Thursday, 11 April 2013
Too much politicians.
Note that the title reads too much politicians. You can't in my view have too much politics, if by that we mean discussion of ideologies and polices rather than who is up and who is down which regrettably often passes for politics these days.
On BBC2's "Newsnight" programme last night it was pointed out that, when Winston Churchill died, there were just four speeches in the House of Commons: one by each of the three party leaders, and the other, I think, but the longest serving MP.
Yesterday both Houses of Parliament met, at our expense, since MPs are still enjoying their Easter holidays, so if they had to travel to Westminster they would have done so using their "free at the point of use" First Class railway privileges. Members of the House of Lord have to pay up front, but are then able to claim back. (They may also have claimed their £300 per day attendance allowance: it truly is a different world.)
And to what purpose, other than to indulge in navel gazing and posturing about Margaret Thatcher which may interest them but I suspect is now a mater (sic?) of indifference to the bulk of the public?
The press is no better. Today's Guardian, four days after her death, has 11 "news" pages, two comment pages and their first leader devoted to Mrs Thatcher. This morning's BBC news told us of yet further details which have "emerged" about her funeral and, for the umpteenth time, that the Queen and Duke of Edunburgh would be attending (a mistake, in my view, on the part of the Windsors). The only new informatiaon was that the President of Argentina won't be invited, but we might have guessed that.
So far this week I have attended two events involving lots of others. The first was on Monday evening, when our choral society meets for rehearsals. As a political anorak, and since this was the day of her death, I expected a buzz of conversation and comment on the topic. Not a word.
The second was on Tuesday for our monthly lunch for superannuated former Scout leaders. Here I must confess it was mentioned once, towards the end, when the son of one of we superannuated asked the older man on his right if he was "going to the funeral." The poor man looked surprised, obviously thinking that yet another of our number had "gone home" * but, when it was pointed out that it was a reference, presumably a joke, to events in London, dismissed the idea indignantly.
The whole thing has got vastly out of proportion. Clearly our politicians and press really do live in a bubble of their own, far removed from the everyday interests and concerns that occupy the overwhelming majority of us.
Margaret Thatcher was a lucky politician. Today's leading Tories probably thank her for this final stroke of luck by which her demise pushes news and comment on the draconian reductions in help to the least privileged in our society from the front pages.
* "I have gone home" is the Scouts' euphemism for death, and arises from the tracking sign of a circle with a dot or stone in the middle which signals the end of the trail.
Other such euphemisms are "to be gathered" which I believe is Scottish and which I picked up from Ludovik Kennedy's (an enthusiastic Liberal) book on euthanasia, and, my favourite, the Salvation Army's "Promoted to Glory."
A friend of mine who was an Anglican priest insisted on having on his funeral service sheet a cartoon of a postman and the caption "Return to sender."