Empty Suits

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity” Yeats

Christopher Booker:

The one clear message of this dismal election campaign has been that, whatever we may think of David Cameron, Ed Miliband has only confirmed that he is less fitted to be a prime minister than any other party leader in history. At least the dotty Michael Foot could be a powerful orator. But in every respect Mr Miliband is just embarrassingly inadequate. Most Sunday Telegraph readers will know that, if we were to wake up next Friday to hear that he was heading for No 10, we would have a sickening sense that something terrifying had happened to our country,

The ultimate reason why our politics have degenerated to such a dispiriting pass that more people than ever before have no idea which way to vote – 40 per cent according to one poll – is the way both our major parties have, in the past 20 years, tried to reinvent themselves, alienating many of their old natural supporters. Labour did it, initially with great success, under Tony Blair. But by blurring over the moral lines, with his invasion of Iraq, his courting of the dodgier forms of capitalism and much else, his “New Labour” became a party so removed from its idealistic roots that many of its supporters no longer knew what it stood for.

Similarly, Mr Cameron set out to create a “Not the Conservative Party”, deliberately turning its back – from naive “greenery” to opposing grammar schools – on all the values which had traditionally defined Conservatism. Ignored and affronted Tories left in droves (when I recently learned that a quarter of our local Tory association resigned over gay marriage alone, I was told that this had lost another constituency party half its members).

Into the vacuum left by this wooing of some imaginary “centre ground” poured Ukip on the Right, Greens on the Left and, most significantly, the nationalists in Scotland, making this election less predictable than any one can recall.

Actually, I had the “sickening sense that something terrifying had happened to our country” way back on 1 July 2007.

But aside from that, I broadly agree with Christopher Booker’s assessment above. The main parties have lost their way. They no longer really stand for anything.

And when political parties no longer really stand for anything, they just get blown whichever way the wind blows. And the weather is now being made by people who have very clear ideas of the sort of world they want. e.g. the healthist zealots in the WHO and Tobacco Control, Islamic fundamentalists, etc, etc.

After all, if you don’t really believe in anything, you’re very likely to surrender to the beliefs of people who really do believe in something, however mad it might be (e.g. the “threat” posed by secondhand tobacco smoke or carbon dioxide in the atmosphere).

I don’t think that David Cameron really believes in anything. So he just climbs on passing bandwagons, and adopts other people’s causes or policies. Environmentalism. Antismoking. Gay marriage.

I think that David Cameron really only wanted to be head boy Prime Minister of Great Britain like he wanted to be head boy of Eton. It was a feather in his cap.

It’s not that Ed Miliband is any better. I think the only reason Ed Miliband wants to be Prime Minister is so that he can tell his brother, “I told you so!” I’ve forgotten what his brother was called (Mike? Pete?), but Pete was a high-flyer in the Labour party, and even tipped as a future leader, until Ed came along and stole it all from him. After which he stormed out of politics in a huff.

I don’t think Ed Miliband believes in anything either. His father was a Marxist, so he’s probably got a streak of that running in his veins. No, what he believes is probably just the opposite of what brother Pete believes, much like Peter Hitchens’ beliefs were simply the opposite of his late brother Christopher’s beliefs.

And Nick Clegg doesn’t believe in anything either, of course.

They’re all empty suits. They’re all hollow men. And they all follow the same political fashions, which they divine using focus groups. I bet Winston Churchill never used focus groups.

When people don’t really believe in anything, they won’t fight for or against anything. And they’ll be easily defeated by anyone who is prepared to fight for something. And so the empty suits are easily bulldozed by determined pressure groups (or terrorists). They have no means of resisting them. If you shout loud enough, you’ll get what you want from them – because they won’t shout back.

And all the emerging fringe parties that Booker identifies are made up of a variety of true believers in one cause or other. They’re made up of people who believe in something. And it’s probably something of a heady experience to believe in nothing much one day, and to have acquired a comprehensive set of new beliefs the next day. It’s a conversion experience.

What Greens believe is (in my view) rather nonsensical and self-defeating (closing down industrial civilisation). But they do at least believe in something.

And I wonder to what extent Scottish Nationalism grows from revulsion at all the hollow men in distant Westminster. And since the hollow men are almost all English, revulsion at them easily becomes revulsion for the English, which in turn easily translates into Scottish Nationalism. All the hollow mainstream parties are in headlong retreat in Scotland.

