It was billed as potentially going to be the hottest day ever in Britain – and what’s wrong with that, bring on climate change if we’re going to get scorching summers, better vineyard produce and no need to go on any more package holidays to Mallorca, I say(!) – but as I watched the news packages last night I was a little confused as to whether it actually had been … and indeed as to whether today might not be even hotter.
Having prepared for Sahara desert conditions by having a bacon sandwich for breakfast and then an early trip to the supermarket in the cause of avoiding the worst of the anticipated hordes of day-trippers coming to the South Coast, I took heed of the counter-intuitive advice given by some doctor/health advisor on the BBC morning show and kept my French windows door shut.
Apparently, this keeps the outdoor blistering heat away and the inside of your gaff cooler.
I’d heard on the media that the coast was 8 or 9 degrees centigrade lower than in the capital and – although enjoying the sensation of the wind blowing through both strands of hair on my otherwise bald pate – by the time I was burning rubber on the A3 beyond Guildford on my way to the M25 I definitely sensed that weather forecaster had been correct regarding the temperature gauge.
As we got ever-closer to London the atmosphere in my cockpit became akin to that of sitting inside a fan oven set to 220 degrees C.
Which brings me to the subject of my post today.
Sitting inside in front of the television reading my morning newspapers, I followed the 24/7 news channels as they built up to, and then covered live, our new Premier’s first appearance at the dispatch box in the House of Commons.
It won’t surprise Rusters that what struck me forcibly for the umpteenth time was firstly, the inherent hypocrisy of our lords and masters’ relationship with democracy.
Having gained their ‘legitimacy’ certificate by winning Parliamentary seats, they then invoke the principle “I haven’t been elected to serve my electorate, I’ve been elected by them to try and implement whatever my conscience determines is my view of what is best for them on any topic”.
Or indeed, not – because, of course, if they should decide that what is best for their constituents is that which got them elected in the first place, then they can cite it as the reason for their position.
Either way, of course, they’ve got carte blanche to vote any way they wish on anything.
Variously, they wanted a General Election, a vote of no confidence against Boris Johnson as soon as possible, or even a Second Referendum – or any combo of those – just anything to stop it.
We even had Jo Swinson, the new leader of the Lib-Dems, and Caroline Lucas – either former leader of, or (is it?) still co-leader of the Green Party – openly stating that if they did ever manage to get a Second Referendum … and the result came in as “Leave” once again … they’d totally ignore the result and keep on campaigning for Remain.
In other words, never mind what the people want, we know what’s best for the country and that’s an end of the matter.
The second thing that hit me between the eyes was the overwhelming resentment towards, not to mention visceral hatred of, Boris Johnson – his ancestry, poshness, background, education, character, sense of entitlement and – while we talking about it – his historically stated views on anything and everything.
To summarise – and getting to the nub of it – they were objecting to the very fact he existed and had been elected to Parliament at all, never mind now held any position of power, still less that of Prime Minister.
It was as if they felt that ‘fitness for office’ [howsoever that might be defined and determined] was some sort of measurable yardstick against which any candidates for a UK Parliamentary seat ought to be checked before being allowed to stand.
My dear, dear silly people.
Don’t you realise that if such a yardstick was ever devised and then passed into law then (by a quick ‘rule of thumb reckoning’ on my part) I should estimate that a minimum 85% of those currently sitting House of Commons would fail the test?!?!
Put at its simplest, if you’re going to impose a condition that candidates standing as prospective Members of Parliament as a minimum must be possessed of unimpeachable integrity and honesty; a total absence of hypocrisy; the IQ to be able to understand the full details and complexities of any and every subject upon which they may be required to vote – still less perhaps one day take ministerial responsibility for; a significant amount of common sense; and a rigorous sense of patriotic duty that would prevent them doing, or voting for anything, other than what was best for the country [as opposed to short-term party political advantage] … then, as night follows day, we could turn the Houses of Parliament into a national museum and global tourist attraction and save ourselves about a trillion pounds’ worth of taxpayers’ money per annum.
Because [exaggerating here to make my point perhaps] we could move the seat of UK government to a private dining suite at the Savoy Hotel: I doubt that there’d be more than a dozen MPs who’d meet the qualifying standard.
To return to practicality as a final thought for today.
From some fifty years or more ago I recall a memorable school history lesson at which the master surprised my group of impressionable teenagers in discussing (I think it was) some industrial relations paper or proposed legislation – it may have been Barbara Castle’s In Place of Strife, though my memory isn’t good enough to be sure – being floated by the then Labour Government of Harold Wilson.
In the then climate of national strikes, chaos and virtual anarchy – union leaders meeting weekly at Number 10 for tea and biscuits with politicians in thrall to, and intimidated by, ‘the representatives of the workers’ – one of us, not me, talked of his despair at the sheer ineptitude of the Government.
Our master stopped us in our tracks by saying that there was one positive in the current crisis.
When the time comes for ‘the people’ to have to take tough medicine – of whatever nature – in the national interest, it was an advantage for Labour to be in power.
“How on earth so?” the cry went up.
Well, think about it, came his response. If a Tory Government ever tried to impose such measures, there’d probably be a revolution (“Elitist toffs dish out sewerage to the masses!” etc.).
But – the simple fact was – when it comes to the prospect of necessary restraint, retrenchment and/or hardship, it’s often better to have a Labour Government in power … because ‘the people’ will take from their own kind what they wouldn’t accept from ‘the enemy’.
I hold no brief for Boris Johnson or whatever it is he thinks he’s cooking up – and, as I tap this out, if you put me on the spot I’d hazard the guess that it’s going to be about 70:30 that he’ll end up as a complete disaster.
But at the moment – with all these people spewing hatred and bile towards him simply because of who he is and what he supposedly stands for – the ‘polarisation’ of the UK political scene seems so extreme that virtually nobody is even prepared to give him a chance.