Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Drug-Fuelled Myopia of the Conservative Party, pt 56

It is not my habit to intrude on private grief, but the suicidal instincts of the Conservative Party would give pause to a depressed lemming on the clifftops of Beachy Head. It is already hard to recall, but there was a moment, not more than a fortnight ago, when it seemed as if that once great institution - now a fraying coalition of estate agents, pro-celebrity golfers and blunted colonels - had come to its senses. In Mr David Cameron, a young man with the complexion of a well-skelped orphan, it had produced a leadership candidate with the credentials to do well in British politics.
This does not mean that he had anything interesting to say on matters of policy. Indeed, as the wily Fettesian Mr Blair has demonstrated, insight into policy is almost irrelevant to the modern politician: more important is the ability to exude empathy, to ham it up in moments of national crisis, and to - forgive me, Dr Freud - "feel the pain" of the electorate. As has been noted in biographies of the Prime Minister, Mr Blair is a failed thespian. (Personally, I would hesitate to cast him in a production of The Mousetrap, for fear that he would feel the need to inform the audience that the murder was actually "collateral damage", and was executed in the interests of national security.) But the fact that he always looks as if he is acting, especially when he is trying to evince sincerity, seems to strike a chord with the electorate, possibly because the voters acquire their emotional intelligence from unending exposure to the dramatic grime of soap operas and the choreographed unreality of reality television, in which the vain and the desperate are allowed to become famous by being ill-mannered and unremarkable in everything except their banality.
So, while it is true that the views of Mr Cameron on everything except his own ambition remained opaque, he was, at least, personable. In this regard he had an advantage over Mr David Davis, who has the look of a man who would sneak into your hotel room to borrow the trouser press. Mr Kenneth Clarke, on the other hand, is the (ample) embodiment of a man who has supped too long in The Last Chance Saloon.
I have never, praise the Lord, had the misfortune to be in close proximity to Mr Clarke, but his appearance brings to mind a Public Information Film from the 1970s, in which those bell-bottomed buffoons, the Bay City Rollers, employed their glottal-stops to inform their pubescent followers that intimacy with a cigarette smoker was - I quote from memory - "like kissing an ashtray". If Mr Clarke were to become leader, there is, I think, a strong possibility that he would be banned under forthcoming legislation to outlaw passive smoking. By a rough calculation, inhaling the aura of his fabled Barbour jacket would be the equivalent of ingesting 20 Lambert and Butler. Mr Clarke could, therefore, look forward to being the first Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition to conduct his business from a huddled doorway on the pavements of Whitehall.
Does it matter that Mr Cameron has been turned from a politician with a future to a deer in the headlamps by the question of whether, in the past, he experimented with drugs other than Junior Aspro? Certainly it does. By evading the question, he has kept it alive, and the forward motion of the Tories has stalled in the mud of innuendo. But what if he had answered? Perhaps if he had "confessed", in the manner of the late Ms Mo Mowlam, to some youthful indiscretions, the matter could have been laid to rest. The fact that he didn't leads one to suppose that the closet houses livelier skeletons.
On the other hand, Mr Cameron could have behaved as Tories are expected to, and denied - as the fan club of the bloated balladeer, Mr Elvis Presley used to - any illegal drug use of any kind. Would that have worked? Probably not. The drug question has become the Baby Boom equivalent of "and when did you stop beating your wife?"


Anonymous said...

good to have ye back, Kirk

Anonymous said...

dear mr elder, i am just settling down in front of my computer with two heckly biscuits (one extra in celebration of your return) and a cup of tea to read your blog. welcome back sir.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

*Or do we all KNOW, that was meant to say.

I swear I did < i>know< /i>, without the spaces. *grumbles* give me a break. I speak VB.

Anonymous said...

Years ago, when Britons were a sane people, all pharmacies stocked cocaine and it was available to any purchaser.As everyone knows, Sherlock Holmes's 'seven per cent solution' referred not to the illustrious detective's case clear-up rate, but to the tincture of cocaine which he took intravenously when he had no absorbing problem to occupy his mind. What happened was that activist 'unco guid' Christians started yapping about cocaine. They are always yapping about something in a disgruntled effort to regain the power and pleasure they experienced in the Great Age of Protestantism, when they could imprison sinners who danced, engaged in mummery, witnessed theatrical performances, celebrated Christmas or otherwise offended their strange God.