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...a sweatshop of moxie

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Yes We Cam

It was once said of monarchy, that there is no more stark dividing a line between yesterday and today, than when a King dies.

The phrases, "out with the old and in with the new", as well as the peculiarly British idiom, "yesterday's news" are witnesses to the fact that in any field of governance, what was is always immediately forgotten in the light of what is.

In fact, so strong is the pull of power, that it can draw in a disparate set of people, previously impossible to imagine as working together, because a crown, a mitre, or a sash is difficult to reject.

These two concepts of past power and the need to join forces to achieve power neatly sums up the preceeding five days lived by the British people.

It has been a tense, often bewildering time for a populace used to seeing one Prime Minister leave Number 10 Downing Street within minutes of hearing voting results, indeed with moving vans parked at the back, ordered by the PM's wife on the Friday BEFORE an election -- a custom characteristically British in modesty and lack of presumption, as well as innately tongue-in-cheek. But post-voting day Friday came and went without this age-old tradition being enacted due to a change of leadership: a leadership, furthermore, immediately accused of squatting like an old age pensioner not quite right in the head, hazy about his next move when finally given the sack by his old boss, the butt of jokes and sneers even by his erstwhile supporters.

Meanwhile, the presumptive leader was seen scrambling in undignified haste, trying to sell to his own troops, not to mention to those of his potential ally's, the idea of joining forces (to use that noxiously noble phrase) for the good of the country.

This might be all very well in Germany, with their singular lack of electoral humour (or any other kind of humour) or in New Zealand, who have dumped their Anglo-Saxonic "first-past-the-post" voting system for proportional representation; in any case, a cheery nation more comfortable with sheep than with the heady decision-making of what is still a world power -- but it is not common in the UK, and is certainly not the British Way.

It is this lack of clarity that is at the heart of the British liking of tradition.

In a world where uncertainty is the rule, tradition provides a helpful steadying hand. The play may be a tragedy or a comedy, the actors may change roles from one moment to the next, but at the end of the day, everyone exits, stage left.

As everyone knows, nature abhors a vacuum. And that's precisely how media came about, to fill it.

The rumours of who, what, where, and when allowed television and print media to have a field day with speculation, and half-truths, vividly revealed in tweets via Blackberries to their attendant followers.

One moment, we were being tweeted at that talks had gone swimmingly between the leaders of the Conservative and Liberal-Democrat Parties, only for others to counter-tweet that the Lib-Dem leadership had basically stabbed the Tory one in the back, by horsetrading its way unto power with the losing Labourites.

Who's to know what really transpired at the end of the day, because journalism is not history. It's merely short-term hearsay.

What we do know is that negotiations broke down between Labour and the Lib-Dems, allowing for the Conservatives to resume talks (perhaps now clearer about what they could offer) finally able to form a coalition government, the first in Britain for 70 years since Labour PM Ramsay MacDonald was given the nod so to do by none other than George V, the present Queen's grandfather.

Unlike that heady time, or during the Alec Douglas-Home appointment, the Queen herself didn't play any kind of role in choosing the Prime Minister. This was truly a more hands-on approach by the leadership of all three Parties.

Yet, so sudden was the decision to resign effective immediately his charge of Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, this Tuesday, that it is said David Cameron didn't realise he was about to become PM until three minutes after Gordon Brown started on his way to Buckingham Palace, having received a tardy phone call from Number 10! Goodness only knows where the third member of this poli-sci comedy, Nick Clegg, was at that moment. Perhaps in the shower shaving his peachfuzz baby-face or picking out another orange tie to wear for his close-up, Mr. DeMille.

Let me just say that the Rt. Hon Dr James Gordon Brown gave a moving, and gracious exit speech in front of his old digs, his red-headed wife at his side.

His wife, I like a lot. She's long been known to soothe the savageness of that beast, Gordon Brown. If "The Queen" is ever remade about this election, I hope they choose Cynthia Nixon to play Sarah Brown. Her partner, Christina Marinoni could even play Gordon Brown, with a bushy salt-and-pepper Scottish wig, as she already has a nice array of neckware to offer.

At long last, Britain had its head of government, and whilst awaiting his arrival at hallowed Number 10, I had predicted in real-time that "Dave's" maiden speech as PM would be drowned out by the jeers and fingers-up by Labour "supporters" just outside the gates -- a prediction I am sad to say, was fulfilled all too vividly.

For if there is anything you can count on, it is the abject sore-losership and sour grapeyness of those on the left-of-centre politically. It's almost as if they believe that they have a Fate-given right to perpetually lead a country, and should the opposite occur, the cruel, unfair and deluded world needs to hear them squeal in toddler-like distaste. All those of you who remember the Inauguration of President GW Bush in 2001, looong loooong before Iraq, will understand what I mean.

