Friday, March 08, 2013

UK politics: grinding us down

huhne.jpgThere can be no doubt about the number one political story of the moment – as far as the personality-obsessed media goes: the conviction ofVicky Price. We are left with the prospect of her, and her former husband, Chris Huhne going to jail in the near future.

What struck me though was the recent picture of Huhne in the Daily Mail. Out of office and no longer an MP, he somehow looks shrunken and ordinary – so very far from the puffed-up, self-important secretary of state that he once was.

The machinery of state, however, goes on, demonstrating that the placeholder has limited ability to affect the course of a department, and can so easily be replaced when he (or she) falls out of favour. But then, Huhne was going with the flow, an identikit warmist preaching to a gang of warmists. No wonder he is so easily replaceable.

Nevertheless, his potential to cause political damage does not seem to have ended, as there is some talk of the Lib-Dem hierarchy having known of his transgressions long before they become known to the police, leading to charges of a political cover-up. This may have legs but it may also die a death. Either way, it is probably no longer an issue in the grander scheme of things.

What is more significant, perhaps, is a sudden sense of loss of direction, as if the body politic has been stricken with an outbreak of what the French Foreign Legion used to call le cafard. The politicians posture and prattle as before, but their behaviour had acquired a sense of pointlessness. The coalition is dead men walking. Everybody now is waiting for it to die.

Perhaps that's why Murdoch is making some moves, although if they were that secret and important, their nature would not have been revealed. Murdoch is sending a message to Cameron, and doesn't care who knows it.

With that, and talk of rebellion in the ranks, high and low, Cameron seems to have lost any control, any semblance of conviction. He talks the talk, but one senses he is just going through the motions, waiting for the end.

Unlike Huhne, though, he looks bloated and podgy. But speaking in a West Yorkshire factory yesterday, he had as his background, "high-precision cylindrical grinding machines". Nevertheless, his incipient corpulence conceals the fact that he has a grinding machine of his own. The question is whether it is grinding him down, or us – or all of us.