It may well be that the Scots are simply leading the way, and the English and Welsh will soon share their disenchantment with the Westminster political class, and if not at this General Election, then the next one, we’ll see a collapse in support for the mainstream parties across England like we’re now seeing in Scotland.

It’s potentially a very dangerous situation – a sort of vacuum – in which anyone with sufficient belief and determination can attract followers – rather like Mussolini or Hitler, who emerged out of a similar disenchanted era.

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About Frank Davis

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30 Responses to Empty Suits

  1. jaxthefirst says:

    I’ve been thinking along much the same lines lately, Frank, and especially as this woeful General Election campaign has progressed. With senior politicians coming up with small-fry ideas like free schools meals (as a proposed General Election policy? Really?), or showing how cool and trendy and “down with the kids” they are by chatting in a “Like, well, OK, yah, y’know?” way with an ex-standup comedian with odd hair, it’s become increasingly clear that those who hold senior positions in Parliament today just haven’t got the faintest idea about how to run a whole country. But I wonder if the reason for this is because they don’t have to run the country any more, because, these days most of the big, important jobs that politicians used to be in charge of – like immigration or defence or public spending – have now been swiped away from them by the EU.

    With all the big, major decisions and policies now dictated from Brussels, Westminster MPs simply haven’t been left with anything very important to do. MPs now are just like caretakers – there to give a veneer of “national legitimacy” to the EU’s rules by passing them through our legislative mechanism to make them look as if they are “our” laws, but in reality they’re just another level of civil service – unquestioningly administering the rules of the EU, albeit by “going through the motions” of passing laws in order to give the whole charade a veneer of still being a democratic process. They’re the front-men, if you like, whose main purpose is to mask the undemocratic nature of the EU in order to keep the populace ignorant of the fact that they are actually living under the power of a massive, powerful dictatorship.

    It is, I think, one reason why they’ve all become so jittery about the explosion of UKIP onto the political scene. No real Tory or Labour politician of any calibre from former times would be in the least bit concerned by the emergence of a new party. They’d engage with them, debate with them, lock antlers and put up a really good fight, and if necessary they’d take shrewd note of the reasons why this New Kid on the Block was gaining such ground and pinch some of their ideas to steal their thunder and get themselves a few votes. They wouldn’t – as our current crop of politicians have done – resort to personal insults (“fruitcakes and loonies”), bury their heads in the sand and refuse to debate one-to-one with them (without inviting in a load of other fringe parties to dilute the effects), or resort to insinuating that if the electorate vote for the New Party, then the Other Side Will Win And That Will Be A Terrible Thing.

    But then, if you take away all the important jobs from a role, then you don’t need very good people to do it. Which is why our politicians today are such a bunch of small-visioned conformists. Because that’s all they need to be.

    • waltc says:

      Good stuff, jax, by both you and Frank. It’s pretty much the same here in the US. Liberals — at least the ones currently in power ( our Ladies and Gentlemen of Perpetual Outrage) –who used to be Libertarian or Libertarian Lite are now illiberal, purse-lipped, censorious, and proposing a wide communitarian conformity as the road to their dreams of utopian equality. Meanwhile, the previously purse-lipped and now soi-disant Conservatives are pretty much nowhere but eager to jump on the passing PC bandwagon to prove (to the press? The kids? The healthists?) that they’re not –at least not entirely– Neanderthal as the press, the kids and the healthists define it. The Democrats (aka Liberals/ Progressives) seem to win the contest for Heartiest Demagogue and it’s hard to believe they believe what they burble while the center Right occasionally burbles something sensible but doesn’t follow through. A plague in both their houses.

      Yes, the Yeats. One of my three favorite poems of despair. The others being Dover Beach and September 1, 1939.

    • Frank Davis says:

      That’s a good point, Jax.

      In the EU scheme of things, our politicians are effectively unemployed, with all the decisions being made elsewhere. They are no longer even our representatives in the unrepresentative EU.

      I can see a time coming when the English will elect a UKIP government, only to find that it can’t actually govern in any meaningful way..

  2. John Watson says:

    I get the impression that there is a lack of vision on the part of politicians, they have completely lost sight of what the UK was and is. Their vision is greyed out, they can barely see who we are as a nation for the want of the sameness that is the EU.

    Ask any European where the come from they tell you the country of their birth, not Europe, try getting a German to admit he is the same as a Frenchman or an Italian, it won’t happen, he is a German with all the virtues (and faults) of a German, culturally different from his French and Italian neighbours. this is not compatible with the one size fits all of pan European politics, Germans do not want t to be exactly the same as the French or the Italians they are Germans with their own vision of what Germany is, of who Germans are in the great scheme of things,just as the French and Italians are.

