The next post will be on or before Saturday 17th June
THE ELECTION THAT BEAT ALL
I was writing recently about the surreal and mesmerising in everyday life, and more than a little of that unhinging unpredictability is evident in the current remarkable UK election results. There is such a sense of piquant catharsis is there not, to see all the smirking pundits confounded now that Jeremy Corbyn has been taken seriously as a leader and Labour has increased its vote and its presence in Parliament. And with a hung parliament as likely prospect and possibly even a coalition led by the vilified Corbyn, every pragmatic rule and mathematical probability have been cast aside. Recently I’ve heard two very different English voters talk with autopilot contempt of Corbyn as a ludicrous impossibility and Theresa May as being of the natural and proper stuff. One was a friendly and caring woman of mid-fifties,a lifelong Tory who will be rendered speechless by the impossible happening. The other was one of those porky, whiskery suit and tie entrepreneurial blokes of mid 30s who quoted Corbyn as a historical IRA chum, ignoring the fact that he had simply called for inclusiveness in power sharing discussions, and seemingly oblivious to the fact that the IRA is for years now a democratically permanent presence in the Northern Irish parliament and indeed the cabinet. I read Porky’s saloon bar rant on a Facebook page and it had all the usual splenetic guff about courageous even saintly entrepreneurs, being held back by restrictive and envious do-gooders. I imagine he must be clinically depressed today and thinking seriously of emigrating to the Virgin Islands, but perhaps at the crucial stage they will not like the cut of his sulky and chauvinistic jib and will not let him in.
More stupefying is the sight of the Scots Nationalists losing seats to the Tories, with Alex Salmond the massively articulate and unflattenable former leader biting the dust. Why the hell on any logical scale in 2017 should the Tories be on the rise in Scotland, given that Labour whose heartland lay there for decades, was decimated in the previous elections by failing to support the Nationalist referendum? You either turn to Pirandello or Kafka for poetic elucidation, or you decide it is a volatile and puerile matter of personalities and the voters taking a visceral dislike to someone regardless of their principles and politics. Meanwhile to see Nick Clegg the Liberal Democrat leader dropping out is no surprise on two counts. Firstly, as an erstwhile coalition ally of the Tories, he would regularly eat his own face to justify dropping all principles and doing the unspeakable. The other reason for his failure to touch any voter’s heart in any meaningful sense, is the first impression he makes on one, which is of either a sweet and handsome little boy of about 6 who behaves himself to universal applause at a birthday party, or alternatively, if you see him as an adult, which is hard, he has the pallid and hygienic innocence of someone who lacks any kind of authentic passion about anything. The one credit point he has is that he actually speaks a couple of foreign languages which is utterly unknown in British politics and sadly did not endear him to any of the staunchly monoglot voters out there.
Backstage, or do I mean offstage, there lurks a Nigel Farage, former boss of UKIP, the right wing anti- European nationalists, that perky vaudeville chap with his crinkle-cut haircut who always reminds me of the bygone stage buffoon Cheeky Charlie. Farage would go down beautifully at a Rotarian supper with his charismatic boyish grin and bantering after dinner bonhomie, and indeed he probably does and makes a handsome packet out of it. Now that Jeremy Corbyn might have some prospect of power and influence, the after-dinner superstar fears that Leaving Europe aka Brexit might be hampered and delayed and so he is threatening that he might have to go back and save the day. Is there such a thing as a jester who can function as deus ex machina? Possibly in Shakespeare there were, but those jesters were both subtly paradoxical and furiously fast witted, and alas Farage is stuck at the plodding Rotarian stage when it comes to wit, meaning subtlety and paradox are as foreign to him as those Europeans he loathes so much.