Thursday, September 24, 2015

Officer Class

If you'd asked me at the start of the week how the pig-fucking revelations would affect the Prime Minister's personal approval ratings, I'd have said Not a jot.

Now that the results are in unchanged, I'm actually surprised that he hasn't seen a bit of an improvement.

To the various analysts, this non-reaction seems to confirm that the public aren't interested in "gossip and tittle-tattle".  I mean, necrophilia and bestiality aren't quite like rumours of secret drinking or secretary-fondling, but that appears to be the consensus.

And let's not mess about - I imagine that most of the Tory voters of Britain actually believe, like I do, that Dave really did fuck that pig.  What are we supposed to think, when Dave's own friends go on TV to downplay accusations of corpse molestation, rather than to deny them?

The strenuous effort this week to rehabilitate farmyard frolics as a bit of adolescent fun, that tells me that the PM's own supporters believe that it's perfectly possible that he did it, and if not the pig-sex specifically, then something similar.

Anyway, my take on Dave's unaffected approval ratings is a bit different.  I think Dave's supporters voted for him at least suspecting that he was the type of guy who would gladly fuck a pig's severed head for personal gain.  The only thing that's changed this week is that now, they know it for sure.

I'd say the interesting thing here is that Dave has not only survived both the pig-diddling and the cronyism, in a way that few other politicians could, but that he's almost entirely untouched by them.

Never mind the cozy cash-grubbing.  Can you see e.g. Gordon Brown or Nick Clegg getting away with having beasted a dead animal in exchange for access to influential circles?  Would John Major or William Hague have laughed it off, if they'd bummed a badger or fingered a flamingo?

Not a chance.  Any one of those guys would've been summarily executed, politically speaking.  Yet it's not so for all British politicians, because for quite a few, the expected standards are somewhat lower.

Now, I'm not saying that Boris, for example, would have to strangle two prostitutes before he'd get into serious trouble... But I am saying that I wouldn't be at all surprised if he was able to shrug off one.  So long as he could convincingly claim that he'd killed her in a bumbling, accidental manner, of course.

But an Ed Miliband or a Charlie Kennedy?  They'd have been flayed and crucified if they'd appeared on television while a bit tipsy and cheerful, or had eaten a bacon sandwich in a socially-disapproved fashion. 

I think we need to be quite clear about where this disparity springs from.  It's due to the fact that David Cameron is officer class*, and we Britons are nothing if not understanding towards posh berks.

If you or I snorted a load of cocaine and staggered pissed about the streets calling pedestrians oiks and scumbags, pissing on tramps, everyone in earshot would break their wrists dialling 999.  The same rules do not apply to the Bullingdon boys.

Partly, this is down to the fact that most of the major professions are led by members of the same royal class, and it's certainly never hurt either Dave or Boris, that their mates own most of the papers.

Mainly though, it's because we're spiteful people, and our spite is easily tweaked.

I've been coming out with variations on this theme for a long time, but this week has given us the perfect illustration.  Collectively, we prefer to be ruled by a vicious pigfucker who hates the poor, than to countenance being lectured about being a bit nicer to each other.

We didn't wind up with a government of super-wealthy arseholes hammering the needy and a TV schedule full of poverty-baiting, without being at least fairly spiteful.  I'd say that it doesn't reflect well on us as a nation, that we cut people more slack, the wealthier and more privileged they are.

I don't know how far this is a humanity-wide thing, rather than a specifically British one.  I suspect that the presidents of France or America could probably bum a goat live on national television without suffering a serious electoral setback, so long as they did it while saluting the flag, singing the national anthem and promising to crack down on immigrants.

Sadly, it's not the Americans or the French that have a pig-podgering, flag-saluting Prime Minister - it's us.  And looking at the way things have been going this last few years, you'd have to say that we probably deserve it.

*"Officer class" in a way that, ironically, Paddy Ashdown or Iain Duncan Smith are not officer class. 


Metatone said...

Depressing, but probably correct overall.

But don't imagine you could replace Corbyn with an Etonian who had similar policies and expect him to have Cameron style teflon. It only works when you've got the backing of Mr. M...

organic cheeseboard said...

If you or I snorted a load of cocaine and staggered pissed about the streets calling pedestrians oiks and scumbags, pissing on tramps, everyone in earshot would break their wrists dialling 999. The same rules do not apply to the Bullingdon boys.

See also Andrew Mitchell (not a Bullingdon boy, but a mate of theirs), where repeatedly swearing at cops is seen as totally acceptable behaviour that will result in so repercussions.

I dunno about this 'personal approval ratings' thing tough. Everything I've seen recently has been a Cameron vs Corbyn thing, which skews it a bit - asking people, as they more or less literally have, 'who do you prefer, someone very famous with every paper bar 1 in support, or a total unknown who's had shit thrown at him for the past few months' - not really a fair question.