Elections will probably be called as soon as Autumn (September-October?) because this hastily assembled coalition may soon see its first fissures before Summer recess.

But never mind.

Today, Britain can at last go back to doing what it does best. Put the kettle on, and worry about today, tomorrow.

Good luck you two. Err, three. No wait! Four. I think.

UPDATE: Sigh. You win some, you lose some.

Related Reading

Conservative Party Leadership (September 23 2005)
RIP Ivan Cameron
When They Were Young

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  • Welcome back, Vic!

    This election mess was certainly an event. It's interesting how the parliamentary system lets the UK more or less muddle through this noone-won phase, instead of forcing a 2000-style escalation/showdown and absolute four-year victory.

    That said, is anyone actually optimistic about Cameron?

    By Blogger JSU, at Wed May 12, 12:44:00 am GMT-4  

  • Hi JSU!! :)

    (Your recent mention of Spurs has made me interested in watching a "tune-up" match for the WC, since I literally have not watched anything in 2-3 years, and cannot go "cold" into a tourney like that. I need to build up my stamina again! So I'll be looking forward to Fulham winning in Hamburg today)

    I think one of the best commentaries I've heard about this bizarre election, is a Telegraph writer stating that the British public, in their wisdom, managed to punish all Parties (implying for the recent economic woes and unpopular "bailouts" to bankers).

    I agree with that, but as I see events unfold in real-time on the BBC (I have a direct VPN-type link), I also notice another phenomenon occur -- one that you can imagine, is normal but still surprises every time.

    It's simply this: there is nothing more stablising to a previous shaky situation, than the imprimatur of legitimacy.

    Yesterday, everyone gave this coalition government until Autumn to call new elections. 5-6 months, tops. Today, evey cynical BBC commentators say that they expect this coalition to last 2 years (one chap raised it from 18 months, merely overnight!).

    I myself don't know how long it'll last, but once David Cameron has settled into Number 10, I honestly think the public will "warm" to him (the non-ideologues, obviously).

    For two years, Britons have had to tolerate that dour Scot, Gordon Brown. "Dave" may be a toff according to some (he's not, he's solidly middle-class), but he's cheerful, down-to-earth, intelligent and capable.

    Like Americans, Brits like competence above all.

    I honestly believe then that if people are not optimistic today, that they soon shall be comfortable either way. :)


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed May 12, 02:34:00 am GMT-4  

  • P.S.: As the saying goes, what God giveth, He taketh away.

    He gave me the trial of having to bear a skinny foreign Socialist at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but is mercifully allowing me to reconnect with British politics, which even when my heroine, Maggie T, was in power, was never truly interesting to me.

    In fact, I am now suddenly all over newspapers from back home, even signing up for PressDisplay.com's subscription service so I can read real UK newspapers in full, immediately.

    My self-imposed exile from my homeland's political culture is over.


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed May 12, 03:07:00 am GMT-4  

  • P.P.S.: :P

    Regrettably, though, this new interset doesn't mean I will be returning to full blogging any time soon. But hey, I'll be around checking comments a bit more!

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed May 12, 03:10:00 am GMT-4  

  • "foreign Socialist at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue"?
    WOW Vick, not much there left to the imagination of where you stand on the birther issue huh?

    Anyways, good to have you back.

    By Blogger dotJorge, at Wed May 12, 10:07:00 am GMT-4  

  • Actually, I consider people who genuinely believe that Obama was born in Kenya (or wherever else other than Hawaii) deranged.

    I realise many of them simply want him to be less secretive about producing a paper trail and records like his college transcripts, which he (unlike say, Bush and Kerry did) steadfastly refuses to do, but that doesn't make me feel any less sneering towards "birthers".

    Of course, after the copious paragraphs in my blogpost and in the comments, it's telling, dear Jorge, that you honed like a laser beam to three little disparaging words about a man who's not even tangentially the topic today. Not only that, but you chose to ascribe to me the worst possible motivation for these words, despite the considerable amount of time you have spent in getting acquainted with my thoughts and way of being on the internet.

    That's disappointing, Jorge. Very disappointing.


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed May 12, 01:11:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Hey Vic, I'm actually going to the US-Czech game in person in a few weeks. Now that's a tune-up, though much of the luster is gone without the big Charlie Davies return angle. Can't watch the Fulham final today -- hope Dempsey gets another miraculous winner (check out his decisive goal against Juventus!).

    As for the "birther" business, Tom Maguire et al. got it exactly right: the lame true-believers are off their rocker, but that Obama feels the need to keep this (and his grades, and his teaching, and his connection to a less competent Tim McVeigh) shrouded in mystery is itself scandalous.

