‘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.