Also the pig-fucking is entirely of a piece with Cameron's pre-existing 'narrative' isn't it? If the PM is (relatively) popular having burned money in front of tramps, why would this be any different really. The 'posh boys' line doesn't really win anyone over who wouldn't already be won over, since people more or less expect the Tories to be heartless Etonians.

And equally, I doubt the Miliband bacon sandwich bullshit really affected his ratings straight away. But keep the pig thing going as a meme, a la bacon sandwich...

gastro george said...

"Sadly, it's not the Americans or the French that have a pig-podgering, flag-saluting Prime Minister - it's us."

Clinton? Bush?

Anonymous said...

Just a minute. The pig accusations came from a bitter, vindictive, and malicious source. There's absolutely no evidence that they have any basis in truth (the so-called third party evidence is nowhere to be seen).

It seems to me that, like the Twitterati, you believe the accusation because you want to believe it, just as Jeremy Corbyn has been reviled by those who oppose him on equally unsubstantiated grounds.

This is no way to conduct a meaningful political discourse, and I'm delighted that pig-gate has had no impact on Cameron's standing, just as I was pleased to see that malicious mis-reporting about Corbyn didn't seem to impact on his election.

organic cheeseboard said...

I should probably start a blog for all this linkdunping/changing of the subject, but still:

James Bloodworth manages to simultaneously be really good and really annoying, but in the process destroys Nick Cohen's entire 'argument' in the apparently prescient (according to Nick) What's Left:

flyingrodent said...

It seems to me that, like the Twitterati, you believe the accusation because you want to believe it...

If this is a hint about hypocrisy, it's absolutely spot on. I'm an outrageous, roaring hypocrite, even when I'm up in arms about other people's hypocrisy. Maybe even especially then.

As noted, I think the story is probably true, because of the responses from Cameron's own supporters, most of whom clearly believe it themselves. If they didn't believe it (or that something similarly outlandish had happened), they wouldn't have spent so much time playing down pig-fucking as a laddish prank and would've spent a bit more time laughing at it and denying it.

Ultimately though, the whole point of this post is that it doesn't really matter whether the accusations are true or not.

Not even I really care whether it is, except for comedy value. What matters is that huge chunks of Dave's own supporters plainly believe they are true, and that they don't care at one way or the other.

James Bloodworth manages to simultaneously be really good and really annoying, but in the process destroys Nick Cohen's entire 'argument' in the apparently prescient (according to Nick) What's Left

It's a bit of a problem for the Decents, this whole "proportionality" thing. Even the wackier sections of today's left - even the internet bits - look a bit pissweak compared to the various nutters of yore, going right back past Stalin to the French Revolution.

This is why they've had to turn abstract concepts like e.g. "relativism" into great roaring gorgons of horror. Because ultimately, even Galloway saluting Saddam's manliness looks pretty tame, historically speaking.

Still, I love how James basically accepts everything that Nick is saying, then dismisses it out of hand. "The left is full of traitors etc. etc. but only a silly person would get this arsey about it".

Phil said...

Not for the first time, I wish these people weren't so lazy.

Jeremy Corbyn's Stop the War Coalition may appear to be sinking to new lows with each passing day, but its predecessor the Peace Pledge Union spoke of Hitler's Holocaust in terms of the "very serious provocation which many Jews have given by their avarice and arrogance".

Cohen mentions George Orwell in his piece, and thus he ought to recognise the familial similarities of today's politics to the regressive politics Orwell spent so much of his life fighting. In a letter written in 1942, the 'progressive' poet D. S. Savage – the Lindsey German of his day but with a modicum of talent - informed George Orwell that Hitler required "not condemnation but understanding".
right up until the collapse of the Soviet Union high profile left-wing columnists were downplaying the crimes of Stalin and crowing smugly about "new Soviet data that records much lower gulag populations".

He provided a link for the last of these, which showed Seumas Milne doing what we 'journalists' call 'writing an article' about, well, new Soviet data that did in fact record much lower gulag populations than those speculatively recorded in the Cold Warrior literature. (And the lower figures haven't in fact been superseded by higher ones, although in the nature of things there's no agreement on a single figure.)

Did "the Peace Pledge Union" say those things? No: you can find them quoted in articles and posts by Kamm, Bloodworth(!) and others, attributed to a known anti-semite and Fascist sympathiser who was (fairly briefly) a member of the PPU's council. What happened, in other words, was that during a war with Nazi Germany, an organisation campaigning to stop the war was infiltrated by Nazi sympathisers.


Phil said...