    The same is true of the UK, even between the countries and principalities that form the UK, The Scots and the Welsh have their own vision of national identity, the vision of NI is different from their neighbours in Eire. The only component of the UK that seems to have lost the vision of who and what they are is the English themselves, growing up the sight of the St. George cross flying on St. Georges day (or any other day come to that) was a common sight, today it is not so common, the fear of offending immigrants who are free to fly their own national emblems on their holy days or their independence days overrides the use of the St. Georges cross which is more often seen waved by England football supporters than the British government. If you look closely at the Union Flag the St. Georges cross is superior to the Saltires upon it (the Cross is whole where the Saltires are broken) by right of conquest and treaty and has been for more than two hundred years. The Saltire represents the vision of Scotland and the Scots people, equally the St. George cross is the vision of England and her people, just as the combination of Saltires and St Georges cross is the vision of the UK and her people.

    The vision of England is England, it is what the English believe themselves to be, it is this that politicians have lost sight of, the Germans, French and Italians have retained their vision of themselves, they retain their pride in it, they defend it vigorously they resist the sameness that the EU relies on as witnessed by French farmers regularly demonstrating against EU regulations or Germans standing by their fiscal beliefs so why then can’t the English stand by their vision of their nation? Perhaps it is because England really is run by empty suits, the EU and a lack of vision.

  3. annabellc says:

    England is not run by EU beurocates, it’s run by faceless civil servants, who are the establishment, more so than polititions. Political parties and leaders come and go but the civil servants never change, they just retire with knighthoods, or as Lords, for their long service and dedication to the running of their country. It is the civil servants who have the real power, who call the tune, make the real decisions, and give our polititions the bullets to fire. Our polititions are just the mouthpieces for the ever more powerful civil service.

  4. Rose says:

    Hospital fines for smokers flouting ban

    “SMOKERS lighting up in hospital grounds could face fines of up to £1000 as part of a raft of new public health measures.

    Hospital premises across Scotland became smoke-free on April 1 but the Evening News revealed last month that people were openly flouting the ban at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

    Breaking the rules is now set to become a statutory offence under the forthcoming Health Bill, which will be introduced later this year

    The measures will be enforced by health boards through signs and council environment wardens, who will be able to dish out fixed penalty notices of up to £1000, a Scottish Government spokesman confirmed.”
    http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/health/hospital-fines-for-smokers-flouting-ban-1-3764219

    Bother, after reading that Gilbert and Sullivan are playing in my head.

    But should it be the Mikado –

    “My object all sublime
    I shall achieve in time —
    To let the punishment fit the crime —
    The punishment fit the crime;
    And make each prisoner pent
    Unwillingly represent
    A source of innocent merriment!
    Of innocent merriment!”

    Or the Lord High Executioner?

    “Defer, defer,
    To the Lord High Executioner!
    Defer, defer,
    To the noble Lord,
    To the noble Lord High Executioner!
    Bow down, bow down,
    To the Lord High Executioner!
    Defer, defer,
    To the noble, noble Lord,
    To the High Executioner!”

    • beobrigitte says:

      Thanks, Rose!!
      Breaking the rules is now set to become a statutory offence under the forthcoming Health Bill, which will be introduced later this year

      I knew it! And I know what is coming to England, soon.

      The measures will be enforced by health boards through signs and council environment wardens, who will be able to dish out fixed penalty notices of up to £1000, a Scottish Government spokesman confirmed.”
      I believe the penalties issued to e.g. stalkers are around £60 – £500. Do I want to sit in a smoky room or do I want a stalker phoning me in the middle of the night?

      Of course these penalties can be paid off with 50p/week.

      Pub owners who do not ENFORCE the smoking ban face a penalty up to £5000; a person who (?dimly) aided a terrorist who has just blown up a huge public building at lunch time, might, if unlucky, get a prison sentence but a fine of £0.

      What surprises me is that the public has never questioned these disproportionate ‘fines’!

  5. Steven says:

    In all my lifetime and I’m 64 in a weeks time,I have never known such a poor lot of mp’s.do they not understand they are to serve us and not the other way round.i will be voting ukip simply because farage has never deviated,however unpalatable that may be for some people.he isthe only leader who believes in what he says.

  6. DP says:

    Dear Mr Davis

    Hollow men: very apt.

