One feels, wearily, that one ought to be interested in the pre-budget report, a drama which is being dissected in the British media at this time. Frankly though, the displays in the House of Commons are ephemera. The devil lies in the detail – which will only emerge later.
And the big news from that front – according to the BBC? "More children to get free school meals"! This is what it has come down to. A goverment which once ruled over an Empire is reduced to making statements about free (i.e., taxpayer-funded) meals for school-kids.
For sure, the political classes prefer to focus on the short-term and the trivia. Events with more complex and longer-term outcomes tend to be given less attention – more so when the consequences are several steps removed from the immediate events.
Complex and multi-factoral causations are far too difficult for their minds to deal with, so they indulge themselves in their simplistic world view, so often summed up by the simple legend - it's the government's fault (insert name of whatever political party which is currently in the hot seat).
More to the point, we have sussed the politicians. Even the holders of high office are largely play-actors. The real action is off-stage and what matters there is who is pulling the strings, who is really in charge, and what the real agendas are. Thus we search for the puppet-masters and ignore the puppets.
Only the children are enthralled by the visible display and believe it is real. They watch little Darling, even though he is slave to events totally out of his control – as indeed is Mr Brown. They posture and prance. The claque shout, jeer and applaud, waiting for Mr Punch to deliver his knockout blow and Mr Plod the policeman to take him away.
Meanwhile, the power brokers are in Copenhagen, planning – if they can get their way – to re-shape the economies of the world and to commit vast sums to a malign endeavour which will cause misery around the world and on our own doorstep, the cost of which dwarfs the amount Mr Darling is playing with. But the consequences will not be immediately apparent, and the costs will be deferred and hidden.
Thus they can be ignored by the political classes and, when the effects are felt, the cause of the problem will be simple to diagnose: - it's the government's fault (insert name of whatever political party which is currently in the hot seat).