Thursday, March 22, 2012

A naive twat writes: why can’t there be more political consensus? And something ugly might be stirring in China, though exactly what is anyone’s guess

A few years ago, I did something which to many of my friends seemed quite inexplicable and which even I must admit was out of character. But if I outline why I did it and what took me to the point of doing it, it might, perhaps, make a little more sense.
I am not, for a variety of reasons what can for the sake of simplicity be call ‘a joiner’. I like to plough my own furrow and loathe following the party line on anything. But about ten years ago I signed up with the Conservative Party, although it is only fair to me that I should add that 14 months later I signed down again, that is I wrote to the branch vice-chairman informing him that I would not be renewing my annual subscription, thank you and goodbye.
My reasoning at the time was simple: Blair was about to help to invade Iraq, which I was wholly against, and he was anyway proving to be the nine bob note I had long suspected him of being. It is easy these days to claim that one spotted what a self-serving, shifty cunt he was and is early on, but I thought so even before the 1997 election which brought New Labour to power. Being, ten years ago, the father of a six-year-old and a two-year-old and — ahem — having matured a little more in my old age (I had just turned 52), I took more seriously the direction the country was going in and what was happening. But I was reluctant to be just another pub bore, sounding off about ‘that bastard Blair’ or ‘that idiot Duncan Smith’ before getting another round in. There are enough pub bores around, sounding off in every language under the sun, to populate the world twice over, and I did not want to be just another one. So I thought to myself that the time had come to put up or shut up, to become politically active or to resign myself to being just another of the sheep. But I also knew that no one can do anything on his or her own in the way of politics and that, my ‘non-joining’ mentality notwithstanding I would have to throw my lot in with one of the three main political parties. Ah, but which one? I fell in with the Tories by a process of elimination. I asked myself with whom did I disagree least, and the answer was the Conservative Party.
I am not ‘a Tory’ and I have never been ‘a Tory’ and I hope to God I never shall be ‘a Tory’, and from the off I felt like a fish out of water. But that, I told myself, was a sacrifice I would have to make. I did become active: I stood for the local council and thoroughly enjoyed the campaigning, I did more than my fair share of licking envelopes, I organised a ‘fund-raising event’, I attended a party conference in Blackpool (although to be fair I did that because I was curious to see what such conferences are like and as Blackpool once played such a significant part in the British psyche, I wanted to visit the place). I even managed to get myself onto the Conservative Party list of approved parliamentary candidates and put myself forward to be the local Tory candidate.  And I put up with the discomfort of being regarded by most of the other branch members as something of a pinko. And the truth is that in their political terms I am ‘something of a pinko’.
What struck me from the off and what disappointed me right from the start was that no one, not one of the members I came into contact with or for some reason or other spent time with seemed to be interested in ‘politics’. Not one. For many it was more a social club. For a few, those who were active, it was ‘to do with politics’, but their efforts in that regard almost wholly consisted of trying to raise funds in some way or another. Politics themselves (itself? I’ve always wondered) just didn’t come into it, but it was for the politics that I first swallowed my pride, overcame my reservations and signed up. Another sacrifice was having to put up with people saying, when I had put forward my view, ‘well, you would say that — you’re a Tory’. No, dear heart, I would tell them, I’m not saying it because I’m ‘a Tory’ but because it’s what I believe. Then there was the discomfort with having to keep my mouth shut when in the company of hangers and floggers and swallowing the sarcastic comment I was just itching to make. And after 14 months I had had enough. I was simply wasting my time. But I didn’t want my membership to dribble away: it was important to me that I should do the thing properly. So I wrote to the vice-chairman (a retired rear-admiral and a nice guy) telling him I would no be renewing my membership and why. It meant, and means, that I am back at square one, of course, itching to be politically active but not having the wherewithal to do much, but that, I’ve decided is the lesser of the two evils.

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More to come...

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Meanwhile, after an unexpected invitation to lunch at Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant in Padstow, no supper but a glass or three of red wine, all followed by a pretty aimless trawl through the net in search of nothing in particular, I have come across rather odd reports of an ‘attempted coup’ in Beijing. What is being reported, but for one reason or another can no longer be substantiated, is that there as a ‘movement of tanks’ in an around Beijing (and I am itching still to spell it Peking, but I understand the British PC police will have my guts for garters if I even consider doing so), followed by ‘reports of gunfire’. The Washington Post has carried a report as had the Daily Mail (‘The Trumpet of The Truth’ as guardianistas like to call it), but what is going on – if anything – is your gues as well as mine. Apparently, and my ‘apparently’ must of necessity be more speculative than any previously used ‘apparently’a power struggle has started. I can’t actually tell you between whom, but I can say that it is at present being presented as a struggle between those who want a return to the purer values of Mao and those who are keener on business. It seems a chap called Bo Xilai was sacked in these past few days. The Mail bills him as an ‘anti-corruption official’, but at this point think was should hold fire on sanctifying the chap as there are also claims that his ‘anti-courruption’ zeal was rather limited to his habit of rounding up his ‘corrupt’ political opponents. Mr Bo is said to have close ties with the ‘nationalistic military’ whatever that means. As ever it would seems in all things Oriental, ‘inscrutable’ is the word we are all obliged to use when describing, or trying to describe, what is going on, so perhaps my sagest advice here might be to ignore every word I have just written. If, of course, things are beginning to go tits up in China, that is not very encouraging news for the rest of the world in as far as something like 99pc of what is produced in the world is made there. On the other hand this must surely be very good news indeed for the commentariat as whatever they claim is going on there is utterly unverifiable and thus whatever they say cannot be proved wrong.

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