Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Je ne regrette rien

Being on the other side of the world for three weeks has an odd effect on one's perception of short-term British politics. Of course, one can visit the BBC and other websites. Papers like The Australian include quite a lot of coverage of British politics. That's just as well as the ABC nightly news seems to focus on shark and crocodile attacks and cats fighting off snakes.

Of course, one can get interested in Australian politics, in particular the election in Queensland. Australian state politics is poorly covered in the UK and I have to confess that I was not aware that the state Labour government had been voted out in Western Australia last November.

I come back to Britain and find there is a fashion for political apologies. I suppose it was all started by those rather grudging and scripted apologies made by bankers to a Parliamentary committee.

Dave Cameron is a very smart tactical politician and he set a trap for Gordon Brown by apologising for past Conservative errors last Saturday. The difficulty is that if Brown makes a partial apology, it can gives ammunition to the Conservatives, but also allows Dave to claim that it doesn't go far enough.

Brown now seems to have made a rather guarded and partial apology here:

It's supposed to be the start of a fight back, but I doubt whether it will get off the ground. A return to statism is pledged, although the Conservative seem to be edging in that direction as well. That leaves open the question of where a classic liberal might vote.

Not for the rather lightweight utopians represented by the Liberal Democrats, although I would have to qualify that by saying that Vince Cable is a very impressive politician who has been proved right by events and communicates very effectively. In fact, he is now regarded as a national treasure and sage.

Interesting that in an ageing society ageist considerations barred him from the Lib Dem leadership. Of course, Ming Campbell was mercilessly satirised on television as giving bedtime talks from his nursing home with a blanket over his knee and a cup of cocoa in his hand.

Satire often defines politicians. Some of us can remember David Steel portrayed as being in David Owen's pocket. It was a very damaging image.

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