Thursday, February 17, 2005

Another Pop at Tony

Watched Blair's grilling by voters on Channel 5 last night. The first questioner who asked about Iraq was excellent and could stand in for Paxman tomorrow. "How can you sleep at night?" he asked. Predictably, Blair fell back on the old defence that Saddam had killed more people than he had. But as I've said before, in a different context, arithmetic and morality are two different things.

I was struck by Blair's inability to engage in meaningful debate. One of his ploys is to say 'I respect your sincerely held views but nothing I say is going to change your mind.' This is a stance that would effectively close down any political debate, whether in the Oxford Union or the House of Commons or, for that matter, in the local pub. It also saves him the trouble of having to marshall any reasons to support his point of view.

He also registers astonishment (or feigned astonishment) when someone puts forward a view that is shared by millions of people but doesn't coincide with his own. For example, a man suggested that it would be better not to have any 'faith schools' and argued the case cogently and eloquently. Blair reacted as though he'd said the sun orbited the earth.
Yet there are millions of us who think the enthusiasm for faith schools shows we've learned nothing from Northern Ireland and the catastrophic effects of inculcating a sectarian mentality in children.

Another tactic is to make a joke of somebody's passionately held views. After a nurse had asked him if he would wipe someone's backside for £5 an hour, he grinned at the audience and asked if someone else would like to replace him in the hot seat.
There's a place for humour in politics but Blair gets it totally wrong, using it as a defence mechanism, trying to ingratiate himself by saying 'you see what a tough job it is being Prime Minister. You get all these crazy people shouting at you.'
Of course, he's horribly plausible and a formidable election campaigner. But the triumph of style over substance is always subject to the law of diminishing returns.


At 4:14 AM, Blogger Cut-Rate Parasite said...

It must be more annoying when the guy you can't stand is in charge of the party I'm guessing you'd prefer in just about every other case. That's the only benefit of Bush ... He brings Democrats together and we get to detest the leader of the evil party rather than the leader of our own. There were times in the Clinton years when I was very frustrated in a way that sounds similar to what Blair brings out in you here.

At 9:29 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Blair and Clinton have much in common except that, as far as we know, Blair can keep his zip closed.
But my discontent is much more than a dislike of Blair and is as much about policies as people. And there's hardly anyone in the Cabinet I have any respect for - the biggest collection of creeps, betrayers and turncoats ever to sit round one table.

At 6:36 PM, Blogger Cut-Rate Parasite said...

Hey, don't sell the Nazis short. They sat around the same table often ... Goebbels, Goering, Hitler, Himmler and the rest of the boys ... But perhaps they weren't exactly "creeps, betrayers and turncoats" so much as evil and murderous.

At 8:21 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

I'm no expert on the subject but I don't think Hitler's gang were former Communists, once prominent left-wing activists, former left wing Presidents of the National Union of Students or former leaders of the National Council for Civil Liberties.


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