Wordplay is a parlour game, but it leads to only to parlous shame in politics.
Ed Miliband is being so specific about there being no possibility of a Labour Coalition with the SNP, I’m almost tempted to believe that, finally, Mr Ed has discovered a principle hidden somewhere up his sleeve.
But no – of course, it’s just words again, isn’t it? Those words that are emitted from lips, after which we’re all invited to watch those lips: “Watch my lips…we will reduce immigration to the tens of thousands”; “Watch my lips….there will be no cover-up at Elm House”. “Watch my lips – and when they move, you know I’m lying”.
No better comic routine has been delivered in my lifetime than George Carlin’s Christmas address to the White House correspondents Lunch in 1999 (skip the first five minutes) in which he went through the the entire litany of weasels used by senior pols to suggest that they know WTF they’re doing, or – even worse – that this is a minor matter we need to draw a line under, leave behind, and allow me to continue my chosen career, without having to switch to a second one as football pundit on Radio Five Live, followed by a third one as an irregular game-show panellist on Jewellery online Channel 107.
The key dissembling word in Milibland’s “promise” here is “Coalition”. Nossir, he will not have any Salmonds or Sturgeons in His Government: there will be no Coalition. There will simply be a grubby backstairs deal via which the SNP gets to secede from the United Kingdom and vote for Labour in the Commons….thus becoming part of the Draghi Mob currently terrorising every citizen from Lisbon to Thessalonika. Hey – Labour also supports the Draghi Mob, if not UK secessionalism: look, one out of two is 50% right? Isn’t that what democracy is supposed to be about?
Being black, when Obama won in 2008 he had to promise big to US negroes, while at the same time trying to look as little like Jesse Jackson as possible to the Whites. That’s why he won: he said “Yes we can”, probably the alltime pointless political strapline.
For Tsipras to win Greece in 2015, he had to dump euroscepticism and hire a “respectable” and cool frontman in the shape of Yanis Varoufakis….while at the same time promising big to Syriza activists and natural voters as a glorified Left-Coalition Party.
Now, all of these approaches are dubbed “valid tactics” by the spinners, but they are nothing of the kind. They are cynical deceptions designed to win power, by dragging floating voters into your camp. Listen, when Schäuble pays you a guarded compliment by observing, “You have a tough job – I wish you luck in selling this deal to your Party”, then you know you have fallen to his level: for he too is about to go back and persuade his more swivel-eyed CDU tendency that the Greeks are trapped….whereas you Varoufakis must tell your electoral supporters that you aren’t free just yet – but fear not, one more heave and we will be.
It is all about lying.
Why have Cameron, Obama, Hollande, Rajoy, Merkel, and Australia’s Abbott achieved nothing of any importance, descending instead into a snake-infested pit of rationalisation, denial, silence, illegality, censorship and bromides? Because they had no real insight into what The People really need in the first place. To hell with ‘want’: if you just want to fulfill desire, do what I did for 30 years and be an adman. If such creates jobs, it is a far more honourable profession than satisfaction of the bigotry and base instincts in all of us: those things that have made Rupert Murdoch a success. The same lowest common denominator, in fact, that former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie gave us in the shape of Topless darts.
There are two ways to acquire power: pretend to be something you’re not; or be yourself and touch a positive nerve in the electorate. Choose the former route, and you will sooner rather than later be lost in a labyrinthine moral maze that leads nowhere. Have the confidence to be yourself, and – in the long run – you will triumph.
In that context, although I am not a man of the Left (or any other long-dead dimension) my greatest political hero remains Aneurin Bevan. When asked at the 1951 General Election what he felt the purpose of power to be, Nye said, “Boyo – the purpose of power is to give it back”.
If you give power back to the Citizenry, you can rightfully demand that with that comes a sense of personal, sexual, familial and community responsibility. It is a virtuous circle capable of being aided by education and role-model example. But when the education consists of robotic targets – and the role models desire dysfunctional fame and riches at any price – then no amount of juggling with words and oxymoronic theories is going to make a scintilla of difference to the decline in civilised values.
I remain a Benthamite, in that I desire the greatest contentment and enlightenment of the greater majority of citizens. Under my definition of citizenship, work hard for yourself and your community, and you stand an equal chance with all others of a life in the sun. That is to say, you might find a place in the sun: but if you have to buy a place in the sun, then something has gone wrong with the social system.
Something – indeed, almost everything – is very severely flawed in the US, UK, Russian, EU and Australian cultures. There exists a sense of unwarranted privilege and material power in all of them. As politicians have helped create these flaws through their own mediocrity and corruption, do not look to such nonentities to solve them. Look rather to change the reasons why people enter politics, while reducing to a minimum the temptation for them to ‘go native’.
This conclusion is closely related to the previous post linked below.
Earlier at The Slog: Vote for sheisters, and you will encourage yet more sheisters