Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Hollywood For The Ugly

You may remember that last week the Great & Good were deeply concerned about political disengagement amongst the ordinaries. Baroness Helena Kennedy QC had chaired an inquiry into how why people were so cynical about the political classes. Staggeringly enough, the answer wasn’t that we’re governed by people who think that the best person to investigate the views of Joe Public is a media luvvey barrister and member of the House of Lords. Nope – apparently, what Britain needs is more Liberalism.

Call it a wild shot in the dark, but I’m thinking that recent events may shed more light on political disengagement than the dribblings of a bunch of Metropolitan Liberals you wouldn’t trust to make a cheese sandwich. Consider the reception given to Tessa Jowell in the House of Commons:

It was noticeable that there were more MPs actually sitting in the chamber for
this session than would normally be expected, particularly on a Monday when many
are still returning from their constituencies.
Were they there to gloat,
engage in a bit of car-crash-style rubber necking, or to support Ms Jowell?
There may have been a bit of the first two, but from a large number of those
on the Labour benches it was certainly a show of support for the beleaguered
Earlier in the day she had again been offered the prime minister's
support, and, as he answered the first question of the session, sports minister
Dick Caborn also offered praise for his boss' work. …
And Ms Jowell received
more vocal support from a number of her own backbenchers.

Hello ? Let’s just take the stuff Jowell’s admits: she approved a series of murky dealings, failed to declare interests and generally showed the alertness and intelligence of a table lamp. And for this she gets a hero’s welcome from the Left ?

At the risk of stating the obvious, Tessa Jowell isn’t in trouble because she bent the rules for a noble cause or took a stand on principle. The overwhelming characteristic of both her actions and her defence of them is sheer sleaziness. Maybe that isn’t a sacking offence, but it’s hardly something that should be celebrated. Her reception in the House was another classic Nu Labour Animal Farm moment.

Maybe I’m too idealistic, maybe this support for a sleazy incompetent is just party politics. OK, so what about the Yin to that Yang ? Where are the Tories ? Ah yes:

[Tory spokesman Hugo Swire] suggested that, in her difficult time, the
minister must ensure it did not get in the way of the proper running of her

This might just signal a hardening of the line from the Tories who have
been careful not to weigh into this controversy just yet, preferring to watch as
the row unfolds through the media and elsewhere.

This is their new harder line ? A government minister has been accused of being involved in large-scale corruption and they’re hoping it doesn’t distract her from business ? And the Tories can’t even hold that line:

Tory MP Mark Lancaster also expressed his genuine pleasure that she was in her
place for question time.

Yes, opposition for opposition’s sake is stupid, but this insane. Plausible allegations of money laundering have been made and instead of holding the government to account, the Tories are going through the motions. Sure, they’d like to be in government one day: better offices, chauffer-driven cars, etc, but not to the extent of derailing the gravy train. C’mon! Have a sense of priorities here...

This is what’s really wrong with British politics. It’s not just Tessa Jowell that’s been exposed as sleazy, it’s the rest of them as well. Ask one of the Labour MPs who cheered Jowell, what they were actually cheering. Was it the lies ? The tactical separation ? The self-confessed incompetence ? Or was it simply an exercise in crude, boorish arrogance, a demonstration of utter contempt for any of the rules of normal behaviour ? Certainly, the Tories won’t object. No doubt, Her Majesty’s Opposition might stick their oar in future in if there is some overwhelming political advantage to be gained, but that’s kind of the point. Forget any other factors, Jowell's behaviour, in and of itself, is an outrage, irrespective of any wider political calculations.

The old joke has become true, Westminster really is Hollywood for the ugly. Just like Hollyweird, the place is a cesspit full of elitist morons completely divorced from real-life and unmoored from any sense of morality. That’s the answer right there. The public hasn’t become disengaged from politicians, politicians have become disengaged from the public. Why should any decent person give these sleazy low-lifes the time of day ?

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