20th November 2009
The London trip was not a great success and a fresh assessment is required if I am to stand for parliament. Cybil has a rather curious attitude to politics. She listens to what politicians say and assesses their worth and value accordingly. I remember, over dinner some time ago, she made the extraordinary statement “Why can’t we have a government with just the sensible people from all parties in it? Vince Cable, for example, he seems to be the only politician who (a) has actually grappled with economic and financial policies in real life – running a business and (b) seems to have a better grasp of things than the current Chancellor does. Why can’t we have him as Chancellor?” There was an embarrassed silence at the table. Jamie Cadogan-Browne… a grandee.. I suppose you would call him, had a coughing fit and I thought I was going to have to put my old Boy Scout first aid badge knowledge to use.
Question Time and the great Tory Law & Order hope
We watched Question Time together last night and a vivid illustration of this technique of assessing politicians on what they say, rather than on the basis of the party they represent, presented early on in the form of Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling.
“See, darling” Cybil said with an amused smile “Grayling… saying nothing of any value whatsoever… hot air and blether…. just like that other chap Ian Duncan-Smith …blah blah blah. All those years in television have reduced his thinking into simplistic impressionistic summaries suitable for a game show but hardly of value when it comes to serious debate. He’s being slaughtered and they are all laughing at him on Twitter.”
I have now discovered what Twitter is. Cybil, apparently, has been on it for months. She tells me that there are quite a lot of sensible people and bloggers using it including some MPs from Labour who are using it rather well. I must investigate this Twitter further and these blogger johnnies. I had wondered why she was spending so much time tapping away into the laptop of hers while doing a myriad of other things. A chap, of course, prefers to focus on one thing at a time. I shall ask Jack, my head keeper, if he knows anything about Twitter. He’s another one who is always tapping away into a laptop or his new iPhone.
I have to say that Cybil may have a point. Grayling didn’t do at all well last night on QT – not quite as bad as that chap Woollas for Labour, who must have lost thousands of votes every time he opened his mouth… but there we are. The problem the Tories have is that they did have a fairly useful Shadow Home Secretary in David Davis, the member for the constituency of Haltemprice, who resigned, stood against himself on a a matter of principle, and fired himself into political obscurity (albeit with a bit more style than that Parnell chap for Labour did when he resigned and then looked baffled when no-one noticed.)
CameronDirect needs a new Shadow Home Secretary but he won’t, of course, fire Grayling, Grayling won’t fall on his sword, so another chink in the slick corporate armour of CameronDirect is opening up for others to push sticks into before the election in 2010. I’m rather looking forward, I have to confess, to seeing what nonsense Grayling comes up with next in his vision of a Law & Ordered Society‘ after his surreal ideas for yobs the other day.
The big thing at the moment for the Tories is for elected Police Chiefs. James Forsyth, writing in The Spectator, states “It is crucial that the Tories do not back down under this pressure. Locally elected police commissioners would be transformative, they would ensure that the police concentrate on the crimes that most effect peoples’ quality of life. The current top down, target-ridden culture would be replaced by accountability to the public.” They say that the police are already politicised, that Ian Blair was a Labour police chief, but Boris blew the bloody doors off on that wheeze and now has the Met under control. I’m not so sure that elected police chiefs is a good idea. Quite apart from the idea of police chiefs lining up in a row with rosettes on – and what if a BNP Plod wanted to stand? What then? – what exactly do the Tories mean by ‘locally elected’ police chiefs? One commentator on The Spectator page drew the ravening hordes attention to an immediate practicality and flaw in the thinking.
A Mr Dennis Cooper writes ” Firstly my “local” police force is not “local”; it’s Thames Valley Police, covering three counties plus Milton Keynes. I question whether it would be possible to have a meaningful direct election of a Chief Constable for a force covering such a large and diverse geographical area.”
Of course, we could have lots of smaller police forces with even more plod wandering about with silver fruit salad on their hats, but that rather goes against modern ideas of connected policing and maximisation of resources. But who said that ideas had to be workable to be policy?
