A torm in an eacup
You may, like me, think the British Prime Minister is a nasty bit of work. It seems a lot of his MPs think so too. You can’t blame them really. He lies like a trooper, flusters all his answers and appears to have lost his hair comb. Such behaviour is not becoming for anyone in high office. The shambles that is called Downing Street may be another good reason for questioning his right to keep his job. But make no mistake, it has been a shambles for decades, possibly centuries. The Great British Achievement is “Muddling Through”. We’ve been doing it for a long time and have now honed it to a fine art. Don’t knock “Muddling Through”. All political organisations do it and, with the possible exception of the Italians, the British can claim to be the top masters at it.
Infinitely more frightening than a drink in the PM’s garden is the proposal of Boris Johnson to set up a new Department of State specifically for Downing Street with its own Permanent Secretary. If you think Downing Street is a shambles, try conceiving of a government where the Pyramid to Power is extended by yet another filter – a department through which everything must go for the strict scrutiny of the PM’s staff. Upon its creation there will have to be new SOPs for all government departments. If you think the supply chain for electronic chips is a bit jammed at present, wait until you see the queue of issues waiting to get to Johnson’s Garden Drinks (JGD), as I am sure it will be christened. They’ll be praying to withdraw from Brexit then.
What makes countries and people great is their ability to see things in perspective. 100,000 troops and their fearsome fighting equipment amassed on the Ukrainian border may seem as trivial to you as it does to the British newspapers. Our planet reaching – and exceeding – boiling point perhaps appears a mere whim compared to a glass of wine in the diminutive garden of Downing Street. Potential world war over Taiwan surely cannot hold a candle to the issue of BYO tea with Boris. Perhaps Great Britain would do better if it were to educate its voters on these matters rather than encouraging them to become myopic about alcohol.
Democracy, that which we hold dear as our right of thought and expression, only works if the voters are (a) sane and (b) modestly educated. Perhaps it was inevitable that the possibility of international news and affairs, available 24-hours a day in as broad or as detailed a form as we could possibly want it, should confound the innocent, tea-loving consumer. If that is true, all is lost. But I am an optimist. I think we shall see the right of reason through the mist of misunderstanding and learn to realise what matters and what doesn’t. I’ve already written a short paper on “Does it matter” so I won’t repeat it here. The link is at the end of this article in case you missed it.
The British Public, for all their kinks and strange ways, can be collectively quite sensible when the chips are finished. They know they have the kindest way of life of any major power. They will see off Mr J, counting the cutlery as he leaves the refurbished apartment at Downing Street. They will, as usual, muddle through.
Though how you muddle through an exhausted planet is quite beyond me.