The Jacqui Smith case and the grotesque sight of her husband apologising for watching porn films at the taxpayer’s expense are just the latest symptoms of a well-advanced political disease, says Rod Liddle. They take the voters for a bunch of mugsAt last the politicians have done the decent thing and called in the police over an issue which has enraged and outraged the public these last six months or so: the leaking of MPs’ expenses details to the press.
Several weeks ago I was awakened by a phone call from a man who, speaking in a loud and excited voice, demanded to know the fine details of my personal life. Was I in a relationship with the Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff — and under what circumstances? Who had introduced us? Who had I seen in the past? Where did I work? How much was I paid? He was, I gathered before I hung up, a man with a website.
J.D. Salinger is in the kitchen when I turn the corner of his farmhouse, his reported deafness probably explaining why he doesn’t hear me until I am a few feet from him and ringing the doorbell. His wife correctly guesses the identity of the caller and, apprised of the information out of my hearing, the author shouts something that sounds like ‘Oh, no!’ It may be succinct but it is the most he has said to the media for years.
It’s dawning on me that the Prime Minister can’t listen to criticism.It’s dawning on me that the Prime Minister can’t listen to criticism. I don’t just mean that he can’t respond to criticism; I mean that he literally can’t listen to it. When he came to the European Parliament to drum up support for his spending plans, I made a three-minute speech in favour of balanced budgets. As I talked, he pulled his face into what I think was meant to be a disdainful smirk, then ostentatiously chatted to his officials, then pretended to doodle on a piece of paper.
There seems to have been a view developing in recent years that defines peace simply as the absence of war. If only we can avoid armed conflict, the argument seems to say, then we will live in a more peaceful world. But peace is not simply the absence of war. Real peace is accompanied by an unavoidable set of values. Freedom from tyranny, freedom from oppression and freedom from fear are essential for real peace, and unfortunately we sometimes have to fight and even to die to defend these freedoms.