Wednesday, January 28, 2004
We Should Sue!
Tony is innocent, after all. It's amazing to think there are actually things about which Blair has been honest. Sort of the stopped clock hypothesis really. Still, Blair being in the clear has thrown into sharp relief the utter collapse of a once great British institution.
This has been a truly terrible day for the Conservative Party. Even before publication of Hutton, Michael Howard's strategy was looking distinctly strange. Howard seemed to argue that, even though the Conservatives supported the war they had their fingers crossed (or something). Apart from the fact that this makes the Conservative Party sound really stupid, it makes no political sense. The anti-war groups were 90% made up of… well, people like Glenda Jackson. Howard can tattoo 'BUSH=HITLER' on his forehead but there ain't no way these loons are going to vote Conservative. Similarly, Peter Hitchens style Conservatives aren't going to vote Lib Dem under any circumstances.
Howard's position would only make political sense if there was any hope of finding proof that Blair had, in fact, carried out a huge deception to lure Britain into war with a middle eastern Shangri-La. If this were the case, it would now be game over but even pre-Hutton this was hardly likely. Leaving aside the fact the PM is slicker than a vaselined rattlesnake, not only did SIS genuinely believe that Saddam had WMD so did the US, the French, the Russians and most of Saddam's army. Yet, we were supposed to believe that Blair had taken part in a complex deception relating solely to a tangential issue (how quickly the WMD could be brought into action). The only suggestion more absurd than that is the idea that the Conservatives would have lined up with the Saddamites and the Hate America crowd, if only they hadn't been bamboozled by Tony's spin.
Howard's position was so blatantly opportunistic and cynical that it achieved the almost impossible: it made Blair look principled. All of which would've been bad enough yet Howard not only managed to make himself and his party look stupid, he threw away a once a generation chance to damage one of the key institutions of the Liberal establishment.
What was refreshing about Hutton's criticism of the BBC was not so much the content (old news in the blogsphere) but the source and setting in which it occurred. The Beeb has always maintained that the mere fact a person criticises the BBC proves he's too unenlightened to have a worthwhile opinion anyway. Well, here's a Law Lord slapping them senseless: what flavour of moron is Hutton, exactly ?
The BBC has long traded on its reputation for objectivity to allow it to slander Conservatives. Just when we were getting ready to enjoy the Beeb catching a full load of consequences, up pops Howard to stand shoulder to shoulder with the self-same people who are normally employed trying to convince the public that he eats babies. Absolutely brilliant.
Here is one of the biggest, yet least recognised, schisms in British politics: that between the Conservative Party and actual Conservatives. The Conservative Party is seemingly incapable of taking the long view about anything: everything is dominated by purely tactical and cynical calculations which themselves are thrown out by the Party's inability to comprehend the existance of intelligent life outside the Westminister Village. So, of course the Party chose to push the line that Blair is a conniving fraud (who did they think didn't know that ?). Thanks to the Conservative Party, Hutton looks like being next weeks chip paper yet it could all have been so different.
With the possible exception of the weather and 'The Sky At Night', a pervasive Liberal bias creeps into everything the BBC does. What percentage of their dramas feature sinister factory owners who put profit before the safety of their workers ? Is the BBC even capable of making a comedy series which doesn't rely on at least one stereotyped Conservative character to be the butt of jokes ? In fact, when's the last time the BBC featured a Conservative character (in any program) who wasn't there merely for the main (hipper, smarter, better looking) characters to react against ? The Conservative Party could have shredded for ever the BBC's reputation for objectivity and let the BBC be recognised for the snarling, partisan, activist's employment agency it undoubtedly is. This wouldn't necessarily mean privatising it, but that's where the logic would inevitably led once the public started to think of the BBC as a way to transfer public money to overgrown student politicos. But that would've taken actual vision, and there ain't none of that in the cesspit that is the modern Conservative Party.
By choosing to base their entire strategy on the political equivalent of arguing over angels and pinheads the Conservative Party emphasised how utterly bereft they are of any long-term strategy. We have one of the worst governments in our nation's history and all the Tories can do is the political equivalent of pulling faces and mooning. Can't they at least change the name of the party ? They're giving us real Conservatives a bad name.