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Here's a very interesting article by one of my childhood favourites, Michael Rosen.

"Petulant rhetoric." It's just too apt.

Like most people I've been watching the chummy, plummy prime-minister-by-default squirming behind the despatch box for the past fortnight or so. It's quite funny how the whole thing came so rapidly after Ed Miliband had an uncomfortable moment in which he got stuck in some sort of spin-loop and continued babbling the same talking point over and over until everyone wondered if they were going slowly mad.

As Dave burped on Wednesday "You live and learn, and believe you me, I have learned."

Apparently he's learned from Miliband's mistake, but not in the way you might think. While Ed has rightly scurried screaming from his odd, robotic performance, Dave has decided to adopt Ed's demented talking-point tactic and keeps saying the same shit over and over again.

Of course, this is nothing new in the terrible, television conscious world of 21st Century politics. If your tongue (or more likely your speechwriter) stumbles across a yummy, biteable little chunk of nothing then the common practise is to repeat said bon mot more often than an idiot at a party, just in case people didn't hear your scorching wit the first time around. Or the second. Or third. (Witness Dave and his 'slumber party' jab at the opposition bench.)

What really caught my ear this week was how last week's 'firestorm' of allegations had now become a 'flood'. Dave really liked 'firestorm' last week at PMQ's. He kept saying it until presumably somebody told him to stop. Obviously I'm a writer and I think about words quite a lot but words are common currency in politics and the switch from fire metaphors to water metaphors struck me as significant. Why significant? Because we have to consider the possibility that someone in government actually had a conversation that might have gone a little something like this.

"You have to stop saying firestorm, Dave."

"I thought it played quite well with the chamber."

"Yeah, it did - but the trouble with firestorms is they burn everything the fuck down."


"Call the allegations 'a flood', okay? Floods aren't as bad as fires. With floods everything's wet, smelly and in need of structural repair but with firestorms everything's...well..."

"On fire?"

"Totally. Floods are Boscastle - cosy, adorable, brave little Boscastle. Firestorms are more Hiroshima, August 1945. Where would you rather be, Dave?"

"Well, as you know, I'm very fond of Cornwall..."

"There you go then."

And so it was. Next day Dave's firestorm became a flood and he scooped the headlines with "Cameron Stems The Tide," in one or other of the Tory papers. Somebody thought about that - I'm convinced they did. They had to. This is how politics works. Every single word is chewed over, nibbled, tasted, spat out and sampled fifteen times in order that it should prove palatable.

'Conspiracy theory' was another nice one Dave chucked into the pot too. It's nicely loaded, conjuring up images of unemployed men with poor personal hygiene and way too much time on their hands, babbling about how NASA covered up the photographs of 'The Face of Mars'* or writing for the Daily Express. And to be fair, conspiracy theories contain an awful lot of detail - therefore they attract the kind of people who love detail, the tinkerers, the socially odd, the mildly to insanely obsessive.

The geeks, in a word. And obviously there's no two ways around it - the leader of the opposition is pretty fucking geeky. He's physically awkward, speaks with a lisp and demonstrates a beady eyed attention to detail. Stick a tinfoil hat on the boy and call him fucking crazy. Done. Everyone who's concerned about the phone hacking scandal is a swivel eyed conspiracy theorist - weird, mouth-breathing fatties who think the moon-landing was faked and that 9/11 was a put up job. **

It might just work for Dave. Might. Unless further revelations and the judicial inquiries reveal that there really was a conspiracy - a culture of conspiracy, back-patting and sly-winking usury that went all the way through News International, the Met and the corridors of power. Dave may think he's held back the tide, but the tide may still have the capacity to leave him looking like a right Cnut.

* NASA were the ones to release the famous 'Face of Mars' pictures, ostensibly for shits and giggles. It's safe to say they probably won't do that again.

** "Yeah, but what was that weird explosion when the first plane hit?" Oh, I dunno - several thousand gallons of jet fuel catching fire at once? That'll do it.


( 3 monkey screeches — Screech at me )
Jul. 22nd, 2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
(Witness Dave and his EPICALLY SEXIST 'slumber party' jab at the opposition bench.)

Fixed that for you.
Jul. 22nd, 2011 05:58 pm (UTC)
Oh, there was more than that. I'm sure the sneer at 'never having seen her in her pyjamas' was a low blow at rumours that La Brooks and Tony Blair got way too cosy. And did you hear him kissing up to Louise Mensch by saying how 'plucky' she'd been in continuing her select committee questions after Murdoch got piesmacked?

'Plucky' - gosh chaps, it's almost like she's quite brave. For a girl.

Fuck you, David Cameron, for making me feel sympathy with a walking emetic like Louise Mensch, even for a second.

Jul. 22nd, 2011 08:42 pm (UTC)
To me Firestorm is a robot on Robot Wars!
( 3 monkey screeches — Screech at me )