Cue Elgar

I’m struggling to write today, though that has been true for most of the week. The vibe hasn’t been there, which often happens when I’m keen to get back to the drawing. Part of today’s indifference might be due to my just sitting down and watching some of Prime Minister’s Questions. It’s not something I’ve lately done very often, so I can’t tell if today was typical or simply disgraceful.

I really hope the day-to-day business of politics is different to this pantomime. Starmer asked Johnson about the problems highlighted by the Russia Report and what the government planned to do to counter Russian disinformation. Johnson waffled on about [cue Elgar] Britain taking security seriously and then said that Starmer just wanted to overturn Brexit, [Elgar fades] which managed to be both predictable and shockingly crass. Starmer tried again. What about Russia Today, he asked. Is it time to reconsider their license to broadcast in the UK? Johnson replied that [cue Elgar] Corbyn had taken money from RT and the Starmer has “more flip flops that Brighton beach” [Elgar fades]. Or was a Bournemouth? It really doesn’t matter. None of it feels like it matters.

Sometimes my idealism gets the better of me. I do still believe in democracy and the power of hard-working people to change things for the better. Yet watching Johnson reminds me that bluster gets you everywhere. There was no attempt to answer the question. No indication that Johnson takes any of this seriously. The more of this carnival barker I see, the more disinclined I am to bother myself with politics and that’s rather sad given that I’m probably the low bar that politics should clear to consider itself legitimate. I’m no Westminster junkie but I like to keep an eye on it regularly just to keep abreast of what’s going on. I like to think I’m an “informed voter”, though one finds himself increasingly less informed…

‘Twas ever thus, I suppose, but there’s something about Johnson that doesn’t chime right. I remember the days when I’d be impressed as a PM stood up, their folder in their hand with all those clever little tags to help them navigate the questions. Johnson doesn’t do any of that. Hardly consults his notes. He just freewheels and could drunkenly vomit over the despatch box and it would all fine because the clever chaps in the video unit would put together a clever ad campaign featuring lions, flags, and yet more Elgar.

Too harsh? I don’t know. I said I wasn’t in the mood to write today.

This also doesn’t feel enough for today’s blog. I might come back later and write something else when I properly emerge my morning zombie-state (the hayfever tablets I take last thing at night still *knock me out*) or I might post a cartoon. I’m halfway through Volume 3, which I’ve now set myself to finish. Amazon still tells me that I’ve not sold a book in weeks, so that still suggests their system is broken or that I’m simply not selling anything, which might well be the case. For the moment, I don’t really care. I’m enjoying a period of productivity and I keep making myself laugh, which, these days, is most of the battle.

4 thoughts on “Cue Elgar”

  1. PMQ’s is pretty close to being dead I think. I don’t bother with it anymore. I can’t honestly remember the last PM who actually answered questions rather than use it as an opportunity for a mini party political broadcast or to turn it back on the opposition. Johnson accusing someone of flip flopping shows we have gone well beyond parody though. It doesn’t really matter what is said, the tabloids take what they want from it and project it to their tribes to further confirm deeply held opinions.

    So from the Express:
    “Boris shames Starmer over Russia”
    The Sun:
    “Johnson blasts “Islingtonian Remainer” Sir Keir Starmer for trying to blame Brexit on Russia”
    The Mirror:
    “Johnson makes false claim about Keir Starmer to deflect Russia row grilling”
    The Guardian:
    “Starmer criticises Johnson over Russia report delay”
    Telegraph:
    “Johnson accuses Starmer of undermining Brexit vote”
    Independent:
    “Keir Starmer turned tricky PMQ’s to his advantage with key boast”
    New European:
    “Boris Johnson flip flop gag backfires during PMQ’s”

    Finally the BBC made me smile with the headline “Russia report: Keir Starmer questions Boris Johnson”. It may as well have been “PM gets asked questions at PMQ’s”

    Where we are at was illustrated when we visited the in-laws for the first time since before Christmas. After fifteen minutes of arguing I finally got my father in to admit Johnson had done a crap job with regard to Covid. It didn’t matter though he said, the alternative was Keir Starmer and anything was better than him because “he would take us straight back in”.

    A few weeks ago I was sure Johnson wouldn’t make it to the end of next year as PM, after that conversation I’m not so sure anymore.

    1. Ha! That’s so eerie. I had the same thought reading The Guardian’s headline today, which I thought could have been written exactly the opposite way and it would still have made sense. Which, I guess, is the point I was making about losing interest. The reality we see doesn’t matter as much as the reality that’s being sold. I think your anecdote also makes a good point: we’re still so much in the mire around Brexit and the still evident culture war that the real politics doesn’t matter. This is as meaningful as loyalty to a football team. Absolutely nothing to do with ideas and everything to do with unthinking tribalism.

  2. I get the bleakness but I dont quite agree with it. You tell us that you find American politics more interesting and I’ll never really understand why (except for the fact you make regular money writing about it) Ours, has so much more nuisance. The American 2 part system almost inevitably that one party moves further and further to the right and the other to the left. Trump just sped it to. My point is that out politics always has multiple ways it can turn at any moment. If I may pick up robs point about how long Johnson will last as pm: I have thought since the way he came in, all gun blazing against the centrist in his party, that eventually the party would turn on him. I think this was confirmed by his publically welding himself to Cummings after the Barnard castle eye test. Then again with the fiasco at the Intelligence and Security committee. Sorry gone of on a couple of tangents there!

    1. Such as good question, so I wrote my answer as a blog post.

      I think the Tories are always ready to ditch a PM except when they look like they’re winning and so long as the polls look good for BJ, I think he stays in the job. That said, it’s also a bit difficult to sense the political climate at the moment. The virus is getting in the way of everything.

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Really?

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