My appetite whetted by this week's local electoral melodrama, I've been searching for some Class A political journalism to feed my lust for pragmatism.
There were little flashes of it from a few of the TV people. Michael Crick, who blew the lid off the Andrew Mitchell stitch-up, was rude as hell to Farrago, no doubt furious at having stuck to him like a leech in the hope of discovering anything coherent and coming up empty-handed. That left the usually mild-mannered Gary Gibbon to go after the rest of the gang. Desperation set in after the AutomEtonian responded to every single question with the line that this week was simply about local councils. He genuinely seemed to forget he was the Prime Minister, and I guess it's easy to see why. This seemed to put Gary in such a foul mood that he went after Flash Nick and Millibore like a mortar crew on speed. Each prevarication was interrupted with a fresh round down the tube, and another explosion of disbelief at the factually-twisted response.
The only problem with the Gibbon assault was the apparent premise of the questions on capital spending: that it's the job of the state to fill every hole in the infrastructural landscape. Creating a whole new mountain range out of UK public debt is strange medicine indeed, whatever the cause. Ironically, Flash Nick went closest to a straight response, saying that while they'd barely invested a bean of new public money, the coalition has done a great job of attracting private capital to public projects. If that's true, then let's hope they've overcome the planning fallacy, and the PFI vultures leave a little flesh on the state carcass for the rest of us.
As for Ed, well...
In the end, the howling in my soul could only be quieted by re-reading "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72". Forty years on, nothing has changed. The vicious wheels of the party political machines are still flattening the best interests of the citizens into the road in the rush for power and patronage, and Thompson's substance-fuelled take on the political animal is so brutally right that the recognition will make you laugh like a hyena. This, for example, could have been written today:
"This also reinforced my contempt for the waterheads who ran Big Ed's campaign like a gang of junkies trying to send a rocket to the moon to check out rumours that the craters were full of smack."
Now why doesn't anyone write about politics like that anymore?
Is it merely because today's journalists are sober, or have they abandoned hope that we can produce anything different to the current stage-managed pantomime?