The Invisible Man (and Woman) of Europe
Dickie Suffolk rang to say that we had done rather well in Europe. “A rather dull man who can’t write decent poetry from Belgium is President and some Northern lass has been propelled from obscurity into the the Miliband role.” he roared down the telephone. Dickie is one of these people who hasn’t quite grasped how mobile phones work. If he is outside, he shouts louder, not realising that there is a microphone at the bottom of the device that works perfectly well outside and is, Jack tells me, designed for indoors and outside use. “At least we stuffed Blair” I didn’t have the strength to suggest to Dickie that ‘we’ had done absolutely nothing as ‘we’ are not yet in government. Dickie is one of these people who tells others that he only has a few slots in his brain left and he doesn’t care to fill too many of them up with complex impractical philosophical knowledge or debate. I did suggest to him that he might benefit from taking The Sun rather than wrestling each day with The Times. I recall that he looked at me almost gratefully for the suggestion. Good chap, Dickie…. to have for the weekend… but not destined, I fear, for any form of ministerial position. Nor did I point out that ‘our lot’ seem to have teamed up with sundry right wing nutters and SS sympathisers on the extreme right of Europe and that Angela Merkel and Sarkozy are not exactly in daily touch with Hague and CameronDirect. I also have a sinking feeling that if ‘our’ lot was in power, we would have a Brit in possibly the even more influential post of High Representative and I could almost hear Cybil in the recesses of my mind saying “Your lot would have been sitting in dark corners muttering about federalism, a super state, sovereign states, Britannia ruling British waves and thinking up new bogey men with which to terrorise the people.” I do not know for sure, of course; nor it is any of my business… I rather like diversity…. but I believe that my wife may be a Liberal-Democrat. I know she votes. She is always most careful to get out an early to do so.
I suppose the good news is that after all this hand wringing and putting Ireland under the cosh to vote Yes because the first No vote was inconvenient, the 27 leaders have managed to control the monster of Europa by flying in a couple of nonentities who will do what the leaders want them to do, rather than the other way round. Obama was diplomatic and sensitive to European pretensions, however, in suggesting that the new President of Europe and his High Representative will enable Europe to develop in a meaningful blah blah way…etc etc etc.
You win elections by getting more votes than the other parties.
Cybil rushed into my study a few moments ago with her laptop and told me that I must read something. She set the laptop down in front of me. I was reading the Investor’s Chronicle, or ‘Misers Monthly’ as Cybil calls it, to see if I was missing anything. My attention was drawn to an article on a blog by Mr Tom Harris, a Labour MP for Glasgow South. Seeing that he has quite a number of #1 Rosettes on his blog, like the First in Show things we have at our County Fairs, I was quite happy to read what he had to say. His central premise was that Labour will win if they get more votes than the Tories – Yes – that this will depend on having better policies – Yes – and will not depend on jiggering about with the voting system – Yes. So… Three Yes votes from me for that type of thinking. Good grief, I’ll be watching X-Factor like Farmer Brown or Britain’s Got Talent soon if I am not careful.
Cybil laughed when I told her that I agreed with the chap. “See? There are people out there in other parties who say interesting things. Perhaps you should apply to become a Labour MP…..? it wouldn’t be the first time a Tory had crossed over. Think Churchill, darling, she said with the usual glint in her eye… he enjoyed a bit of political cross-dressing as Shami Chakrabarti likes to say!”
There are limits. I told her this. Her response was insouciant. “It takes a good man to know his limitations, darling. You should watch Dirty Harry.”
With that, she was gone. I could hear her tapping away into her laptop in the drawing room nearby.
18th November 2009
Cybil not awfully impressed by my latest idea to stand for parliament, but having seen the buffoonery in SW Norfolk t’other night with the Turnip Taliban, I spoke to Jack, my head keeper, and we both agreed I could not really make any more of a pig’s ear of things than they managed to do as reported on Newsnight on Monday.
