Now that the blog is being sailed out to battle again I have been
battening down the hatches. In its occasional role as a
travel journal, it had become a bit cosy in appearance and the
sidebar had been put into storage. One of my tasks for the day is
to tidy up the "favourite posts" list in the sidebar and
delete out-of-date items. In doing so I have been re-reading the
posts and have formed a view as to my overall favourite. For the
benefit of newer readers, here
It's been a long time since I visited the mischievous pal in
Swansea whose party inspired it. Perhaps I should ask for a
I am disappointed in Michael Deacon of the Telegraph. He is that once-Conservative paper's Parliamentary sketch-writer, a profession unique to these islands. Satire exists elsewhere, of course. It was invented in Ancient Rome, so that Italian politicians have been exposed to it for millennia. This explains why modern Italian politics has evolved to be so entirely indistinguishable from it.
Johnny Foreigner however is starved of our particular form of the art. Deacon tells us that;
An official from the German embassy in London once told me that the very idea was unthinkable in his country. The satirical parliamentary sketch is an exclusively British curiosity upon which outsiders look with polite bafflement, as if we were proudly showing them our antique collection of Beatrix Potter-themed thimbles.
So much the worse for Germany. It should never be unthinkable to prick the pomposity of politicians. Had some witty German devised a joke name for Adolf Hitler as good as Bernard Levin's 'Sir Reginald Bullying-Manner' (for Attorney-General Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller) we could all now think of that cultured country without the image of that tedious little Austrian popping up in our heads.
My disappointment is that Deacon shows signs of weakness. He is a fan of Miss Paine the Younger's second-favourite TV show, Borgen and is sad that no equivalent could be successfully presented in Britain. He shamefully seems to sympathise with former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith when she bleats that
Borgen is wonderful because it “portrays a leader struggling with the choices required of a position of political power, experiencing the impact of that on family and other relationships, sometimes falling short, but essentially showing politics to be the honourable profession that I believe it to be”
Yes and LA Law was an accurate presentation of life in a legal practice.
Mr Paine and a colleague in his days as a lawyer
A profession is a self-governing body of trained specialists subject to a set of ethical rules limiting the ways in which its members can profit from their skills. Which part of that does Smith think describes her shabby, corrupt and predatory occupation? As for the word 'honourable', she displays the characteristic chutzpah of the politician in even uttering it. She should shun it as I should 'slim', 'svelte' and 'buffed'; words that if uttered by me of myself would reduce all around to helpless laughter.
To be serious for a paragraph, the job of a politician in a modern social-democratic state is essentially to seize by force more than half our earnings, blend them with obscene amounts of debt and use them to bribe us into voting for more of the same. There is no 'honour' in a task so sordid. Any decent human would feel soiled by it and thus the only such who become politicians are those once-in-a-generation-if-we-are-lucky sorts who want to get the state off our backs. These rarities are loathed and routinely defamed by the rest of the political class precisely because they threaten the fat and toothsome body politic those parasites infest.
So man up, Deacon. You perform an honourable function in ridiculing, undermining and slowing the advance of these predators. If you are really so bothered by watching Borgen with subtitles, perhaps you just need some varifocals?
I love Matt Walsh's elision of psycho customers with power-crazed politicians here. His post is addressed to a lady who barged into his fast-food queue to complain intemperately about a mistake in her order. People like her, he comments;
...think their hallowed “customer” status somehow gives them the right to treat everyone with a uniform and a name tag like garbage. They think their past encounters with subpar service make it acceptable for them to fly off the handle about ketchup every once in a while. They think the rules of basic decency and respect come second when they are The Customer. And they’re wrong.
Do you ever wonder why we have so many atrocious politicians...? Well, you shouldn’t wonder. Just look in the mirror. Bad politicians are generally bad because they can’t handle power. It goes right to their head. They become narcissistic, petty, controlling sociopaths. But at least it’s a lot of power, so the temptation to be corrupted by it is almost understandable. You, on the other hand, become a maniacal tyrant when society hands you temporary and meaningless power over 17 year old fast food cashiers. I shudder to think what you’d do if you had an army at your disposal.
Personally, I always try always to be polite to people in low paid jobs. I used to do them and might yet have to return to them if inflated into poverty by the said politicians. Personally I would prefer that sociopaths stayed out of politics and confined themselves to being rude to servers. I think, as the taxes fell on their wages so that they could begin to earn their way out of poverty, the servers might prefer it too.
