As we headed down to the allotments this morning we were somewhat taken aback to see the main road criss-crossed with bunting. One of the geezers operating the hoist said that he wasn’t sure why they were doing this but suspected that it was in readiness for the passing of the Olympic Torch, coupled with the Jubilee weekend. And no he couldn’t explain why the various faulty bulbs are never replaced in the very lamp-standards now being so lovingly attired.
I have to admit that the overt wave of enthusiasm building around both events has us rather bemused. Anyone who loves sport is looking forward to the Games, certainly the althletics part of them, but the endless reports of the progress of the torch are beginning to wear thin. The constant prattle about the ‘mother torch’ from which the currently in-use torch is lit all sounds like an extract from Enid Blyton, and the unending interviews with torch-bearers each telling us that this is the most exciting moment of their lives leaves us wondering if they work in Tesco. But who are we to deny the nation its thrills? Who needs sex, fags or booze if they can stare at a torch soon to be sold on e-bay?
To we codgers the greater mystery is the enormous popularity of an unelected monarch. Right now the Queen has an approval rating of +78. Compare this with Messrs Cameron, Miliband and Clegg who have minus ratings of -11, -12 and -27 respectively. You may respond by suggesting that this is inevitable given that politicians have to take unpopular decisions. But you would be wrong. Approval ratings go back a long way and a little research will show that in 1946 King George VI achieved only +3 per cent whilst Clement Attlee was streets ahead.
You might be tempted by the theory that the present government is widely perceived as one of rich boys concerned only for the rich. But that hardly explains the near adoration of what in reality is the hereditary privilege of a family of unearned wealth, the very bastion of highnesses whose whole demeaner spells out the lowness of every other fellow human being. You might be tempted by the age factor, the Queen is now a long-serving elderly lady. But the tendency in Britain is to regard the elderly with disdain.
Of course there is an element of the soap-opera syndrome at work here. We Brits love soaps and the chance they provide to liven our lives by focussing on the doings of others. But the main factor is surely that endemic to the human condition is the need to look up to a point of leadership and, in the absence of a Churchill or Attlee, the Royals are the only show in town. And however one feels about a monarchy in a democracy, it is what they prevent that endears them to many. The sight of the ghastly Blair at yesterday’s Leveson Inquiry reminded us that he would have been our President.
Bronzed and at ease, for a hour or so he lived out his fantasy. Yes he was a godfather to one of the Murdochs, but no he was never so close to them as to be guilty of bias. No, he didn’t allow his newly invented ‘spin-doctors’ to bully anyone or to tell anything but the truth. No, he didn’t lie over Iraq. No, he isn’t amassing a fortune based on his prime ministerial role. Look, he said, I’m a pretty straight sort of guy. The man attracted odium from a zillion actions, still be sees himself as an earthly example of God.
Yes it was really the corruption and unending falsehoods of the Blair regime that started the colossal collapse in the public confidence in politicians. And yesterday, as on every other day, we had yet more evidence that his successors are, if anything, even worse. Osborne announced U-turns on the budget he presented just weeks ago and attempted to claim that he had always intended them. Baroness Warsi, Cameron’s chosen conduit to working-class communities, proved to have feet of clay. Yet more evidence emerged of the part played by Cameron and Hunt in a conspiracy to wave through the Murdoch bid for media supremacy. The teachers and nurses, hardly revolutionaries by nature, spoke angrily of lies and hidden agendas. Even Nick Clegg felt obliged to talk of an elitist, wealthy and broken establishment.
Things have now reached the stage where even if politicians tell the truth they are not believed. It is difficult to see how the situation will do other than continue to deteriorate, all trust has gone.
And therein, I would contend, lies the explanation for the enormous surge in support for the Monarchy. Yes we see privilege there, but we also see honesty. And we all need someone to look up to!
THOUGHT FOR TODAY;
“Find the narrow gate that leads to life. it is called the NOW. Narrow your life down to this moment. Your life situation may be full of problems – most life situations are – but find out if you have any problems at this single moment. Not tomorrow or in ten minutes, but now. Do you have a problem now? Be where you are. Move deeply into the NOW”….Eckhart Tolle