Thursday June 8th. The idea that this election represents some vital decision that the British electorate might be allowed to make is laughable. Democracy was emasculated some time ago, just within my own lifetime. Re-reading Peter Obornes’s extraordinary book The Triumph of the Political Class merely reconfirms the fact that there is no meaningful difference between the two parties contesting the temporary stewardship of the keys to 10 Downing Street, nor is it wished by the new establishment that there should be.

As with the recent presidential election in the USA, the focus has not been on reality but on tone, manner, past errors, ‘gaffes’. There is rarely any mention of any of the most pressing problems facing a country, or union, which once ruled over the majority of the globe, and on whose empire the sun famously never set.

Of course, where there is no genuine political disagreement, the media utilize all their illusory sophistication to ensure that the public believes that there is. I will return to Oborne’s decade-old classic in the future, but the theme of the book is given in typically pithy style;

‘The real divide in British public life is no longer between the main political parties, but between the Political Class and the rest.’

No matter how much the media portray Corbyn as either man of the people or IRA-sympathising Communist, and no matter how they try to portray May as either Evil Tory Scum™ or Thatcher 2.0, they are two wings of the same bird. Elect either Tweedledum or Tweedledee, and you will receive

·        Higher taxes.

·        An increasingly bloated public sector.

·        Peak Scotland.

·        An increasingly inefficient and over-managed NHS.

·        No change in immigration, particularly of Muslims.

·        A gradually climbing national debt and deficit.

·        The same biased, lying media – the Lügenpresse.

·        Increased surveillance of dissenting individuals.

·        A strengthening of Oborne’s Political Class which, he writes, ‘has its emotional and moral roots in 1960s student agitation’.

The UK cannot produce a Donald Trump or even a Beppe Grillo to prevent any of this. It can’t even muster a Wilders or a Le Pen. Farage was the equivalent of a great bit of warm-up, knockabout, foot-of-the-bill entertainment at an English seaside resort music hall, but UKIP were a one-trick pony, and Nuttall always looks as though he is trying to sell you an unreliable car. The only point of UKIP is to trickle-feed the Tory manifesto with half-baked pledges May will, in any case, renege on the moment she gets back through the famous front door. So, Britain will opt for more of the same, and the same is decline.

Back in England a few years ago, someone gifted me a pair of brogue shoes made by Loake, one of the most famous of English shoemakers, dating back to 1880. I only date back to 1961 but, at my age, a curious thought strikes one on receipt of a high-quality item such as these shoes; will they outlive me? Treat a pair of shoes like that well, and there is no reason why I shouldn’t have them on in my coffin. But the West? Europe? The UK? I don’t have the same confidence as I do in the shoes.

As Oborne makes clear, and as a seasoned lobby correspondent he would know, Britain is run by a political class of technocrats. This self-elected aristocracy has little or no interest in ordinary people except at polling time. There are exceptions but, as Oborne makes clear, they may be serving MPs without being a bona fide part of the political class. I vaguely knew one example not so long ago.

He is the MP for the area in which he grew up, as was his father before him. He has never, to my knowledge, been implicated in scandals, expenses or otherwise. He struck me as an ordinary man, with an ordinary family, who felt he had a job of work to do to represent the people of his home, whose comfortable Midlands brogue he spoke. Which is why, unless you are a political obsessive, you will never have heard of Mark Pawsey, MP for Rugby. He would regularly stop in the lobby – not that lobby - to answer some piffling question I had about the process of government, even when he was returning from his early-morning fitness session, and probably would rather have been in the shower rather than telling me about filibustering or gerrymandering.

And Oborne is right. Mr. Pawsey, although a Conservative, is simply not of the political class. Oborne compares the Political Class with the Establishment they usurped, and found that many of the latter ‘believed that their motive for entering public life was public duty.’ This is not so with the upstart arrivistes. The new breed of politicians – with exceptions noted – are venal, self-serving narcissists with contempt for ordinary people and reverence for the type of triangulation and market-testing appropriate to the PR, media and advertising backgrounds from which so many of them emerge.

The incident which, for me, sums up the British political class occurred, I believe, on Barack Obama’s first presidential visit to Britain. At the time, of course, each and every European leader was desperate to be snapped in the same frame as Obama, to touch the royal hem, but Brown was more desperate than most. He had no mandate, and was to fail to take the risk necessary to get one. How he must have wished some of Obama’s fairy-dust would fall on him!

As Obama skipped up the steps to Number 10, he made an impulsive gesture which comes so naturally to those expert in what the then-president calls ‘optics’. He shook the hand of the policeman at the front door. Brown, following half a neck behind, looked at the policeman, who quite naturally extended his hand once again. Brown looked at the man’s arm as though it were a giant dog turd, and walked past him.

Of course, part of the message here is not that there is no political class in the USA. There surely is. It’s just that Obama does ‘optics’ better than a clunking clod-hopper like Brown. It’s Hollywood versus an Ealing comedy. There was a more recent ‘controversy’- which is what you get from the fourth estate now instead of that old, fuddy-duddy, speaking-truth-to-power stuff (Yawn!) – involving that meaningless piece of software known as Theresa May. She – or her policy Daleks – came up with a little snack-sized quote for the press to Tweet; strong and stable leadership. Teacups barely contained the resultant storms. Someone even claimed to have found the phrase ‘strong and stable’ in Mein Kampf. But it wasn’t the two adjectives that interested me, anodyne and pointless as their usage surely is. It is the idea which is now commonplace that any kind of leadership is required from a Prime Minister. You are a public servant, you witless ninny. Although the only party you serve is the party of the first part. Yourself.

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