Someone once said – it might have been Douglas Adams – that anyone offering themselves for high public office, should under no circumstances be allowed to take on that role. I think that it is perfectly legitimate, therefore, to ridicule those with the arrogance to assume to rule over the rest of us.
I was reminded of this today when I found a whole pocket full of £1 coins in my trousers. Remember what we used to call them? Maggies – after Thatcher – because the coin is thick and brassy and it thinks it is a sovereign… Remember “We are a grandmother...” Well Margaret Thatcher has gone the way of all flesh, and there is no virtue in poking fun at her any more. I do wonder though how many people in this country had a quiet chuckle when the song “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” climbed to No 10 in the hit parade during the week of her funeral…
What really started me on this thought process though, was listening to members of the House of Commons last week praising Jack Straw to the rooftops. Straw-Man has decided to retire at the next election, and even the Speaker was eulogising over his qualities. Well, I have not forgotten Straw’s trenchant support for Blair and his policies during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
I dare not criticise Blair for that business because my furious indignation and the laws of libel would pretty soon land me in court. But during the weeks leading up to the war, when millions of people in this country were against it, Straw-Man was Blair’s avatar, the man on the radio with his clever lawyer’s-speak, twisting and turning, ducking and diving, diverting the difficult questions, obfuscating and sounding oh so plausible. A dozen times or more I heard him on the Today programme and elsewhere defending the indefensible. He was of course speaking to his parliamentary colleagues as much as to the public, and it was a triumph of rhetoric which culminated in Parliament approving the intention of going to war.
Still, the country learned its lesson; who can doubt but that the recent vote against military intervention in Syria was carried with the memory of that other vote for war ten years earlier…
Apparently then, Parliament really do hold Straw-Man in high regard. Perhaps he has mellowed since. Even though he was Foreign Secretary at the time of the Iraq adventure and it was not his ultimate decision, he, along with Campbell, Blair’s attack-dog, was crucial in persuading the country to go to war. A war predicated, as we now know, on an “intelligence failure”.
So can we look forward to his memoirs: “Memories of a Man of Straw”? It will be interesting to see how he justifies his actions of ten years ago.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs