Real leaders are never two beats behind the music.

‘Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is to urge European governments to stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” in the face of the eurozone crisis,’ wrote some worthy scribe on the BBCNews website yesterday afternoon. Given the spread of information available to the man of whom almost everything has been said, Slick Nick looks a bit daft twenty four hours on. Mr Clegg of course has to be careful about the rules relating to his EU pension (I’m being serious) so he is bound to make potty comments about The Great Project from time to time; but he could’ve said something rather more profound than, “Fear not, good friends at the Alamo, relief is coming”. Dan Hannan quipped on the Daily Politics today, “I think Cleggy is rehearsing for his bid to become the next EU commissioner from the UK”, which struck me as both funny on Dan’s part but disgraceful on Clegg’s: millions of people voted for him as a means of effecting genuine  change 15 months ago….not to bugger off at the first opportunity, and return to his first love, eutocracy. But then, that’s the Cleggamerband for you: besuited technocrats on their way to a soft sinecure….at our expense.

I suppose The Cleggamerband (a group term I just invented, by the way, so feel free to get it trending on Twitter) is a shorthand for the old cliche, “They’re all the bloody same” etc etc, but there is a point to it that goes beyond wordplay cliches: it is the inner circle leaderships in our political set that are all the bloody same, not all 648 of the fodder cramming themselves once a week in the Commons chamber for PMQs. And they are all the same in that they are, like Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army, two steps behind the rest of us.

Let me give you some examples of what I mean. Over at Twitter right now, there’s a trend called The Red Flag – it being Labour Conference week and all that. Go there and read the comments of these gonks about the importance of singing The Red Flag, and then try to regain your steer on the fact that it is 2011, not 1926. The people at Red Flag are, mainly, politics wonks – aka, the future leadership of Labour. It doesn’t bode well for a forward-looking Britain going forward, as the management consultants might say. The 16 year-old dweeb star of the Labour bash who spoke of “the welfare State being savaged by this right-wing Tory government” was just two years old when the greatest Tory of them all, Tony Blair, came to power. Thirty years ago a young, buck-toothed idiot called Hague did a similar routine for the Thatcherites then in power. He became the Foreign Secretary….with disastrous results.

Given that 16 year-old Labour adherents still stuck in 1981 and precocious ToryBoys pining for 1956 are the future by and large, it suddenly becomes very easy to understand why Harriet Harman is stuck in 1971, David Cameron in 1979, and on the other side of the Pond the Fed Reserve Chairman is just getting to grips with Chubby Checker in 1964. The political class positively breeds arcane anachronisms.

Judging by his sexual mores, it seems entirely possible that in DSK’s mind it is 1347, where droit de seigneur is still all the rage. For the delegates at Brighton – the ‘rank and file’  – it is still 1998: they were on telly two days ago being interviewed, and what they said was merely ‘mul’iculsietee’ with some bridges made of drivel in between. In Nick Clegg’s mind, it is 2000, with a shiny new currency to play with, and a European Union looking forward to everlasting economic success based on shuffling paper and budgets around.

Unfortunately, out here beyond the Ivory Bubble, life is very real indeed. The future is a thing we know must be faced, but thirty years of healthy, safety, correctness, blind obedience and welfare being sprayed onto vast swathes of the population (including me, as it happens) have left most people nothing short of fiercely denialist, or simply terrified.

In the immediate term, I simply cannot take any media hack seriously who speaks in favour of, or writes earnestly about, the EFSF expansion to 440 billion euros, when the CDU, the central bank, the BundesCourt and most of the population of Germany have all said “thus far and no further”. I find myself looking down my nose at stock trading twerps who were still, until this morning, betting on the Germans buying into a 2 trillion euro rescue plan devoid of 2 trillion euros. Dan Hannan, again, aptly opined earlier today that “if anyone had 2 trillion euros knocking about, don’t you think they might have spent it by now?”

The contemporary philosopher Eckhart Tolle speaks with some conviction about The Power of being in Now. I confess to being a huge fan of his outlook, in that he says “Use lessons from the past to help plan the future, but don’t live in either State – past and future are unreal: the only reality is in now”. Our political class – especially Labour in the UK, starry-eyed pillocks in the EU, and the economics knitting circle – live entirely in the past, and never think about the future. As for Now, they will do anything to avoid it – on immigration, eurobonds, mad pc, familial breakdown, debt….it matters not what the subject matter might be.

