We are fast approaching that time of year when - at some point and despite protests of “oh no, not again” by all present - I shall want to see the afternoon movie with either Kenneth Branagh or Larry Olivier hamming it up deliciously in one version or another of Henry V.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
Wow! That’s the man for me! Forget my normal cynicism and my love of Siegfried Sassoon and disillusionment with war as a means to anything. Where do I sign up?
To make sure we are ready for this we will probably have to endure a speech by Her Majesty delivered with her customary flowing rhetoric and the ringing tones that so inspire us to something akin to torpor. (At least my Mother no longer insists on our standing for the national anthem but she will look sadly in my direction shaking her head at my “lack of respect”, complaining – “I don’t know where we found you, you are really weird” - that’s the pride bit.)
Then, there will be no escaping a similar assault from our political masters – those that are and those that would be. That is where the sadness comes in. I was never entirely convinced by Francis Fukuyama's “The End of History” but I am pretty well converted to the view that we are fast approaching the end of politics – as least as we know it – as the internet brings a transparency and accessibility to those things that thrived previously in ‘the darkness’ prior to broadband.
I have this horrible feeling that electing a government is gradually coming down to competence. Damn Margaret Thatcher and her certainties and the effectiveness with which she transformed this country just when we had got used to aspiring to mediocrity! Because of ‘that woman’ our reality now seems to be that the political arguments that occupied Stalin, Mao, Roosevelt, Hirohito, Attlee, Churchill and Foot (Who he? Ed.) have been reduced to a single answer and one approach (words and music by Milton Freidman).
We no longer have real arguments about real politics anymore than we have real poverty. We now choose between a party that would spend 42% of GDP and one that believes that 38% of GDP is quite enough to tax and spend, thank you. With such a difference hardly amounting to any real difference at all, the argument becomes: who would provide best value from the proposed spending - and that ultimately reduces to which party would bring the most competence to government.
Worse, suppose in the search for believable competence all parties conclude that all we need is a Chairman and CEO of UK Plc (probably listed on the AIM market) backed by 300 lawyers, 600 procurement specialists and 2000 IT Project Managers (if, of course we have not outsourced all of it to the Philippines … where is a Rodney Bickerstaff when you need one?)
So, had dear Henry V had the benefit of modern government his speech might have been –
“Lets talk nicely to those people opposite
I have to say that were this particular gentlemen abed in England when that that rallying call rang out I, for one, would be likely to remain there! In those circumstances were you to light the beacons I would draw the curtains and roll over as did a fair proportion of the electorate the last several times.
Imagine, 500 hundred years later I, a Republican, am reduced to hurling abuse at the English King I most admire by someone whose family fortune comes from making wallpaper!
But, the joy is that the rest of France happily gets on with life, bilking the common agricultural programme, burning our lamb in transit, blocking the ports, stopping the work of air traffic controllers the moment someone says ‘holiday’ whilst smoking themselves, and us, to death in cafés.
You see! In half of the EU nobody takes anything about the rules too seriously! They say, “Yes, absolutely, we agree” - and then go on to do exactly what they were always going to do. But here whilst we refuse to take life itself seriously we do have this strange notion that agreements are meant to be honoured and that promises should be delivered and that is serious. Very bloody serious in the circumstances.
So, the question is, if I am right, how the heck are we going to elect a government on the basis of competence by choosing from a group of people who have spent years imbibing the ability to say nothing loudly and using as many words as they can? People who like to answer questions by recasting the question to something that they, either, want to answer or know the answer to?
Your Views > MattT@thecafe.gg
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