This morning the allotments felt like the bleak and lonely place that Captain Mainwaring retired to for his honeymoon. A howling wind, driving rain and finger-numbing temperature welcomed us when we arrived to release the hens. Dozens of them declined the invitation of the opened coop-doors, who can blame them. Only mad old codgers were out and about this morning.
It all seemed to sum up what has been a bleak week for our country. Most worrying of all are polls showing the greatest disillusionment ever with politicians. There was a time when on a visit to the pub one studiously avoided talking politics for fear of triggering an angry debate. Now it is safe ground, everyone seems to have reached a point of total distrust in every party, every politician. That is not a healthy situation for what has largely remained a stable, tolerant democracy, one often cited across the world as an example to follow. It has often been remarked that were there a revolution in Britain no one would turn up if Man Utd were on the telly, we may now have reached the point where one has to add and playing Man City!
This week’s final proof of the corrupt relationship between a gutter-press and the most senior members of the government has merely served to confirm what most people already believed, that the cancer of dishonesty and corruption that developed during the Blair years has now enveloped almost every corner of government. Today we learn that the Prime Minister may be preparing to jettison Jeremy Hunt, and it is difficult not to feel a sneaking sympathy for that overly-ambitious young man.
It has become obvious that he traded approval by the government for the Murdoch takeover of BSkyB for approval of the government by the News Corp headline-writers. But there he was with Rupert’s representatives breathing down his neck on one side, whilst on the other he was very aware of the fact that the Prime Minister was socialising continually with the Murdoch heirarchy. A leading Tory minister has said that he should have “stood up to Cameron and told Murdoch there would be no contact”, but the pressures must have been immense.
We even learn of his hiding behind a tree on his way to one of many private dinners with James Murdoch, to avoid being seen by media correspondents who were by then scenting blood. Now it will be his that will be spilt as Cameron’s office begins to leak the possibility of the Prime Minister “exercising his authority”. But who will exercise authority over the greatest villain of the plot?
The usual tactic of leading politicians at such time is to wait to see if “things move on”. In reality they are now doing so, but in very much the wrong direction. If a general election was held this week the polls tell us that Labour would carry a ten-point lead. More significantly, the majority of the nation would cry a plague on all their houses.
In fact there are elections of lesser importance this week. They will undoubtedly reflect a rejection of the government, but with far less than half the electorate registering a vote. But there will be one exception. Boris Johnson will win the London mayoral contest. If so, how can it be that he will buck the trend?
Many disagree with many of the things that Johnson stands for, but most have a sneaking admiration for the guy. He is funny, loopy in fact. But he is honest. You may not like what he says, but you can be sure that what he says represents what he believes. Yesterday he attacked Osborne’s ludicrous handling of the economy and, for good measure, spoke out against elitism. The mad Boris comes from the same kind of background as Cameron, but he is perfectly at home trading insults with any roadsweeper he meets. He is of the people and understands the tremendous strains that they are now under. At the very least he inclines us to laugh at rather than despise him.
Asked if he will replace Cameron, Boris yesterday replied that it is as likely as his being found locked in a giant freezer. So it has a chance. But whatever happens we need a change. Every leading politician now employs an army of special advisers. Two of them, Werrity and Smith, have emerged from the shadows in recent times and they have taught us a lot. Unelected, and unaccountable, young wizards are doing dirty deeds and spinning lies galore with their employers egging them on. All semblance of truth has gone.
Old codgers tend to reflect back to World War 2 more than perhaps they should. But this I know, Churchill told the truth and told it continually. He depressed us, he inspired us. He wasn’t God, but in dark times he was the next best thing in that we knew we were hearing the truth and nothing but the truth, however painful it may have been.
We have a sneaking feeling that at some point an aspiring leader will say that he or she has no need of spin-doctors, and will henceforth tell it just as it is, warts and all. Until that day dawns the present bunch might just as well shut-up for no one believes anything they say.
MISPRINT OR DIVINE REVELATION?
” I believe to make a prosperous thieving borough we need united and strong communities”..Election statement of Labour candudate Shefali Begum, Rochdale Online.