Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Promising The Earth

While we griddled ourselves beside the pool, I made a further attempt to work through my vast stack of unread books.

J. Paxman's "The Political Animal"- bought as usual from a remaindered shop- was not as satisfying as it should have been, but his conclusion is on the money: Westminster electoral politics is now little more than a fantasy auction in which the parties compete in making extravagant promises they cannot deliver. And increasingly, they promise exactly the same things.

The Big Extravagant Promises are of course wildly improbable stuff like an excellent NHS free at the point of use. Which, despite all the evidence, they all still reckon they can deliver (see the excellent Doc Crippen here and here for how charging would improve healthcare).

But politicos are also happy to make small extravagant promises, especially if they're headline grabbers. IIRC Jim Hacker once personally intervened to extract a kitten that had got stuck up something unpleasant. Was it John Prescott?

Now Tony has intervened to send those 400 swindled schoolkids to see the World Cup. He reckons getting those kids to a match is "something we need to work on". So right up there with Iraq, Afghanistan, imploding public services, increasing crime, global warming, global poverty, Cherie's hair, etc etc.

Of course, World Cup tickets will be a lot easier than sorting any of the Big Promises: all he's got to do here is phone one of his corporate cronys, because as we know, corporate sponsors get their 20% of the tickets specifically so they can give them to our needy MPs and other deserving cases. Much cheaper than the £500 grand they would cost street retail.

Then we can look forward to football crazee Tone accompanying them to the match itself. What joy.

PS Paxman does have some interesting snippets in his book. For example, did you realise that 62% of British Prime Ministers lost one or both parents before the age of 15? Or that Prezza's dad was a magistrate, rather than the horny Son of Toil we'd been led to believe? No wonder they were appalled when he failed his 11 plus.

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