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The hallmarks of genius

Posted by Richard Sunday, May 15, 2011


One cannot let pass without some comment the truly breathtaking piece by Peter Oborne in The Sunday Telegraph. But as he is claiming that, "David Cameron has the makings of a truly great prime minister", then talking in terms of a "genuinely heroic status", one has to mark it only because it serves to illustrate the degree to which Oborne has become so completely enclosed in the cloying embrace of the bubble that he has totally lost his ability to think rationally.

Taken with the piece by the clever and sophisticated Tim Montgomerie, the pair of articles offer mute testimony to the thickness of the bubble walls which surround the Westminster village. It also marks a new nadir for a newspaper which has long since ceased to offer any worthwhile political comment.

What is genuinely interesting, though, is how extreme the perceptions have become. Oborne is lauding a man who is of such low calibre that he was unable to lead his party to victory in an election that should not have been possible to lose, and who has since lurched from blunder to blunder, without even addressing the most important issue of the moment – public debt.

But then Oborne has Cameron stand alongside Attlee and Thatcher, a pair whom he deems to be the only two great prime ministers since the Second World War. If one presumes that he is referring to Clem Attlee, the man who managed to turn his landslide victory of 1945 to such a degree of unpopularity by 1951 that even Winston Churchill became electable, then one certainly has to concede a degree of greatness.

The reputation of Thatcher, one suspects, will undergo much revision before it settles – if indeed it ever does – but to put Cameron alongside her under the cover of the word "greatness" would surely be thought a joke if it were not so evident that Mr Oborne was serious.

As to the extrusions of Mr Montgomerie, his real contribution is to the yardstick against which the decline of the newspaper in which he writes can be measured. Any journal which sought to offer sensible and intelligent political comment, would barely trust him with the task of delivering copies – and then only as long as all the houses were on the same street, with all their letter boxes at the same height.

Thus we have two worlds – the bubble and the real world, in which the former can deliver comment of such stunning vapidity that it could not be achieved accidentally. As a work of art, in its profound depth of detachment, it has the hallmarks of genius.

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