Sadly sociopaths are as attracted to jobs in politics as paedophiles are to jobs in childcare.
Apropos of my previous post and the widespread delusion that candid photography is against the law, Iain Dale is busy digging himself deeper into a hole after an ill-advised photographic tweet on his way home last night (click to enlarge).
I defend his freedom of speech, of course, but I think he should be happy the lady cannot be identified as the publication is arguably libellous.
As a libertarian, I think the laws of defamation fall under the category of "de trop", but for so long as they exist (and they have been around a long time) Iain needs, particularly as a professional communicator, to bear them in mind. Fortunately for him, the first time anyone would have chance to consider the effect on her reputation would be if she were rash enough to identify herself by suing. So she won't. Before she even considers it, she ought to read about the role of an ill-judged defamation suit in Oscar Wilde's downfall.
It's a surprising lapse for Iain who is famous for his media skills and a highly accomplished communicator (usually of not very much). An amusing Twitterstorm has ensued, as the professionally-offended on the Left take up chivalric cudgels while calling him a c**t and a w*****r without any sense of irony. They are also ranting on about the breach of this anonymous lady's privacy, which is nonsense. Firstly, she's still anonymous and secondly she was in a public place. Anywhere you can lawfully be looked at, you can generally be photographed. People take photos on trains all the time, and - although usually incidentally - there are almost always strangers in the frame.
For what it's worth, I think Mr Dale is guilty of bad manners and a surprising, for him, lack of media savvy. He says she was behaving badly, but the picture doesn't illustrate his point in any way. She could just be depressed or tired. As it comes down to his word, he should probably have left it at words.
Iain is in danger of being seen as using the hammer of his influence to crack the nut of his irritation with a minor disturbance to his peace (allegedly) caused by this woman. Sadly he comes off looking like a pompous prat. In his own interests he should have apologised immediately but having rashly mounted his high horse he's having trouble getting off. His lines of defence look tortured and weak (can he really not have realised the sexual connotations of 'slapper?') and are doing him no good.
The only benefit to his not apologising is that the stream of gleefully sanctimonious responses show the British Left up for the insufferable prigs they mostly are. Ironically, if this tweet represented his true character, it would be a trait Iain had in common with them.
EU-sceptics who predicted the failure of the single currency have been feeling pretty smug for a while. Now, those who have long complained that our political class was being bribed into support for the EU can also start telling their EU-mug friends "I told you so". According to today's FT:
A British MEP who leads the European parliament’s most powerful committee on economics and financial regulation is facing the threat of being ousted in a post-summit backlash against Britain.
The moves against Sharon Bowles, the Liberal Democrat who chairs the Economic and Monetary Affairs committee, threaten to make her one of the first casualties of UK prime minister David Cameron’s decision to wield the UK veto ... Although no formal request to change the committee chair has yet been tabled, some MEPs are openly calling for Ms Bowles to resign and are questioning whether a British MEP has the credibility to lead a committee dealing with the eurozone – a movement gathering momentum after Britain’s defiant stand at last week’s summit ... In a sign of the mounting pressure on British representatives in Brussels, Elmar Brok, a veteran German MEP, said it was time to “marginalise Britain, so that the country comes to feel its loss of influence” ...
So far so good. Our EUSSR comrades are wielding sticks and carrots to steer our political donkeys. Need we worry at all about their chosen beast? After all, the LibDems are among the EUSSR's most committed fifth columnists, so it seems a little mis-directed. Wait though, there may be some logic in their choice:
Although Ms Bowles’ views often clash with those of the UK Treasury, her position makes her the most influential British MEP and one of the diminishing points of UK leverage over a bout of Brussels rulemaking that seeks to reshape the City of London
Aha! Fortunately, the key word here is "seek." Good luck with that, comrades. And good luck with the Tobin Tax and censoring the output of the ratings agencies too. In fact, I hope you do both as soon as possible, the better to drive your investors to the City. We actually don't need the 15% of the EU's financial transactions carried out in your inferior, less trusted markets but times are tight and we wouldn't say no if you are really that stupid.
The EU is and always was a corrupt, anti-democratic farce. All that could perfect my schadenfreude as this delicious end-game unfolds would be for a British Prime Minister to have the testicular fortitude to lead us out before it collapses or we are expelled.
Not that being expelled from a collapsing edifice is such a terrible fate.