Prof Patrick McGhee

Posts Tagged ‘politics’

The Leaders’ Debate – In Search of The Gospel Truth

In Uncategorized on April 2, 2015 at 4:38 pm

It’s a pity the Leaders Debate isn’t tomorrow, tomorrow being Good Friday; it would have made allusions to ‘crucified’, ‘passion’, ‘flogging’ and, depending on the outcome, ‘resurrection’ a whole lot easier. As it is Maundy Thursday as a reference point doesn’t carry the same kind of rhetorical resonance: “Miliband really gave Farage a right good handout of coins just then…” just doesn’t hit home in the same way. For really excoriating attacks on the poverty of political grandstanding dipped in the vinegar of sarcasm you can’t beat a symbolically-charged, politically-motivated public execution.

But Thursday it is. Many scholars believe the derivation of ‘Maundy’ in Maundy Thursday comes from the Latin translation of the first word of Jesus’ statement at the last supper: “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” which means “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you”. I doubt we shall see much love amongst the leadership candidates tonight even if, in the end, the odds of a public humiliation and burial over the weekend are much higher.

Standing there is the harsh light of the studio arcs, side by side and pushed to recant and repent previous wrongdoings, some of the politicians will be reminiscent of the supporting cast on Calvary. It reminds me of what Beckett has Vladimir say in Godot about the evangelists’ accounts of the thieves on the cross: “one of the four says that one of the two was saved”. There is little doubt instant opinion polls tomorrow will give us somewhat more detailed breakdown than that. Instead we shall probably have conflicting and bewilderingly qualified polls spun literally left, right and centre, “43% of the viewers, aged 25-35 felt that Miliband was more persuasive than Sturgeon, except those who have switched to SNP during the Independence Referendum when that figure falls dramatically to 41%. Eamonn back to you in the studio”. Though it would be wonderful if a presenter on one of the rolling news channels said “Well, there you have it, viewers. One of the two of our reviewers of the papers says that one of the seven won the debate by a mile”.

And then we will no doubt have over the weekend Ed Balls as a born-again fiscally-responsible Chancellor appealing once more to the Office of Budget Responsibility to check that his figures add up – much as Christ said to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.”

No doubt some journalists on Good Friday will say that they were all losers in the end. I estimate 27% of broadsheet journalists will claim that democracy was, in many ways, the loser. And all the while someone in the advertising sales department at ITV will have gone to bed with the powerful sense of consolation that only a large Scotch and the knowledge that it all happens just once every five years can bring.

Other scholars believe the derivation of Maundy is not from the ‘mandatum’ phrase at all, but more prosaically from the old English ‘maund’ which was a small basket used by paupers for begging. And beg they will, in each their own way, setting out what they intend to do with that most sovereign and sacred of political coin: a democratic mandate.

But the story of Holy Thursday of course ends much as the account of Christ’s adult life begins – with a search for truth amongst doubt and deficiency. What begins on the long campaign trail in the Judean desert comes to conclusion in Gethsemane. The exhortation spoken then amongst the olive trees is one which we should all bear in mind as we listen to politicians’ personal testimonies and read their manifestos: “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Patrick McGhee

No Election Turmoil as Nick Clegg says he will “not serve fifth term”

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2015 at 7:49 pm

Nick Clegg has told the BBC he will not serve a fifth term as Deputy Prime Minister if the Liberal Democrats remain in Government after the general election.

The Deputy PM said if re-elected he would serve the full five years of another Parliament and then only three more after that and then definitely step down. Mr Clegg tipped Vince Cable, Tim Farron and Simon Hughes, as three colleagues who had absolutely no chance of being potential successors in 2035.

Labour accused him of arrogance while the Conservatives called him presumptuous.

Leadership Campaign
BBC political commentator Tim Wiggins-Hopkins said the DPM’s comments would “completely fail to electrify the election campaign”.   Our correspondent highlighted the effect on the party: “Not only will this not kick-start a very, very lengthy Leadership contest, it will also fail to send a message to party members that if they back the Deputy Prime Minister now, that there will be any discernible consequences whatsoever” he said.
“It’s like a bowl of organic Alpen”, said Nick Clegg to a room rapidly emptying of journalists. “It looks quite nice on the box and when you open the box there is superficially a lot of mixed fruit, but after a short period of time there is the risk it will go very soggy. Unless you put in less milk than is recommended in which case you do of course run the risk of it being dry. Sorry where was I?”

