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An epidemic of panegyrics

Posted by Richard Monday, May 16, 2011


Over the past year, I have been through thousands of back numbers of newspapers, stretching all the way to the 1930s. From that, I can aver with some confidence that there has never been a period in the history of British journalism where we have seen such a torrent of sycophantic drivel about a man who calls himself prime minister.

We have in Cameron a man of whom even his best friends would have difficulty defining as a conservative, yet we have Leo McKinstry gushing about the "enduring strength of British conservatism" under his tutelage. To Max Hasting – no mean pompous ass – the Boy has "shown daring and hints of greatness", while Benedict Brogan writes of "something remarkable, even miraculous" about the coalition.

Even Simon Jenkins heaps praise upon the visage of the Great Leader, declaring that he has emerged as "a leader of real ability with a talent for luck", and Philip Stevens of The Financial Times tells us that Cameron "exudes a confidence that says the thing that counts above all else is that he is prime minister". He was made for the role, we are thus informed.

I thought the Oborne effort was bad enough, but the gut-wrenching adulation we have been seeing is neither healthy nor safe. There has always been an element of irreverance and even iconoclasm in the British press, so this fawning sycophancy is completely out of character. Even if Cameron was as good as he is made out (he isn't), it is quite unlike the media (on a historical scale) to say so.  For all but a few, the collective minds of "Fleet Street" have succumbed to the fawning virus.

At least we are getting some corrective from Hitchens and thank goodness for Dellers (extract above). Dellers has picked up on this, which makes that Saturday demonstration even more fatuous. There were all the little wuzzies asking for more cuts, and we have this vomit-inducing politician setting out to bankrupt the nation with the climate change nonsense driven by the barnkrupt Huhne.

But for Hitchens and Dellers, it would be easy to believe one was going mad. The epidemic of panegyrics is quite unnerving. There is a psychic disease abroad and, not for the first time, one wonders where it is all going to end. It really cannot last or the patient may never recover - the fever must soon break.

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