Leisure and pleasure have always been Scylla and Charybdis for politicians. Vacation on a yacht called Monkey Business, borrow a Caribbean pile from a billionaire, spend time with Cliff Richard, and you’re tabloid toast. Not this lot. The Cameron and Clegg sets have steered through the whirlpools without hitting the rocks. David Cameron, the 19th Prime Minister to have been to Eton, and his Westminster-educated deputy, Nick Clegg, are wealthy, healthy, educated and entitled.
Two years ago, I put together a proposal for a book about the coming sea change in British politics. It was going to document the resurgence of a political clique that, until recently, had been written off as a busted flush. How had David Cameron, the grandson of a baronet and a member of the Bullingdon Club, managed to overcome the anti-toff prejudice that had put paid to Douglas Hurd’s leadership bid 18 years earlier? The idea was for publication to coincide with the Conservatives thunderous election victory of 2010.
My wife, a keen gardener, has a cold-frame forcing pen. It contains privileged seedlings which, thus sheltered, are hardened off before planting. These are the star blooms of seasons to come.In Britain’s New Establishment we call such specimens ‘ministerial special advisers’. They are placed in the Whitehall cold-frame and given special treatment. Within a few years these ‘spads’ become vigorous bushes.
It isn’t spending cutsThose arguing against spending cuts have recently adopted a one-word argument: Ireland. The case it stands for is as simple as it is bogus. Ireland had a deficit, now even worse than Britain’s. It adopted an agenda of sharp public spending cuts, on the same logic used by the British government. The result? A double-dip recession and a fresh round of misery. The lesson from Ireland is that cuts don’t work — and that George Osborne is leading Britain into the swamp.
As a hardened opponent of military interventionism and international war crimes tribunals, I find I am often floored when Rwanda is invoked. ‘How can you possibly advocate standing idly by when hundreds of thousands of people are being massacred?’ is a difficult question to answer. The events in Rwanda in 1994 have become the supreme moral reference point for interventionists, long after other similar causes célèbres have vanished from memory, because to contemplate the scale and method of killing there is to stare into the very heart of darkness.
David Cameron’s Conservative party has several uniquely destructive traits. But perhaps foremost is that it believes the lies of its enemies. And even when it doesn’t, it panders to them.A perfect example arose three years ago when the shadow minister of homeland security, Patrick Mercer, gave a newspaper interview in which he mentioned the fact that he had heard racist comments while he was in the army.
Who knows who in the world of Westminster
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