Job Done
The Deputy Prime Minister said during the interview he felt his job was “1/20th done” with the economy “turned round, or in many respects at least, very twisted” and that he wanted to “finish off the job” of education and welfare reform.  “There are” he said “many promises to the British people which I have not yet been able to break. I want to rededicate myself to that level of public service”.

Long Hard Look
Reflecting on his closest advisors and confidants the Deputy Prime Minister was in a buoyant mood. “You know, there’s plenty of talent there. I’m surrounded by very good people in the party.  Many of whom voted for me.  I overhead one of them say the other day that I am sort of person whom they fully expect to go on, and on and on”.
He added: ” At my age you have to take a long hard look at what you want to do with the rest of your life. I’ve said I’ll stand for a full second term, but I think after that it will be time for me to stand again, and then just twice more after that”.

Balance of Power
Labour said Mr Clegg was “taking the British public for granted” by discussing a fourth term.
Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander, the party’s general election co-ordinator, said: “It is typically arrogant of Nick Clegg to presume a fourth term in 2030 before the British public have been given the chance to have their say in this election. I want to say unequivocally that I shall of course recant all that if the LibDems hold the balance of power on May the 8th”
A UKIP spokesman said: “Have I had my lunch yet?”

David Steele is 104.

UKIP leader ‘appears in public’ After Uncharacteristically Long Absence of 14 Hours.

In Politics, Satire on October 14, 2014 at 9:57 am

UKIP leader ‘appears in public’ After Unexplained Absence of 14 Hours.

Speculation on ill-health, coup continues.

Eccentric extremist leader Nigel Farage has made his first public appearance since yesterday, the country’s official state-controlled news agency the BBC says.

The broadcaster said on Tuesday that Mr Farage “gave inspirational guidance” at a newly rented campaign shop in a bleak residential district of Rotherham.

The official Party Newsletter, the Daily Mail, was reported by experts to have carried several photographs of Mr Farage using a walking stick as he inspected the site. Dressed in his traditional sombre utilitarian yellow tweed jacket and orange tie, Mr Farage was reported to have addressed an organised gathering of party approved journalists from the mainstream media.

Reports also emerged of relieved wailing and mass hysteria after Mr Farage’s appearance. “We are delighted to see that our Dear Leader is in good health and that his long painful absence is over. All of our science projects, huge city planning initiatives and the movement of the stars themselves have been waiting for his return. It was the longest 14 hours of my life.”

The news comes amidst further reports of internal political realignments with key figures such as General Douglas Carswell changing allegiances.

On Sunday, UKIP’s ambassador to Westminster told the BBC that Mr Farage was in good health despite his failure to appear to give his nightly public address on Newsnight and Question Time.

The absence of the 54-year-old iconic yet unpredictable leader had prompted a flurry of speculation about his health.

Some have even questioned if he remains in control of the secretive totalitarian UKIP party following his unexplained absence from state television screens and official public events since late yesterday afternoon.

The enigmatic Farage, educated in the West, reportedly enjoys expensively imported best bitter, crisps and exotic dry roasted peanuts delivered by international suppliers.

While information is scarce, commentators believe that Farage plans to cut off the UK from Europe, creating a one-party isolationist state. Economists claim that despite ideological rhetoric the party’s finances are in a desperate straights, dependent on handouts from neighbours.

The desire of state-run media to end speculation about Mr Farage also indicates he hasn’t been the victim of a coup, says the CNN’s Brad Evans from the US monitoring station in Glasgow.

England-Scotland relations remain tense following a failed coup attempt last month.

A pre-recorded BBC Radio 4 factory broadcast for workers, proclaimed: “first secretary of the Workers’ Party of England, first chairman of the National Defence Against Immigration Commission of the UKIP, supreme commander of the People’s Army, our Dear Leader today gave field guidance to military leaders at the newly built Undocumented Migrants Residential District”.

Nick Robinson is 94.