This is an astonishingly dangerous attitude for those in charge to adopt. It represents the cultural disease from which the West as a whole suffers: the desire to escape from reality. But if the only leaders on offer are hopelessly dated fantasists, then it is indeed time to look at some real alternatives to 57 varieties of Corporal Jones, each of whom is still celebrating the relief of Mafeking.

Update @ 17.35 GMT: the markets are all up on news that the Merkel Bill passed. Clearly no leaders there, either.

26 thoughts on “Real leaders are never two beats behind the music.

  1. Another futuristic bombshell that is the subject of collective, political denial and gentle tiptoeing is energy security, principally oil. The consequences and ramifications of ignoring this issue cannot be overstated but who do we have as our cheerleader, Buff Huhne!

  2. ‘Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is to urge European governments to stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” in the face of the eurozone crisis’

    On the Daily Politics programme today Daniel Hamman MEP said of Nick Cleggs utterances, “I suspect that Cleggy who is an old friend of mine, is auditioning for his next job as the British nominee to the European Commission”

    Many a true word is spoken in jest.

  3. If I understand you correctly,somebody ‘magics up’ 2 trillion Euros from nowhere,ie new bonds issued by somebody to replace the existing dodgey bonds issued by the PIGS on which the interest is in doubt,and the repayment unlikely,and these new bonds pay interest,and that has to fall on,say 200 million still not quite Bankrupt Taxpayers in the EU,so for the Ponzi scheme to keep going we are all down for interest on 100,00 Euros each and the capital for the rest of our lives,the EU is solvent again ,the banks and insurance companies have been saved,and all that has happened is that the PIGS and the shareholders of certain banks have walked away free at the cost of a dramatic wealth transfer from the prudent.Why are there no riots in Germany tonight?

    • “Why are there no riots in Germany tonight?”

      Today, the Bundestag didn’t approve lifting the PIIGS Welfare Fund to €2 trillion, only to €440 billion. Afaics, the €2 trillion fund idea is dead in the water even though €440 billion is not enough to allow the PIIGS to continue living in the style they’ve become used to.

      • … or even the style they thought they were going to get away with, until Pap’s visit to Angie yesterday. When the pfennig drops in Athens there is going to be rather a panic. Forget the debt problem, how to manage to pay for stuff next year? Same applies to others in the long term subsidy queue.

      • ISTM that Greece must exit the euro and re-intro its own currency to begin a recovery from the nightmare they’re involved in. Even then it’ll still take a few years but at least they’ll have a chance. The EU pols and crats who keep insisting Greece will remain a member of the e-zone (Barroso is the latest) are wilfully condemning Greece to eternal poverty to save their precious USE dream.

  4. Interesting post, John, and one which reminded me of some research a few years ago where people were asked which year they thought was the ‘best ever’ for pop music (1970 as it happens). It became clear that peoples’ favourite year for music happened to be when they were seventeen.

    It occurs to me that people like Miliband, Cameron, Clegg et al seem to be stuck in some ideological timewarp occasioned at some point in their youth. Didn’t Cameron make some witless remark when justifying the billions he intends to hand over to foreign dictators – sorry, international aid – because he remembered 1985? He would have been 19 then, but the broader point remains, I feel.

    The smell of honeysuckle bushes on a sunny day, or that of burnt cordite in bracken does it for me… but I don’t propose to guide the affairs of the nation accordingly…

  5. I wrote an articulate and well thought out tweet on the topic of milliband myself today, it went like this
    UKNZSAND Sandy Abbot
    Hate #edmilliband, draw comfort that when fired he will earn zero on lecture circuit. Still amazed people pay fortune to be lied to by Blair

  6. We need a captain Mannering, John. With his banking experience, he would soon sort out those derivatives, totalling a quarter of a Quadrillion. I just have a feeling, that we are still fighting wars, but instead of weapons,we are using fake money, Its a bit like Monopoly, but in real life, and even if you lose,its only rubbish money anyway. Its surreal,as if the world is floating by without us. Oh sod it, lets put Coronation Street on thats real.

  7. “Mr Clegg of course has to be careful about the rules relating to his EU pension (I’m being serious)”

    Does that not make him (and others like him) effectively a paid agent of a foreign power?

