Tuesday, 24 July 2007

A Flood of Bollocks

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There is, as my grandma used to say, "high ding-dong" over David Cameron's visit to Rwanda during a time of "disastrous" flooding in Southern England. (For readers outside of the UK, David Cameron is the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons and Conservative Party leader - the man who would be Prime Minister if the Tories win the next election.) I've just been listening to Jeremy Vine's show on BBC2 - the middle-class population of Britain's phone-in rant-a-thon - and the consensus is that Cameron is an almighty idiot, a weakling, has lost the next election already, and generally speaking the country is going to the dogs.

If ever evidence was needed that people in Britain have lost all sense of perspective, you just have to listen to the Jeremy Vine show on days with relatively "big" news stories like this ("big" in the sense that there's a lot to get sanctimonious and high-horsey about). The comments by listeners have uniformly managed to epitomise almost everything that I hate about the UK, and England in particular, being as they are ignorant, ill-thought out, prissy, moralising nonsense of the worst kind, but I can identify three distinct strands or themes:

1. David Cameron, it is said, is the Member of Parliament for Whitney and as such he should be in Whitney at a time of crisis to help sort things out rather than "gallavanting around" abroad. Why this should be isn't particularly clear: from what I can gather the fire service and the armed forces have the situation well in hand, and the flooding is hardly Hurricane Katrina (it's a level that would be considered laughable in most other countries) - but no, Cameron should be back home stealing ghastly photo opportunities and making cheap political points by pretending to help fill sandbags and showing how deeply compassionate he is, rather than trying to do something of value in a country benighted by genocide and famine which is hoping to join the Commonwealth and drag itself up out of the gutter. In other words, most people in Britain think it is more important for a leading politician to act in the name of cheap propaganda and superficial emoting rather than do real work to aid developing nations.

2. David Cameron is the latest in a long line of British politicians to, apparently, put the needs of poor people in foreign countries above those of the British public. The indignance in people's voices is strident: why do politicians show all this concern for the populations of Bangladesh and Rwanda and The Philippines and Iraq but not US!?!? The answer - that in fact people in this country are spoiled and pampered and wrapped in cotton wool, and really our politicians should be doing a hell of a lot more to help those in the developing world - sails right over their heads, like a cool breeze on a summer's day.

3. David Cameron is Leader of the Opposition and should therefore be "opposing" Gordon Brown - in other words he should come back to the UK and start criticising the government for all the mistakes it has allegedly made. He should be taking Gordon Brown to the cleaners and making him "answer to the British people about what has happened". Wherease the truth, as any sensible person can see, is that David Cameron well understands that floods are an act of God and there's nothing much the government could have done about it - so what's the use in criticising? He should in fact be being applauded for showing principle and restraining himself from making cheap points. But then again we're dealing with shrill idiots.

Anyway, the whole thing is just too depressing and silly for words. What's most stupid of all is how fickle everybody has been. Only a year or two ago Middle England was falling over itself to kiss the feet of King Cameron, and here he is making one error of judgement (in the sense that he critically misread the capacity of the English for disproportionate outrage) and people are already predicting he'll lose the next election. It just goes to show how much superficiality reigns in contemporary British politics.

5 comments:

zero_zero_one said...

Is Jeremy Vine part of the problem on his programme? I've not listened to his radio show but whenever I've seen him on TV before I've always thought that he was a reasonable sort...

I'm sure that there are people who are saying that David Cameron is in Rwanda for cynical/publicity reasons to: in that case is it "better" that he does his publicity in the UK or Rwanda?

Instead of politics and spin and media crap, don't you wish that we just had politicians who did something?

mattiecore said...

The U.S. isn't any better...

noisms said...

Well, contrary to popular belief, I think politicians actually do quite a lot. They pay more attention to spin, but that doesn't mean they don't do anything. Gordon Brown has launched a whole raft of new policy proposals, and the Tories have spent two years creating a two-million word report on the state of society - so they keep themselves busy.

As far as the US goes, you're probably right, but I think in general the Americans I've met at least have strong opinions about politics - however misinformed - whereas British people tend to make their political decisions based around a combination of righteous indignation and whingeing - David Cameron and the flooding being a case in point.

zero_zero_one said...

But do you think that politicians do what you would like them to do? Do you think they pay attention to the things that matter and try to act on them?

noisms said...

They don't always do what I'd like them to do, no, but then again I'm not the King of the Universe so I wouldn't expect them to.

Of course they pay attention to the things that matter. It's by doing that they get re-elected.