Friday, September 08, 2006

At the Hustings

It will come as a great relief to you, and to a good many others in this world, to hear that I harbour no political aspirations. Although with a pompous phrase like that I would be well equipped to make political speeches, my interest in politics is zip. Even though I attended a college of knowledge that had “political science” in it’s title, I have no idea what that means – and I still don’t see much science in the business.

Why, you may ask, is this old fool blathering on about politics when he knows nothing of the subject? Well, when I read the London newspapers, as it behoves anyone to do who has an interest in world affairs, and this morning find it difficult to establish just how many have been decimated in the Bush-Blair Iraqi “liberation” or how many have lost everything in Lebanon, together with news of other worldwide events, the reason being that some political kerfuffle over the British Prime Minister and his cohorts has overwhelmed the rest of the news, it sparks my interest.

Now my understanding of democracy as applied to Great Britain was that the government were appointed to oversee the well-being of the populace on a “pro bono publico” basis, not to indulge in verbal fisticuffs with each other. They seem to have missed the whole point of the exercise.

Not having had the experience of living in Britain for many years, I suppose I can look at it a bit objectively. After all, I’m not the one who’s going to get duffed up on the street on my way home from the pub at night nor am I likely to suffer at the hands of a suicide bomber. But surely the government should be taking care of business first?

And today’s politicians seem to have lost their wit along with their wits.

Disraeli once remarked that “It would be a tragedy if anybody were to push Mr. Gladstone into the river – and a disaster if anybody should pull him out.” He also commented that Gladstone “always acted as though he had an ace up his sleeve, and that, moreover, God had placed it there for him.”

Churchill’s repartee is well known and even stuffy old Harold Macmillan perceptively remarked of the Kennedy administration that it was though the Borgias had taken over a small Italian town.

But since then little has been heard from government spokesmen that was not just routine government spokesmenspeech. It’s just like Orwell’s 1984 only not quite so well phrased.

So my interest in politics is only aroused when forced upon me as by this morning’s headlines. I have never lusted power but I do have some small measure of sympathy for those that find themselves in the business of politics and at the head of a nation.

They remind me of that old adage concerning schoolteachers: “Them as can do, them as can’t teach.” One could paraphrase this to read “ Them as can’t boss themselves should go into government to boss everybody else.” Take poor old Blair for instance. he seems to have been a failed guitarist, not even up to the “Docherty, I like your music” get out of jail free card that this drug taking icon can obtain. When he was a barrister (Blair, not Docherty), his briefs seem to have been too brief, so what’s a guy to do? The answer’s obvious – go into politics. Charles Dickens had all this wrapped up in Pickwick Papers and Our Mutual Friend with his perceptive descriptions of the political process.

And having reached the top, all you’re going to wind up with is a load of grief, usually from those who helped you to get there in the first place. No, politics in a democracy is just not worth getting into – and I’m not.

But I’ve been thinking seriously that being a dictator has its attractions, so I’m shipping a letter off to Fidel tomorrow to see if he’s looking for a successor. To me it seems he’s been the most successful politician I can remember. Now that looks like my kind of politics.


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