Arriving at Marylebone station too late for breakfast and rather too early for lunch, the fare on offer in the station concourse had little appeal. Fortunately, Mrs P, our wonderful cook, had had the foresight to slip a small chicken pie into my shooting bag and this, together with my whisky charged hip flask, I was able to take a perfectly acceptable brunch, seated on my shooting stick by a tree in the Marylebone Road. It was fortunate that there was sufficient earth surrounding the tree for me to set my shooting stick for otherwise I would have had to eat standing up – which is just not acceptable and I would have had a bit of a walk to Regent’s Park to find a suitable vantage point.
Believing there was a possibility that I may be asked a few questions about politics and possibly even current affairs for my ‘preliminary’ chat at Central Office, I discovered that the Conservative Party is now being run rather well by a group of chaps from Eton. I’m a rather poor example of the produce of Collegium Sanctae Mariae prope Wintoniam but at least my brains didn’t fall out the back of my head when I was there unlike some of my friends who like to say there were ‘educated’ at Eton. Be that as it may. Jack, my head keeper, had told me that The Telegraph was no longer a reliable source of tory policy and suggested that I get hold of a copy of The Sun newspaper to read on the train. He told me it would not take long for me to get a sense of current Tory thinking. He was right. it didn’t.
Law & Order brief
Reading The Sun, under the wonderful headline You’ll cop it…now! I discovered that a Tory government will give police powers to hand out on-the-spot hard labour punishments to street yobs. I know the chaps at Eton used to enjoy a bit of weed, quite a lot of it, they say, but I had no idea they were still smoking the stuff. The progenitor, or at least the distributor of this nonsense, is one Chris Grayling, Shadown Home Secretary. He wants to deliver a sharp shock to tearaways.. he even dubbed this half thought out plan as “the 21st century equivalent of the clip around the ear”.
I rang Cybil and asked if she knew anything about Mr Grayling. She did, but wasn’t minded to tell me as she had better things to do. Jack, my head keeper, was in the estate office. Nothing in Debretts.com but he did discover from Wikipedia that Grayling had spent much of his time before entering parliament at the BBC, then Channel 4 and running TV production companies and being a management consultant – so he is obviously completely suited to running the Home Office and opining on how best to get criminal justice shucked into shape.
The Sun reported “The Conservatives’ crime supremo said ‘Early intervention is a crucial way to deal with anti-social behaviour.’ I read with mounting amusement that this Tory Robocop wants to get yobs to dig gardens or clean up graffiti. I was beginning to wonder if my decision to stand for political office was sensible, given the rather bizarre policy on law and order I had just read. But there we are.
I received a message on my Blackberry to say that my interview would not be at Central Office after all. There was a bit of a flap on – the Turnip Taliban were not taking it lying down. This news did not surprise me. I know the type. They remind me of people at dinner parties who repeat themselves incessantly and snort when they manage to say something that makes even vague sense. I was told that we would, instead, meet at a pub in Chelsea.
Interview didn’t go well. A slick elegantly besuited young man who cannot have been more than 30, told me that I was not a woman. This, I have known for much of my life. It would appear, also, that I have a few skeletons in my cupboard. This puzzled me at first. All the Bagshottes have been been laid to rest in the family crypt and I could not quite see why I should suffer from the really disgraceful behaviour, venal, fornicatory or otherwise, of my ancestors. Young man looked at me with amused disdain and told me that my skeleton was that I had worked in The City for most of my career until inheriting the pile from Baggers No 7. I was told that it ‘would not be politically expedient, at the present time, to have another candidate who (a) was a man (b) had worked in The City (c) had inherited wealth and (d) enjoyed a spot of fox hunting. He did say that if ‘we get a large majority, you’ll be right in there for one of the early slots.’. Interview over.
So, my political ambitions thwarted, I returned to the estate. Cybil found it most amusing and told me that I had far better things to do with my time. She said I should be a diarist and chronicle the goings on of the new guard. Cybil talks a lot of sense; sometimes rather too inconveniently for my tastes… but there we are. So I shall.
West London Man is still in La Guardia jail… New York…. he may get out soon and return…. but if you wish to read of his exploits… here it is.