    I suppose if they pass enough of those treaties it ceases to be “foreign”…

    • “Does that not make him (and others like him) effectively a paid agent of a foreign power?”

      Yes. And Mandelbum, Kinnochio, Huhne, Patten, Brittan and Old Uncle Tom Cobley :-)

  8. Supposing we could actually get a set of leaders who knew what they were doing – how much would they be constrained by the faceless mandarins in Whitehall?

    Is it possible that our current set of leaders are more competent than we give them credit for, but are themselves constrained by EU or “Common Purpose”, etc, appointees in Central Government?

    On the other hand, supposing they were to implement the general wipe-out proposed in this http://www.seangabb.co.uk/flcomm/flc047.htm in what ways would the country cease to function in any important way?

    For a specific example, if the whole Foreign Office (aka the “camel corps”)were shut down, in what precise ways would the country suffer? Could a mass-reduction be mitigated successfully by continuing to only employ the specific “Team-Leader-grade and subordinates” teams that deal with these issues? How did we rule a quarter of the planet with Victorian technology with only a few hundred employees in the FO?

    • I think that Britain managed to rule its Empire the same way that the US does-i.e. have compliant local rulers who benefited. It was a bad mistake to call it an Empire (well Wilhelm I became an Emperor so Victoria pestered Disraeli to become an Empress)-pride, fall, etc. Should have called it an Alliance or Confederation-much nicer sounding,-same effect.

    • I’m with you all the way on the Foreign Office: anti-Semite pillocks every one of them. They’ve been wrong about everything since 1926, if not 1065.

  9. BT, you are right, of course.The Slovaks might vote it down on 17 October,for instance.And there are others.So if the 2 trillion turns out to be a pipe dream,and 440 billion is small change,’the market is always right’ becomes not just a truism,but an admission that the coming conclusion will prbably be very messy.There will be riots,somewhere.

    • I cannot remember a time in my life when so many politicians have been in such great denial about a problem, it’s cause and the solution staring them in the face. Current EU govt policies are more likely to increase unrest among their populations than reduce them.

  10. My personal experience as an Englishman is that I am much more comfortable travelling in the Germanic countries than the Franco-Latin ones. For example, Holland (esp Friesland) is like being in a flat and orderly English county with lots of bicycles everywhere.

    A year or two ago I spent a fortnight in Germany and Austria with my kids, travelling back via Paris as they wanted to see the Eiffel Tower. Despite having spent time in all the continents of the World except Australia, I have never experienced such a severe culture shock in my life; the comparative total disregard for rules and laws in Paris was extraordinary.

    I now think of travelling from the UK to Europe as being like a normal guy walking into a clothing store; if you turn left out of the Chunnel towards Germany it’s like walking into the menswear section – everything is normal although there are some things you’d never wear yourself. But turning right into France is like blundering into the ladies lingerie section and not being able to find a way out.

    A grossly simplistic proposal is that in the 19th century when we were with the Germans aginst the French, everything went well for us on the whole. But in the 20th century when our elites set us with the French against the Germans (esp. 1905 Entente Cordiale) we saw nothing but decline. Maybe that elite stretches as far back as the Norman Conquest where the (ex-pat Viking) William brought over his French mercenaries and gave them lands as booty – thus creating a French-biassed elite ruling over a Nordic/Germanic Anglo-Saxon people.

    I’d be interested in your view on this John, since you have committed yourself to living in France. Would you be equally happy in (say) Baden Wurttenberg lands, or Rheinland Pfalz? What would be better and what would be worse?

    • What I’m getting round to wondering is that if Germany were to leave the Euro would we be well advised to leave the EU and encourage them to come out too and join us in a Nordic Union with Holland, Denmark and the Scandinavian countries.

      Would that be a far more stable and prosperous Union? Or would we find France and the ClubMed gate-crashing 10 or 20 years later and find ourselves back where we started?

      • My own personal view is that Britain has a lot more in common with other northern european countries (and America) but there also a lot of differences which could easily give rise to differences over time. For that reason I think the best thing is to create a series of bi-lateral agreements with other countries covering trade, immigration and in many other areas. That would be the best of all worlds and wouldn’t need a bloated, unelected EU-cratocracy to administer.

  11. Pingback: HACKGATE DAY 261: CAN MURDOCH SURVIVE THE GLOBAL ATTACKS? | The Slog

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