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Wednesday 12 August 2009

Politics as a Spectator Sport

It’s August, so the whole body politic might be expected to be chilling out a little. After all, Parliament is in recess, and school’s out (yes, for Summer). But why not take the chilling out process one step further? Don’t take the whole thing too seriously, and treat it the way I try to – as something to observe from a distance, without getting so close that the larger picture is lost.

Along with the all important sense of humour.

Yes, even in this mode there is no doubt some personal bias and partisanship – everyone seems to have their own particular favourite brand of baked beans, as I discussed a while ago – but it’s so much more enjoyable. To anyone not readily persuaded, I would commend the growing animosity between two very different political animals: in the blue corner, the dislikeable yet somehow frequently lauded Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the Seventeenth Baronet, and in the red one, a Darth Vader like presence: Baron Mandelson of Indeterminate Guacamole. You wouldn’t want to get too close to that one, but from a detached perspective, it’s excellent entertainment.

Also, some of us have seen it all before, so are able to sniff out ideas and slogans that have been retreaded for a little more mileage: Osborne’s idea of appropriating the term “progressive” is not new, and not even in his own party. In the 1970s, Tory councillors in the West Midlands rebranded themselves as “Progressive Conservatives”, and enjoyed some success in that guise.

As for Mandelson’s talk of “cross dressing”, who knows? I’ll have to have another think about that. One shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

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