Tuesday 30 September 2014

It's No Joke

Down the decades a lot of politicians have come and gone, few in glory, most gently or not so gently fading out into the mist and others who have departed as a result of one sensation or another.

Looking at the men on offer at the Conservative Conference has given the odd kick to the memory of persons of the past who might be claimed to be the intellectual heirs and embodiment of the most prominent individuals so far.

Boris Johnson had them rolling in aisles with his wit and wisdom, or perhaps lack of it.  Waving a brick about he urged the audience on to a future of riches and happiness by building anywhere and everywhere.  His sponsors must have been very happy men.

But the memory that came to mind was that of Max Miller one of the great stand up comedians of the past.  Semi-literate at best, he made up for life's hard start by an aggressive and relentless attack on conventional thinking.

I saw him live only once around 1950 but once seen never forgotten.  But I would not have put him in charge of anything that required serious thought or effort.

It was George Osborne, who has lost two stone by adopting a more austere personal regime, that was more severe.  The person he reminded me of was Dr. Edith Clara Summerskill the leading Labour feminist from the 1930's to the 1960's.

She was a formidable lady of high intellect but the time I saw her in 1959 came over as dull, dogmatic and determined in her views.  She did not seem open to other ideas and did not like critical questioning.

Earlier in 1958 I had attended a talk given by  John Stonehouse.  He was introduced to the audience by Ralph Miliband, father of the present Ed and David, as a coming man in the Labour Party and an exemplar to the young and ambitious.

My companions and I looked at each other as he told his tale and shared the view that he was a shyster and best avoided.  Quite why he ever rose as he did and was regarded so highly I was never able to fathom.

Having already come across a few wrong 'uns, bells were ringing. What is worrying is that looking at Cameron, his way with words and his personal presentation, suddenly I was looking at Stonehouse again.

But then Ed Balls reminds me of Bessie Braddock another I recall.  What is forgotten about Jack, her husband Labour boss of Liverpool and Bessie, was that they ripped up one of the best tramway systems in Europe and replaced them by smaller and less frequent buses.

One of the curious features of that bit of business was that all involved in making the decision suddenly possessed splendid new Rover cars after it was made.

Not much changes.

1 comment:

  1. There are too many wrong 'uns and too many of them are successfully ambitious. Somehow we are not screening them out of public life.