I guess we all conspire to contribute to the things we like to protest about. With the General Election just over four months away, the politicians have been hitting the airwaves. The broadcasters have been only too willingly to give them airtime because this is the one medium-term story that is gone to run and run. Meanwhile the public, perhaps still befuddled by its collective alcoholic festive period hangover, seems resolutely indifferent to the suddenly full-on campaigning and mud-slinging. Finally, more recently, the renta-quote pundits and commentators, suddenly spoilt for choice of guest interviewees all peddling something or another, have unsurprisingly already begun covering the inevitable ‘news’ story that everyone involved – including the media pack itself – is already bored to distraction with the thought that this is how things are going to be right up to 8th May.
At noon yesterday I tuned in to watch BBC2’s Politics Show, hosted by Jo Coburn, for which the main guest was Iain Dale, former Tory candidate and political blogger perhaps most-well known for the originally-titled Iain Dale’s Diary, apparently (according to Wikipedia) Britain’s most-widely read political blog. For me, he was a relatively refreshing contributor on a range of subjects – avuncular, modest, passably non-partisan, in command of his facts and always perceptive. Inevitably, most of the programme was taken up by petty political point-scoring and/or people in the studio complaining about the amount of petty political point-scoring.
The stories of the moment were the parties’ ‘main subjects of choice’, i.e. those they felt they were strongest upon – in other words, the economy (the Tories) and the NHS (Labour).
The day before George Osborne had done his best to identify a £27 billion black hole in Labour’s spending commitments, only to be rebutted robustly later that afternoon [to what degree of success I know not] by Ed Balls and Labour’s finance team. In the other corner, Labour was wasting no time in detailing the NHS hospitals around the country currently queuing up to declare ‘states of emergency’ because of pressure upon their A & E departments – the blame for which was (obviously) the Government’s. Meanwhile, whatever the Tories were planning to do in terms of additional NHS funding, Labour were going to do £2.5 billion more.
Elsewhere Nick Clegg had somehow fought his way onto the airwaves to urge voters to pick the Lib-Dems – the only ‘sensible’ party – which, after the Election, could be trusted to prevent either the Tories from taking us back to the 18th Century and enforced squalor for all but them and their banker cronies … or the Labour Party from returning the country straight back to rack and ruin, three day weeks, month-long strikes, rubbish left building up in our streets and top-down-imposed state socialism. At least Clegg’s pitch had the benefit of making me laugh – at least, I think it was laugh – out loud.
What with the row surrounding the cocked-up organising of the inquiry into child abuse by the Establishment, Prince Andrew’s current (alleged) ‘bimbo eruption’ problems and the news today, criticised by Douglas Hird, that the Chilcot Inquiry’s findings will now almost certainly not be published until after the General Election, it is very difficult to escape the impression that the British Establishment (monarchy, political, Whitehall, generally the-powers-that-be) has lost very little of its carefully-honed and all-pervading ability to hush up potentially ‘unfortunate’ – viz. now embarrassing – incidents, policies and fiascos over the past 75 years.
Finally, as I wind up my latest review of British political goings-on, here’s a link to an article on the Prime Minister by Rafael Behr that is worth reading, as published today upon the website of THE GUARDIAN