Just in

Back in harness!

The rumours that I had become exhausted or ‘politicked out’ by the General Election on 7th May were correct. There is only so much political process that any one person – well, this one – can take and, naturally, we had a surfeit of it leading up to polling day. I like to think that I was no different to the majority of the UK population in this respect. However, of course, it is a fact of life that that politicians, and indeed everyone involved in their world (including aspiring future politicians) are unlike the rest of us. They think – or don’t think – eat, breathe, plan and intrigue angles of politics every day of their lives, if not every hour. Politics is an all-consuming passion for those interested in it. The rest of us are just trying to get on with our lives.

Thus I had a deliberate two-month break from Westminster, Holyrood, the EU and the newspaper front pages – well, insofar as they covered the UK political scene. My family and I spent a month in Australia visiting relatives and friends amidst the sight-seeing. I had not been there for forty-five years since, having just left school, I set off on a six-months long Down Under adventure with a mate – i.e. what these days people would call a gap year. I’d probably be able to extemporise on the theme of how different Australia is today from how it was back then, but for the fact that, to all intents and purposes, I am unable to recall anything about my original visit (save that I went on it).

My intention had been to wait until September to resume my occasional blatherings on this esteemed website but sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men get overtaken by events, as Harold Macmillan once memorably pointed out.

There is plenty going on.

SNPPersonally, I welcome the arrival of the 56 SNP MPs in the House of Commons. As a committed hater of the Scots – but not the country, I hasten to add – I remain of the view that nothing will hasten the oh-so-welcome removal of the Scottish cancer from the United Kingdom than the spectacle of them making a nuisance of themselves and fouling up the national political process by banging on ad nauseam from the narrow Scottish perspective on national events.

The rest of the country – most particularly the English people – will soon become terminally fed up and agree with my theme that we’d all be better off without them. Let them go off and try to implement their fantastical but totally unreal, tartan-clad, Stalin-socialist state, with its pick-and-mix choice of wonderful welfare for all (but of course somebody else picking up the bill). Afterwards, as they descend the slippery but inevitable financial mega-slide to bankruptcy and banana-republic status, the rest of us can watch from our first class dining room on board HMS United Kingdom and gloat.

Perfect!

On the subject of the forthcoming UK referendum on EU membership, which we learned recently may be brought forward by twelve months to 2016, it seems to me that – despite what the politicians intend – the public is never going to be fooled. One can hear the cynicism in the voices of political reporters as they quiz government ministers on the topic.

cameronDavid Cameron’s ruse of attempting a Neville Chamberlain and ‘renegotiating’ the UK’s relationship with the EU was rumbled by everyone before it even began, not least because (1) he set off having no idea what aspects of the relationship he wanted changed – his dilemma being that they had to be ones he was confident the other 27 members of the EU would agree to in any event; and (2) whatever they end up being, we all know that – irrespective of whether any of them get discussed with, let alone agreed by, the rest of EU – he’s going to come back claiming that he’s been successful in his quest and therefore can recommend that we stay in.

The battle lines on our membership of the EU were set in stone years ago. Never mind the political issues – the ‘war’ will boil down to a contest between those who want Britain to rule itself, at whatever cost to the national interest, and those who are convinced that they know we’d be better off inside the EU and therefore have to try and find a means (of what nature doesn’t matter) to persuade the Great Unwashed of this. [No doubt most of them secretly hold the view – they daren’t admit this in public, of course – that the issue is simple too important to allow the UK public to ‘take the wrong decision’ on it].

Cameron seems to have had an injection of monkey glands since the Tories unexpectedly won the Election outright. Much is being made of the fact that the Tories can get on with taking the country forward without the millstone of being hampered at every turn by ‘Captain Calamity’ Clegg and his Lib-Dems.

(It’s funny and enjoyable, isn’t it, how little we’ve heard of the Lib-Dems, the Greens, UKIP and Plaid Cymru since May – given that during the Election campaign, thanks to broadcasting ‘impartiality’ rules and the structure of the TV Leadership Debates – on a daily basis we were practically being force-fed their sometimes daft but always irrelevant views).

sewelLike many Rust readers, no doubt, I have thoroughly enjoyed the recent Lord Sewel scandal involving cocaine and sex with prostitutes at the Dolphin Square block of flats in Pimlico, which my family knew quite well in my youth because my grandmother was a resident there in the 1960s and 1970s.

Anyone who wrote a fictional movie or TV drama script in which a British peer, effectively responsible for developing and then applying a new House of Lords ‘code of personal conduct’, was caught in a similar situation could be 95% certain of having his product rejected on simple ‘implausibility’ grounds.

The one irony of the situation, as I see it, lies in Lord Sewel’s reported comments (as recorded in the video featured in The Sun newspaper in recent days) on a number of political figures, e.g. “the most facile, superficial prime minister there’s ever been [on David Cameron]; that Britain went to war with Iraq “because he’d fallen in love with George Bush” [of Tony Blair]; “would be regarded in Bolton, Preston and Manchester as an arsehole … a public school upper class twit” [of Boris Johnson]; “obsessed with money” [of Cherie Blair]; “a silly, pompous prat” [of Alex Salmond]; “useless … a complete idiot” [of Jeremy Corbyn]; “okay, but not strong” [of Yvette Cooper]; “a Blair supporter who is just too naïve” [of Liz Kendall]; and “goes whichever way the wind is blowing” [of Andy Burnham].

I don’t know about you, but Lord Sewel seems just about on the money from my perspective. In fact, in terms of his judgement of political character, he seems to me to be something of a reliable oracle. And anyway, who cares about a bit of recreational debauchery in someone’s private life when he’s off duty?

Give that man a daily political chat show on BBC2, I say!

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