Wednesday, 25 March 2015

“Will the Prime Minister rule out abolishing tax for Old Etonians?” - and other electoral asininities

Four things have characterised almost every session of Prime Minister’s Questions since Ed Miliband became Labour leader in 2010:
- His performance has been embarrassingly inept
- He asks really dumb, easily avoidable questions
- He never has a backup plan when he gets an answer he doesn’t expect
- The BBC’s political correspondents will do their level best not to let on that Ed got his arse severely kicked yet again                               

I’ve tried not to complain about how stultifyingly boring and oddly irrelevant I’ve found this general election campaign so far. I suspect I’ve simply lived through too many of the damned things to take them seriously any longer, and Cameron’s fixed-term policy has taken away the only really interesting area of speculation, i.e. when it's going to take place. But the thing that’s really making me dread the next few weeks is the prospect of a steady stream of ludicrous Labour smear questions along the lines of today’s pathetic “Will the Prime Minister rule out raising VAT if he wins the election?” What are we – five year olds? And is this really the best Labour can manage? I'm beginning to wonder whether Miliband actually wants to win this election. Could it be that even he has started to realise just how awesomely useless he is, and how catastrophic he would be for the country?

Whatever, just so you (and I) can ignore this idiotic folderol for the next six weeks, here is the list of Labour smear questions to be delivered at weekly intervals in tones of mock-outrage between now and May 7th:

1. Will the Prime Minister rule out abolishing tax for anyone who’s been to Eton, Harrow, Westminster, St. Paul’s or Winchester, while doubling the basic rate for anyone who didn’t attend a private school?

2. Will the Prime Minister deny reports that he intends outsourcing the whole of the NHS to the American private health care company, Pay or Die in Agony Inc.?

3. Will the Prime Minister deny reports that he intends sending out death squads to murder anyone who pronounces “bath” with a short “a” or uses the word “innit”?

4. Will the Prime Minister deny reports that he and everybody he appoints to his new all-male cabinet will instantly form a paedophile ring with the object of preying on black and Asian orphans, laughing maniacally as they do so? (Actually, Newsnight may already have reported this as a fact.)

5. Will the Prime Minister deny reports that he intends appointing Jeremy Clarkson as Environment Minister?

6. Will the Prime Minister deny reports that he intends building an Israeli-style security barrier around  the Home Counties and the more salubrious parts of London, to be manned by snipers with orders to shoot anyone who looks common or left-wing or remotely like Chuka Umunna?

As for Cameron and his team, all they really have to do is ask one question relentlessly: “The last time you lot were in power, you screwed everything up – education, the NHS, defence, the police, the economy, immigration, Asian paedophile rape-gangs, you name it: why would anyone in their right mind who didn’t actually want Britain to become a poorer, weaker, unhappier, sicker, more dangerous country entertain for a single instant the thought of voting for you, you horrible, scummy, arrogant, ignorant, incompetent, conscienceless idiots?”

Sadly, between 30% and 35% of our fellow-citizens (those who can be bothered to vote) will do just that on May 7th – May God have mercy on their souls.


  1. Your mention of Clarkson raise an uneasy question. While I have not followed this pantomime very closely ( I have more important things to do, like organise my sock drawer and watch my seed potatoes chit on the windowsill) I am aware that he is now unemployed and I do hope it is too late form him to stand for election as an independent, perhaps the High Octane Turbo Party. The fear would be that he would surf home on a tidal wave of support from the expert politicos in the saloon bar of the Dog and Duck. It would rattle the now fragile cage of Monsieur Farage.

    1. I'm not an expert on agriculture, but are you sure you haven;t been watching your chit potatoes seed on the windowsill? It just sounds more likely.

      I'm not sure Monsieur Farage's cage is particularly fragile at the moment - although I suspect the threat of Alex Salmond running England might cause a few former Tories to return to the fold.

      Given Farage recently described himself as having "the body of a 70-year old" and might therefore choose to bail out at some point, I reckon Clarkson would make an excellent UKIP leader.

  2. Will the Prime Minister deny reports that he intends to stop building churches in the inner cities?

    1. Building churches in inner cities, where many people follow other faiths, is culturally insensitive, and should therefore be banned.

  3. Agriculture: the seed potatoes are indeed chitting on the windowsill.

    Farage: whenever I raise myself and peer over the thorny hedge that protects me from the outside world I seem to see members of the UKIP hierarchy pinned by the blaze of press photographers' flashguns as they try to explain their latest misdemeanours. I doubt Monsieur Farage feels that secure at the mo but I daresay all the party leaders are slightly uneasy and not just from the threat of an advancing, bellicose Salmond.

