The political air has been filled with the braying of Tory triumphalists since last Thursday, and to be fair it is probably their best result for years, even decades. The rush to bury the Lib Dems is, however, somewhat premature. The mixed results that the Lib Dems have had mask the fact that while in some areas, like Islington and Winchester (OK, a local factor there, we all know) , in several other places, like Brent, we did unexpectedly well, and ultimately the party has ended up gaining councils. Also the way in which the Tories are so keen to bury Menzies Campbell I, personally, find rather telling. The fact is that the attempts to paint Ming as "too old" are a function of the fact that their leader is "too young", and with several unexplained and questionable episodes in his recent past. Over the weekend a senior journalist I know suggested a level of scandal about various senior Conservatives that I do not feel at liberty to repeat, but which, if true and if public, would be very serious.
What concerns me is that such figures can lay themselves open, by their behaviour, to astonishing blackmail. I have often wondered about John Major. His abject failure to insist on the resignation of his scandal-hit ministers until it was far to late was, at the time, taken as a sign of his essential decency (or ineptitude). With the hindsight of the knowledge of his own extra marital affair, I have wondered if, in fact, he may have been susceptible to pressure. Some powerful people may have knowledge of scandalous behaviour by politicians which they may not make public, but use for a much darker game of blackmail. Perhaps that is happening now too. Certainly I am not the only one to think that the flush of Labour scandals which are all of various vintages, but which have all been revealed at the same time, is not coincidental, but planned. Concealment, for a while, may prove the most valuable way for a journalist to report a scandal, and their proprietor to develop more influence, or profit.
All in all, my feeling is that scandal flourishes in the isolated and isolating political culture that we have created. Too many politicians have become a class apart- with no other discernible skill save that of climbing the greasy pole. There are good people in all parties, yest the system does not recognize this, preferring to dwell on the point scoring, rather than real debate. The dumbing down of political debate may have reached the point that the only thing we know about a political figure is their presumed sexual proclivities. This is a sordid decadence. As we debate the future of our political system, I would hate to have our country take the wrong path because we were too stupid to recognize the right one. Blair and Cameron seem to have come out of the same mould of shiny, public school politician- but I see no substance in either. Perhaps the voters are prepared to give Cameron the benefit of the doubt at present. However there is a great deal of doubt about him and his team- and we should remind people that substance is the essence of politics.
I am now en route to Japan, and have now discovered the utter incompatibility of all my techie stuff- from mobile to BlackBerry- with Japanese protocols, so I suspect blogging will be quite sparse over the next couple of weeks.