Today we learned that David Cameron thinks that the correct response to legitimate criticisms about his government’s woeful handling of the NHS in England is to tell his critic that his mother would expect him to put on a proper suit and do up his tie. Because, obviously, criticisms are more valid when they issue from the mouth of a man dressed in a smart pinstripe suit and a perfectly knotted silk tie from Jermyn Street, whereas if the man happens to be wearing a jacket and some polyester neckwear from Oxfam then he’s not worth listening to. In that one off the four button cuff remark from the Eton educated PR boy to Jeremy Corbyn we learned all we need to know about the attitudes of Cameron and the Tories. It’s not about the content of things, it’s about the packaging. As long as it’s as shiny and glossy as Cameron’s face, it’s good and true. Yer maw would approve. Never mind the smell of decay, look at the shiny.
This is British politics nowadays, reduced to jibes about yer maw. Next week in PMQs David Cameron will be telling the Labour leader that his da is bigger than Jeremy’s da.
It might be true that wearing a nice suit helps you get taken seriously. The South African anti-apartheid campaigner Steve Biko, who was murdered by the apartheid regime, once said that if you want to say radical things, you should dress conservatively. But then Biko had style as well as content and the content was what came first because it’s the content which is important. Biko had important things to say and the style was a means to imparting it. Corbyn has content but no style, and he is proof that how a person dresses is no guide to the veracity or worth of what they say. But for PR man Cameron it’s all about appearance, there is no content in the vacuum of Davie’s politics. His definition of politics is a show for the talentless, with Davie’s ego as the star. Cameron is unfit to polish Jeremy Corbyn’s scuffed shoes.
For a very long time now PMQs has been an exercise in pointlessness. It was supposed, once upon a time, to be the means whereby the leader of the Opposition held the Prime Minister of the day to account by asking questions about government policy and obliging the Prime Minister to give detailed answers. In the British parliamentary system of elective dictatorships it was pretty much the only means of holding the government of the day to account. These days you can watch the Prime Minister, or indeed any government minister, being questioned in the House of Commons and your wait for something that’s an actual answer, as opposed to a deflecting retort, will be longer than the wait for Donald Trump to say something sensitive and thoughtful.
Our politicians could just swap the entire sorry process of questions to ministers which they have no intention of answering for swapping jokes about your minister, which would at least provide the rest of us with some amusement if not government accountability. It would also have the advantage of being considerably more mature and witty than the sub schoolyard crap that passes for a debate in the Commons.
Your minister’s so stupid that if he got locked in Asda he’d starve to death. Your minister is so stupid that he stares at a glass of orange juice for two hours because he was told it’s concentrate. Your minister is so stupid he sits on the telly and watches the sofa. Your minister is so nasty that the MoD uses his bath water as a chemical weapon. Your minister is so nasty he only gets clapped in a clinic. Your minister is so nasty he takes away the money from disabled people and lets them die. Oh wait, that one’s true. Your minister is so stupid that he steals bread from a food bank. Oh, that one is probably true. Your minister is so stupid that when playing Monopoly he gave away all the community chest to Google. Damn, that one’s true too.
Prime Minister’s Questions will continue to be a waste of time until the Speaker of the Commons actually insists that politicians answer the questions that they are asked. There’s no sign that’s about to happen. The Speaker is quite happy for the pantomime charade to continue because the Speaker is a part of it. He’s got his own fancy suit to wear after all, and as long as Westminster remains in thrall to fancy costumes and pseudo-mediaeval traditions invented by Victorians we’re going to continue to get questions and no answers and insults about what the leader of the Opposition is wearing. Westminster isn’t ever going to change, it’s not capable of reforming itself. The only thing that you can be certain that Westminster will take seriously is that it will fights tooth and nail against anything that threatens its absolute power. We saw that with the farce that passed for the Scotland Bill, and how Westminster treats Scottish devolution as a means to screw over the SNP and not as a response to the demand of the Scottish people for home rule. You don’t get home rule in the yo mama’s house of childish retorts.
Davie’s attitude to Jeremy Corbyn’s choice in neckwear is much the same as his attitude to Scotland. We’re expected to dress nicely in a smart kilt and a tartan tie, to sit down and shut up. We’re colourful Caledonian window dressing in the Great British pageant, passive onlookers as the British establishment exchanges bad jokes at our expense. Davie can wear his Savile Row suits, the rest of us are stuck in the toxic mess that he’s creating. We can put on our hazmat suits and sit down and cry, or we can get out of this excuse for a state and start afresh in a Scotland where content is more important than style, where what a person says is more important than what they wear when they say it. I vote for the latter.
BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE Barking Up the Right Tree has now been published and is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper. You can submit an advance order for the book on the Vagabond Voices website at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993
Price is just £7.95 for 156 pages of doggy goodness. Order today!
A limited number of signed copies of the two volumes of the Collected Yaps is also still available. See below for order details.
Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.
Order the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug Vols 1 & 2 for only £21.90 for both volumes. A limited number of signed copies is still available, so get your order in now! P&P will be extra, approximately £3 per single volume or £4 for both sent together. If you only want to order one volume, please specify which. Single volumes are available for £10.95 per copy.
To order please send an email with WEE GINGER BOOK ORDER in the subject field to firstname.lastname@example.org giving your name, postal address, and email address and which volumes (1, 2 or both) you wish to order. I will contact you with details of how to make payment. Payment can be made by Paypal, or by cheque or bank transfer.