Friday, 8 July 2016
The Tory leadership contest(s) is down to the final pair, both women, which infuriates the progressives who, despite all their rhetoric and all-women shortlists, has yet to put a woman in charge of the UK government while the reactionary hooligans of the vicious ‘far-right’ are about to do it for a second time. The establishment is supporting the grey lady of Westminster – Major minor – Theresa May because, well, because. And much of the media are backing the same horse. All of which suggests they haven’t learned from the recent unruly behaviour of an ungrateful electorate who have shown they are simply not to be trusted with politics.
Or do they secretly want you to vote for Andrea Leadsom and are openly backing May because they suspect the party members, who have the final say, will reject the establishment candidate? And were Michael Gove’s manoeuvres a carefully crafted ploy to eventually put Leadsom into the final two – after all, he is frequently cited as one of the most intelligent players in the political game - or does the entire process just smell of cock-up? With two whole months to go, who knows where this could all lead and will we still be on course for Brexit at the end?
One question however, is surely beyond doubt and that is, why on earth would any normal human being want to put themselves forward for this sort of scrutiny? If you are an attention-seeking wannabe celeb a shady past can actively help to propel you to fame, but in a politician, even a scrupulously law-abiding, selfless, dedicated history of involvement in helping others can be twisted and turned into evidence for the prosecution. Failed relationships, membership of religious organisations, overdue library books... any and every past ‘irregularity’ will be examined under the microscope of public prejudice and used against you.
All of this unhealthy preoccupation with your existence before Westminster is why many MPs choose the obscurity of the back benches and live out their careers in the shadows, rather than in the unflattering glare of the harsh limelight. I am reminded of one such MP, long consigned to the dustbin of history, who had had a brush with the law as youth but later redeemed himself and went on to quietly campaign for a more understanding justice system. None too bright as a teenager, as an older man he liked to tell the story of how his youthful indiscretion had landed him in juvenile court.
When everybody was assembled the magistrate introduced himself to the assembly, briefly explained the procedures that were to be followed and introduced himself, inviting the other officials to do likewise. Young Mike sat nervously in the dock as, one by one, the main players stood and said their pieces. “I’m Joan, the stenographer and I record everything that is said during the session.” Then “Hello, I am the court clerk. I maintain a record of proceedings and help to administer oaths.” And “I am Steven Jones and I will be examining the defendant as part of my duties as the prosecutor.”
Attention then switched to the man sitting beside Mike who said “Thomas Preston, sir, I am Michael’s solicitor and I will be seeking to defend him to the court and prove his innocence.” At which point all eyes turned to the defendant himself. Mike stood, a little nervously, looked around at the room and stated, “Hello, I’m Mike... and I’m the one who stole the car.”