Just in

Ah well …

As usual, at the risk of sounding like a stuck record and/or being accused of teaching my grandmother to suck eggs, I take some small satisfaction in noticing the machinations of the ‘game’ played by politicians the world over are showing themselves to be almost beyond parody at the moment.

I call in evidence today firstly, the media reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is currently reeling from a series of defeats to right wing opponents in regional elections, these apparently caused largely by an adverse reaction to her infamous ‘open door’ immigration policy – which now, of course, is in the process of being reversed as the EU as a whole struggles to deal with its migration crisis.

Democracy, of course, is a major inconvenience to your average politician/statesman who – in an ideal world – would infinitely prefer just to be left alone to get on with pursuing the policies they believe are best, irrespective of minor considerations such as imminent elections and/or the popularity of their plans.

Secondly, the EU Referendum campaign continues to fascinate.

We’ve got the Queen being fingered as a Brexit supporter (to her consternation, whether or not the report of her views is correct), with both the Remain and Leave teams either up in arms or alternatively jubilant at this development.

We’ve also now got Tony Blair telling unemployed Brits not to blame migrants for their plight, but recommending they educate themselves more in the cause of gaining employment if indeed they want it, On top of that, President Obama is threatening to come to the UK and lecture us on how we’d all be better ‘In’ than ‘Out’ of the EU.

These two gentlemen are examples of the phenomenon that … irrespective of whether the views of senior politicians and statesmen are right or wrong … they have to be wary of actually going public with their views just in case this proves counter-productive.

I suspect that the powers-that-be at Number 10 and the ‘Remain’ campaign headquarters must slump over their desks, heads in their hands, every time they hear that either Mr Blair, or any overseas political figure or bureaucrat, is about to go public in support of the campaign to keep the UK in the EU.

Firstly, because there is nothing more calculated to cause the UK electorate to vote ‘Out’ than being lectured by an outsider that they would be mad not to vote to remain ‘In’; and secondly, because there are some former politicians whose stock is so toxic that, whatever the subject and their views, the average voter’s instinctive response upon hearing it is (inevitably, as a form of derisive ‘two fingers’ retort to all they stand for) is to do exactly the opposite of what they recommend.

And, when it comes to politicians whose brands are toxic there is none to match Tony Blair.

The other thought that occurred to me over the weekend is the extent to which the modern ‘cult of celebrity’ has become all-pervasive in Western culture.

What matters these days is not the principles or the strength of the respective arguments.

What really matters is which celebrities are supporting your cause. Thus we get actors Michael Sheen and Benedict Cumberbatch ‘hanging out’ with migrants in the ‘Jungle’ city outside Calais and/or appealing for funds on behalf of UNICEF in trying to feed starving refugee children.

The biggest story of the weekend – according to the current affairs programmes I watched – was that Jeremy Clarkson had come out in favour of ‘Remain’.

Presumably this is quite so important because Jeremy might bring the cool, hip, ‘petrol-head’ constituency with him to the righteous side of the argument.

And at the moment the ‘Remainers’ must be petrified that they are increasingly seen by the public as the sad, negative, boring, ‘Establishment’, status quo, unpatriotic ones.

Whereas the ‘Leavers’ are perceived as maverick, adventurous, independent, anti-Establishment and ‘protest against the lot of them’ friendly.

And we all know on which of those teams we’d all sneakingly prefer to be on …

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About Simon Campion-Brown

A former lecturer in politics at Keele University, Simon now lives in Oxfordshire. Married with two children, in 2007 he decided to monitor the Westminster village via newspaper and television and has never looked back. More Posts