  4. In the 21 March edition of the Spectator Simon Heffer complains about the current quality of political biography and his statement "reading accounts of the New Labour years in particular is rather like touring an abattoir before the cleaners have been in" concurs entirely with your penultimate paragraph.
    Given the general nature of contemporary politicians [border-line clowns and financially dishonest charlatans] I was overcome by inanition as soon as the election campign started. Could the media make it all less painfull by:
    * Banning all appearances by Caroline Lucas, Chukka Umunna and Baroness Williams. All three induce attacks of narcolepsy which is dangerous in combination with inanition. Especially for elderly folk.
    * Banning the recent practice of shrieking out idiotic questions at puffed up little politicos as they sweep in and out of important looking places [" Will you be resigning to-day, minister?", "Are we going to war with Russia this afternoon?", "Will the Chilcot Report ever be published?", "What is it you can't face?" and the rest of the nonsense.] The shriekers are invariably female who sound like old Tim Henman supporters. Very disconcerting and redundant so why do it?
    * Banning linking the broadcast of some piece about alleged skull-duggery with the tired old statement "that nobody at the ministry, company etc was available for comment." This is a great R4 "Today" ploy and is always said with the incredulity that people can actually refuse a summons from the BBC and implies that the other party is as guilty as hell. Damned Swine. Then they wheel on Caroline Lucas instead. Or if they are really desperate, Toby Young.
    * Banning long articles micro-analyzing the strategies and backgrounds of various current politicians "who are going to make a difference" and read like the celebrity profiles by the ubiquitous Celia Haddon and Briony Gordon. Given their lack of substance very few modern politicians can sustain such an analysis [yes, Fraser Nelson and James Forsyth of the Spectator, we are talking about you and your endless witterings about some deeply uninteresting people.]

    1. It would probably be easier just to ban the BBC from carrying any form of political report or commentary for the duration of the campaign. This would include any documentaries on social issues and any contemporary "comedy" programme and all current affairs comedy panel shows - i.e. no Toksvig, Hislop O'Brian, Stephen Fry or that disgusting little wretch, Jeremy Hardy. They could fill the resulting gaps with - well, almost anything: when strikes have taken BBC News programmes off the air in the past, audience figures have invariably soared.

      Rachel Reeves (possibly the most boring human being in all of recorded history) and Michael Heseltine, who passed his sell-by date in 1997, need to be added to your list of guests banned in perpetuity. And, of course, Alex Salmond and that ghastly woman who has replaced him: they don't so much put one to sleep as trigger an automatic gag reflex (and I don't mean jokes).

      The journalists who were best as shouting stupid questions in my day were invariably the most awful tits one had to work with. Michael Crick was exceptionally good at it, I seem to remember. The only thing which would excuse this practice is if politicians being heckled EVER GAVE AN INTERESTING ANSWER. They have never done so. Not once.

      I wouldn't mind the "We asked x on the programme, but they declined the invitation" ploy if the BBC didn't regularly wimp out of providing spoksmen on those many occasions when the corporation has been caught with its trousers around its ankles (metaphorically and literally). If I were one of those people asked to appear, and didn't wasnt to, I'd say,"No, I won't appear on your programme because you're a bunch of communist CAUCs" and see whether you were subsequently quoted verbatim.

      I would go easy on political journalists. After all, how else would they fill all that space if they were to stop pretending that various unprincipled, conscienceless, spivvy, careerist nonentities were - despite all evidence to the contrary - in fact brilliant political strategists who could have taught Machiavelli a thing or two.

  5. Excellent! You have nailed one of the great secret pacts between politicians and political journalists - if you tell everyone how great I am, I'll give you a stream of gossip and other stuff, particularly stories that reflect badly on my colleagues. Even without using his wife for this purpose, The Chief Whip seems adept at this. The Spectator is a favoured vehicle. Interesting how little criticism there has been of his disastrous attempt to unseat the Speaker, which brings to mind Peter Cook's summing up of one of the defendants in the Thorpe trial: "A man incapable of carrying out a simple murder plot without cocking it up".

    1. What used to be particulalry infuriating was the way common or garden BBC political correspondents would return from the standard lobby briefing puffed up with a sense of their own self-importance at being "in the know", when all that had happened was that they and every other lobby correspondent had been fed the usual propaganda nonsense they were always fed. This is what passes for political "journalism" at Westminster. The unholy, mutually masturbatory alliance between journos and pols is underlined by how many journos go on to work for political parties - all very sordid and unhealthy.

      The attempt to get rid of Bercow - while perfectly understandable, given how revolting he is - was a shameful piece of silliness on the eve of a general election. The Tories don't deserve to win - but, then, neither do any of the other parties. I used to respect William Hague. Maybe one day we'll learn what went so wrong with him.

  6. On Thursday 9th April I strayed into Question Time on BBC1 . One of the guests was Caroline Lucas. On Friday 10th April she popped up on Any Questions on R4. Who is going to stop this strident, tedious harridan and her preferential treatment by our national broadcaster? She has nothing sensible to say. Two of the other guests on the latter programme were Paddy Pantsdown and Tony Benn's son. Again, who actually cares what they think? Where is Toby Young when you need him?

  7. This from the Wikipedia entry for the gorgeous, pouting Ms.Lucas:

    "She is noted for campaigning and writing on green economics, localisation, alternatives to globalisation, trade justice, animal welfare and food. In her time as a politician and activist, she has worked with numerous NGOs and think-tanks, including the RSPCA, CND and Oxfam."

    That might very well make sensible people like you and me want to retch, but it makes BBC producers feel all warm and cuddly inside. Also, the excellent Biased BBC blog is always pointing out how often that air-headed buffoon Diane Abbott appears on the BBC despite being one of the most stupid people in the country.

    As for Pantsdown, what makes it worse is that, having had to deal with him on a few occasions while working for the BBC in the '90s, I can report that he was a really unpleasant piece of work. I also notice that Michael Fucking Heseltine gets regularly wheeled out - as you say, who actually cares what the back-stabbing old Euro-tart thinks about anything????