Sunday, 28 April 2013

Jesse Norman, Jo Johnson and kamikaze Cameron

From the coverage of Dave the Dunderhead's elevation of Boris's more intelligent sibling to a position of policy advice you would be forgiven for thinking that some bizarre melding of every titanic intellect that has ever walked the earth has become part of the Tory pantheon.  Since the only sensible Tory exposition this week has been Ken Clarke's forensic analysis of the UKIP base in terms of both candidates and supporting, this is hardly surprising.

The Johnson clan is a prime example of what politics shouldn't be about.  Boris is a scheming, malevolent toad with immense media skills, portraying himself as a clowning everyman rather than the amoral operator positioning himself for a crack at the leadership.  Unfortunately he is fast running out of Ken Livingstone's initiatives to appropriate, which will be a clear cue for him to escape from City Hall in London before the faecal matter makes an impression on the air-conditioning.

His brother, now the MP for Orpington, may be a charming individual, but he is another example of the Old Etonian clique that will, please God, demonstrate quite how bizarrely irrelevant and inconsequential the Tories have become in the last decade - despite the corpse twitching occasionally.  If Cameron is playing any political game other than short-term survival, he is either a master of subterfuge or merely waiting for something to turn up.  Playing to the patrician gallery is the clear strategy - mainly because those of us who are lesser mortals won't be invited unless it's to service the self-defined elite.

Bizarrely, the Johnsonisation of the Tory wonkage has been trumped by the appointment of Jesse Norman MP.  I always get him confused with the opera singer, but in fact he is another one of the Floreat Bullshit brigade - an incoming Poujadist with a line in complete denial of reality.  His justification of his appointment is one of the most hilarious pieces of self-deception that I have enjoyed in recent years - viz his belief that in some way having been to Eton instils a sense of public service denied to those poor plebs who have not been born with a silver spoon in their mouth.  In his case, it would be hard to discern said spoon behind both feet, which he inserts into his orifice with aplomb.

I am sure that there are many Old Etonians for whom the notion of public service is key - but I am also sure that they are not the men who boast about it.  The current Tory definition of "public service" requires the insertion of the word "self" (and a hyphen) into the phrase, as the pillage being perpetuated upon public services and social cohesion is difficult to explain in any other context.  Public service is not about flaunting wealth and then exhorting the remainder of the population to emulate an avaricious bunch of gamblers.

Indeed, it is insulting to millions who have not had the advantages poured into them and who nevertheless strive to improve the lot of the human race.  Educational or financial background do not provide a clue as to the personal inclinations of individuals - but the difference between altruism and patronising preening is apparent to all bar the hardest of thinkers.  It is difficult to imagine anything as insulting as Norman's self-justification - Eton does not confer public service but privilege, which at best turns into paternalism and at worst is the canting hypocrisy of the self-styled entrepreneurial elite as it robs the majority to pay for its own failings.

Cameron's retreat into his social and economic fastness is an act of a leader whose contact with reality has now disappeared.  Instead of asking why the Tories are becoming hated by both the libertarian left and right, the non-London majority and even the knuckleheads of UKIP, he is elevating the archetypes of the Thatcherite Tories - those who condemn the nation to austerity while turning an approvingly myopic glance towards the corporate pillagers.  For Miliband, Clegg, and all those with the ability to pursue a cognitive course this is an opportunity.  Seldom has political suicide been played out in public slow-motion.

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