Saturday, April 29, 2006

nice n sleazy

In January, Harry Hutton's post on the absurdity of marriage mused:
The reasons given for matrimony in the Prayer Book are:
1. The procreation of children.
2. A remedy agaynste sinne and to avoide fornication.
3. The mutual societie, helpe, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other.

Is that it? Are those still the reasons, or have they got some new ones? John Prescott, for example, is married; did he really have trouble avoiding fornication, looking like that? Is that what they're claiming?

Amazingly, the answer is yes.

Then again, maybe it's not so surprising. Politics is showbiz for the ugly. As they appear side by side on our tellies, the contrast between the surgically beautified celebs and the politicians is great, but really the latter are a bunch of plain frumps like, well, nearly everybody who isn't a celebrity obsessed with their appearance.

Jemima Lewis makes this point in the Independent.

Ugly man gets laid - that's the subliminal scandal behind the headlines; and not for the first time. When Robin Cook had his affair it was his ginger hair and gnome-like visage that caused most consternation. John Major's dalliance with Edwina Currie scandalised the nation chiefly because it seemed so unnatural: grey men who tuck their shirt into their underpants are supposed to be above (or do we really mean beneath) feelings of lust. And when David Blunkett - a blind man with a beard, of all things! - fell in love, the nation's hilarity knew no bounds...

They are, after all, just like the rest of us: snaggle-toothed, flat-footed, thick-waisted, baggy-eyed members of the human race. Do they deserve to be mocked for it, any more than we do?

The rest of us somehow manage to suspend our disbelief long enough to fall in love. We find beauty in unexpected places - a hawk-like nose, a wiggly eyebrow - and trust our lovers when they say the same of us. Life would be unbearably bleak if we couldn't transcend the lumpen reality of our bodies; look into someone else's eyes and see a sexpot reflected back.

It's one thing to condemn a man for adultery; quite another to ridicule him for his looks.

But there's something here that strikes me as more profoundly wrong. Rather like the way the American government only got the murderous Al Capone on tax charges, so it seems pathetic to be going after Prescott for shagging his secretary, or Charles Clarke for a departmental cock-up when he personally has pushed the government's authoritarian agenda so hard.

Like Prescott, Bill Clinton suffered for his sexual behaviour. As Eddie Izzard pointed out, if lying were to have a degree system like American murder charges, lying about your sex life would be 58th Degree Lying; everyone has done it at some time.

Whereas not everyone has committed crimes against humanity in Belgrade and Baghdad that, were the standards of the Nuremberg Trials to be imposed, would see them dangling from a rope.

If we're to depose the likes of Prescott and Clarke, it should be for the real damage they've personally done to the world.

The sexual tittle-tattle is a sideshow whose only real value is to complete the full set, to demonstrate that the Labour administration is awash with every colour of sleaze. Indeed, there's so much of it that some goes under our radar.

Whilst we've been concentrating about Charles Clarke's errors and thinking - or rather, shuddering and trying not to think - about John Prescott's cock, other indefensible tosh passed us by.

Sport Minister Richard Caborn has been defending the decision to - your incredulity meter's going to need a new fuse - dish out a grant of £30,000 to Manchester United to provide lunchtime fitness sessions for their staff.

Marina Hyde nailed it with eloquence:

"What it is," Caborn explained at the weekend, "is thinking out of the box a little bit."

If by "the box", Richard means the realms of human sanity and reason, then there is no disputing the fact that Sport England's decision - in which the minister claims to have been "fully involved" - is indeed as far from its lidded confines as is possible in this temporal dimension...

I can't help feeling that for all the Byzantine iniquities of the cash-for-peerages row, it is the breathtakingly simple, batcrap craziness of this kind of argument that resonates most effectively with what New Labour is given to calling "the man on the street".

There are some decisions so obviously and immediately indefensible that for a government minister - a grown man, if you please! - to attempt to explain that the second richest sporting club in the world is an ideal candidate for a grant to aid staff fitness would seem palpable nonsense to the average eight-year-old football fan in this country, and a more serious affront to anyone older.

How should we respond to this growing mountain of outrageous abuse of power?

A LibDem candidate has defected to the Conservatives, saying they can, 'ensure the departure of our current presidential, autocratic and authoritarian government'.

Is his memory really so short? The Blair administration is like the last days of Major's government, and it's not a coincidence.

It's not 'Blair' or 'Labour'. It is entrenched power. It's 2006 Labour, it's 1995 Tories, it's the Orange Order in Northern Ireland, it's Labour councils in the South Wales Valleys. Anywhere that power becomes consolidated and feels permanent, those who wield it turn into Robert Mugabe.

Whilst I commend the thorough and excellent job done by the Blairwatch site, I'm wary of anything that seems to imply that a change of government offers a lasting solution.

Only a change from government can do that.


Anonymous said...

To what?

merrick said...

dv, a change to people not allowing others to wield vast power, a change to those entrusted to carry out tasks for the wider community to understand that the nature of their position is as someone who helps rather than a way of lording it over people.

Call me wildly optimisitc about humanity, but I think we're smart enough to run things ourselves, I think centralising power only ever corrupts and makes those who wield it work against their stated mission. Decentralising power - abolishing it where possible - can return humanity to a state where people are in a position to affect the things that directly affect them; conversely, people would not have the power to affect things that don't affect them.

I think we're bright enough to come up with systems far more equitable and just than centralised power for profit.

I have no clear manifesto for an exact shape of such a changed world, and I'd distrust anyone who did. If a system is going to be fair and inclusive to everyone, it has to be visioned and enacted by everyone rather than imposed.

I'm interested in helping people understand that possibility, starting to see the potential reality of their shaking off being downtrodden and disempowered, and the enlivening of hearts with high hopes.

Of course, those currently at the top of the pile are unlikely to move over without making a fuss. But then, that's what people though under Caucescu in Romania a week before he was deposed.

It's astonishing how deeply we accept the idea that these liars are in charge of us, rather than the other way around.

When the government outsources work to their mates companies at fargreater cost than if it were done in house, the public are not allowed to know the exact terms and figures involved; it's covered by 'commercial confidentiality'.

Except that the government is supposed to be acting on our behalf. It's like buying a house but your solicitor won't tell you how much you're about to spend.