As for "the 'progressive' poet D. S. Savage", it may be that Bloodworth has the familiarity with this guy and his work which he's affecting to display, but I doubt it. There's the fact that, while he published as 'D. S.", all the obituaries call him 'Derek', for one. In effect Bloodworth's saying "there's this thing reprinted in Orwell's Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters by 'D. S. Savage', whoever he was - the Lindsey German of his day no doubt (hur hur) only with a bit more talent, probably (hur hur)". As with so much of Decency, this kind of stuff goes down terribly well with the people who already agree; if you don't it just looks like bullying, or (what's worse) fantasising about bullying.

Anyway, the letter from D. S. Savage - actually part of an exchange of open letters printed in the Partisan Review - is... odd. Savage says that he opposes all Fascism anywhere, including the Fascism which was developing in Britain, and that pacifism is a moral phenomenon, opposing all war as a disaster for humanity. "Surely the 'defence of democracy' is best served by defending one's own concrete liberties, not by equating democracy with Britain, and allowing all democracy to be destroyed in order that we may fight better." "I do not greatly admire the part 'my country' has played in world events. ... I feel identified with my country in a deep sense, and want her to regain her meaning, her soul, if that be possible: but the unloading of a billion tons of bombs on Germany won't help this forward an inch."

So far so good. Then this:

"England does not even know what she is fighting for ... Hitler and Germany contain a real historical dynamic, whereas we do not. ... Hitler requires, not condemnation, but understanding. This does not mean that we like, or defend him. ... He is, however, 'realler' than Chamberlain, Churchill, Cripps, etc., in that he is the vehicle of raw historical forces ... We do not desire a German 'victory'; we would not lift a finger to help either Britain or Germany to 'win'; but there would be a profound justice, I feel, however terrible, in a German victory."

The best we can say for this is that the concentration camps weren't common knowledge in 1942, let alone the death camps; perhaps Savage was still thinking in terms of redressing the injustice of Versailles. Not very nice, though.


Phil said...

But if those quotes say anything about the contemporary peace movement, what they say is that it's nothing like that. Are there people in prominent positions within Stop the War - the equivalent of the Marquess of Tavistock's membership of the PPU Council - who call for peace while actually being sympathisers with wait for it IS, Assad, Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban? It's intuitively unlikely, let's face it, but that's what would be required; I can't see an organisation of jihadi-symps being at all bothered about stopping Britain bombing Syria or Libya.

(So far from sneering at them for not demonstrating against Russia, Rentoul should be commending STW for not leaping to the defence of their Islamist brethren - that's the problem with STW, isn't it? Now I come to think of it, what is the man saying? What's the matter with you, only oppose wars when Britain's fighting them? Yes, that's how it works. Peace movement. Look it up.)

As for Derek Savage, lots of people are saying that "the 'defence of democracy' is best served by defending one's own concrete liberties", that we can't be too proud of lots of things 'Britain' has done and that dropping bombs on other countries is a lousy way to help people here. But is anyone saying that Assad requires understanding, not condemnation, "in that he is the vehicle of raw historical forces" - or that there would be "a profound justice ... however terrible", in an IS victory?

They had proper nutters in those days.

Bonus point: who wrote this in 1940?

"What is bad about Jews is that they are not only conspicuous, but go out of their way to make themselves so. ... [A friend] says that the Jews in business circles are turning pro-Hitler, or preparing to do so. This sounds almost incredible, but according to [him] they will always admire anyone who kicks them. What I do feel is that any Jew, i.e. European Jew, would prefer Hitler's kind of social system to ours, if it were not that he happens to persecute them. Ditto with almost any Central European, e.g. the refugees. They make use of England as a sanctuary, but they cannot help feeling the profoundest contempt for it. You can see this in their eyes, even when they don't say it outright."

Anonymous said...

Flying Rodent: No, I didn't mean to suggest that you were a hypocrite and I'm sorry if I gave that impression. I was trying - and clearly failing - to make a different point.

dsquared said...

the prominent anti-Semite quoted by Phil was also an anti-imperialist and relativist in 1939:

"In a prosperous country, above all in an imperialist country, left­wing politics are always partly humbug. There can be no real reconstruction that would not lead to at least a temporary drop in the English standard of life, which is another way of saying that the majority of left-wing politicians and publicists are people who earn their living by demanding something that they don't genuinely want. They are red-hot revolutionaries as long as all goes well, but every real emergency reveals instantly that they are shamming. One threat to the Suez Canal, and ‘anti-Fascism’ and ‘defence of British interests’ are discovered to be identical.

It would be very shallow as well as unfair to suggest that there is nothing in what is now called ‘anti-Fascism’ except a concern for British dividends. But it is a fact that the political obscenities of the past two years, the sort of monstrous harlequinade in which everyone is constantly bounding across the stage in a false nose — Quakers shouting for a bigger army, Communists waving Union Jacks, Winston Churchill posing as a democrat — would not have been possible without this guilty consciousness that we are all in the same boat. "