    I'm sure there will be good feelings for Cameron due to familiarity, but the fact is that it wasn't just personality dragging Brown down: Britain, like the rest of the developed world, is in a serious fiscal and cultural crisis, and Cameron seems no more inclined to take the big conservative steps required than his predecessors.

    But who knows? I didn't expect much from Chris Christie either, and he's been a marvel.

    By Blogger JSU, at Wed May 12, 02:46:00 pm GMT-4  

  • But hey, I'll be around checking comments a bit more!

    That would nice! :)

    Any chance that "Yes We Cam" will be a bit like Yes We Camelot, what with the young children and all?

    By Blogger chickelit, at Wed May 12, 03:04:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Actually Vick, I "honed like a laser bean", as you said, because I've known you (if reading somebody on a blog and on R.S.S is knowing) for a few years now and, even though I agree with you on most topics, that line felt out of character for you. That's all. Believe me, I didn't mean anything else by it, and I am sorry if that was the way that came out. (Can I blame my happiness at seing a new Sundries post?)

    By Blogger dotJorge, at Wed May 12, 03:57:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Hi EL POLLO! Great to see you around these here environs. :)

    Okay, Jorge, we each stated our points and hopefully the misunderstanding (such as it was), is over.


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu May 13, 01:31:00 am GMT-4  

  • I read "skinny foreign Socialist" as a reference to his raised-nose, sniffing, imperial and Ivy-league disdain for America-as-it-is. Not as some sort of coded birther statement.

    By Blogger Starless, at Thu May 13, 12:11:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Starless, HELLO!!!

    That's exactly what I meant, and I think that to anyone who understands me and the way I think, the latter supposition is the immediate one that should've sprung to mind.

    For example, look at me.

    I'm foreign, even foreign-born, if you will. But "foreign" I am not.

    I am completely at home in the country of my adoption, in mindset, in cultural goals, in reverence for its legacy as a nation, in my belief of its overwhelming goodness without need for "fundamental transformation".

    I am at one with America. Obama is not.

    It's incredible to me remembering that I once read a piece years ago (I think by a WaPo journalist) that asked the question, "WHERE DID CONDOLEEZA RICE COME FROM?", stating that her experiences as a black American woman of her era were so at odds with the majority of fellow blacks; furthermore, one who reached different conclusions, especially politically, that it seemed almost as if she were an alien dropped on earth.

    But not one word from that journalist or any other in media, torturing themselves with anger and distrust over Barack Obama, asking the same question.

    A middle-class black girl with a pastor father who was an University professor, who liked ice-skating and piano, and majored in Russian studies eventually becoming a Republican was totally an alien to the Black Experience according to them but...

    The son of a black African Harvard-trained economist and white Ph.D mother, who had been raised in Indonesia, had a half-Indonesian half-sister, was raised in Hawaii (less than 4% black TODAY) with his two white grandparents, the grandmother of whom was a Vice-President of a bank, and he furthermore attended the most elite prep school on the island, later going to Columbia and Harvard Law...no, he was COMPLETELY in synch with most black people's experiences in the US.

    It's a disgusting double-standard, and I will rail against it each and every time.


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu May 13, 06:02:00 pm GMT-4  

  • finally able to form a coalition government, the first in Britain for 70 years since Labour PM Ramsay MacDonald was given the nod so to do by none other than George V

    Churchill formed an "all parties" coalition government in May 1940, having been given the nod by George VI :)

    By Blogger The Drill SGT, at Thu May 13, 06:34:00 pm GMT-4  

  • I am at one with America. Obama is not.

    The gun-and-religion-clingers comment (along with a few others) was a dead giveaway on that one. If you're an American and you say something like that, that tells me that you don't understand the fundamental importance of our first two enumerated rights. It's one thing to disagree about their interpretation, but to off-handedly dismiss them says that you just don't get it at a gut level.

    It's a disgusting double-standard, and I will rail against it each and every time.

    They have a narrative and they're sticking with it. (See the recent so-called History Channel show, America the Story of Us. The celebrity talking heads they have interpreting the story of black Americans are Al Sharpton and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. What does that tell you?) But to get back to Condi v. Barry Sotero -- I recall all of the disgusting racist and sexist things said by the Left about Condi and her non-reaction to them and then I compare all of the incredibly tame criticism which penetrates Obama's thin skin and I wonder if I'm watching the same movie as everyone else.

    Every day, particularly since the election of the first "black" (what happened to post-racial America?) president, my growing belief that politically correct identity politics has brought nothing good to the table is reinforced.

    So there.

    By Blogger Starless, at Fri May 14, 07:30:00 am GMT-4  

  • And BTW, don't try to tell me that's a woman. I mean, really, how gullible do you think I am?


    By Blogger Starless, at Fri May 14, 08:27:00 am GMT-4  

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