    We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats’ feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar

    * * *

    In this last of meeting places
    We grope together
    And avoid speech
    Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

    * * *

    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper.

    The Hollow Men
    T S Eliot 1925
    http://allpoetry.com/The-Hollow-Men

    DP

    • nisakiman says:

      Thank you for that DP. It used to be one of my favourite poems when I was younger, but I’d forgotten all about it until reading it here.

      Very apposite, too.

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    It’s potentially a very dangerous situation – a sort of vacuum – in which anyone with sufficient belief and determination can attract followers – rather like Mussolini or Hitler, who emerged out of a similar disenchanted era

    You will recall Frank it was after the progressives had destroyed the worlds systems in 1900 and set up their new world order that all the fighting began and ended in destruction yet their self built new system of banking and university and science remained in tact ie prohibition,the FED, eugenics all of it. The created it and wrote all the rules for what is todays society.

    They took over all the old universities and medical colleges that were all private.

    They created systematic sciences to back agendas and created largess high and mighty titles to push their agendas even farther. They created governments to destroy corporate owned or run anything. Unless the corporation was in the pockets of government or vice versa.

    The depression from the false economic system the created has collapsed and that’s what happened last time and its whats happened this time too………..

    That’s when we see Hitlers and Musollinis coming around and lenins……….

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      As most socialists and communists will tell anyone, economic plight is the best environment to plant the seeds of communism or socialism.

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    World Bank pension fund found investing in coal and tobacco firms against bank’s principles

    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/world-bank-pension-fund-found-investing-coal-tobacco-firms-against-banks-principles-1499582

  9. smokingscot says:

    His name’s David Miliband and he now heads up the International Rescue Committee. One of his tasks is:

    “he leads the IRC’s advocacy efforts in Washington, Geneva, Brussels and other capitals on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

    http://www.rescue.org/david-miliband

    (So helping to explain why Cameron keeps up our 0.7% to International Aid).

    Re Labour in Scotland. One reason for the so called massive swing to the nutters is on account of the fact Alistair Darling (Labour) wiped the floor with Salmond during the first referendum debate and – seemingly – helped keep us in the Union.

    For the nationalists, many of whom were staunch Labour supporters, it was akin to being stabbed in the back by a mate.

    http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/independence-referendum-debate-alistair-darling-3996478

  10. beobrigitte says:

    After all, if you don’t really believe in anything, you’re very likely to surrender to the beliefs of people who really do believe in something, however mad it might be (e.g. the “threat” posed by secondhand tobacco smoke or carbon dioxide in the atmosphere).

    Do the people who do believe in something REALLY believe in something? Anything? Or do they have some sort of non-compensated ‘Helper-syndrome’, assuming that they are in a position to ‘save’ the human race, thus will be given the RIGHT to bypass the queue at the gate of heaven, arrogantly ignoring the door man?

    I do wonder when these people will discover that tobacco is the least of the problems the human race faces. By then it’s too late and various different strains of previously ‘harmless’ bugs will do their job.
    When will they discover that man-made ‘climate change’ is nonsense? Our planet wobbles around a temperamental star to begin with. It has seen more than one ice-age in the time of it’s existence. Also, does man cause volcanoes to erupt? Or the movement of the tectonic plates?

    Sometimes I do think that we are living an equillibrium-esque world already. A world in which individual thought and questions are being punished by social exclusion.

    Confidence in the empty suits’ ‘promises’ is not really soaring – by now the Brits do know what REALLY happens AFTER election day. I can only hope that enough of them have a backbone to bring in change!!!

  11. harleyrider1978 says:
  12. harleyrider1978 says:

    Proposal to ban smoking on patios – An Attack on Small and Medium Businesses

    MONTREAL, May 5, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ – The Quebec Nightlife Association firmly rejected a proposal today by the Minister for Rehabilitation, Youth Protection and Public Health to force all bar and restaurant owners to ban smoking on their establishment’s patio.

    “The current government has promised and continues to promise to do everything in its power to help foster economic growth and job creation. This proposal goes in the exact opposite direction. Not only is it over-regulation but, if enacted, its most hurtful impact would be on small and mid-sized businesses. Tobacco companies are not the ones who would suffer from this measure, but small businesses – the same that contribute in a vital way to our economy,” said Sandy White, president of the Association.

    “We are told it’s a measure designed to protect kids, when in fact it would also apply to our members, who operate establishments serving an adult-only clientele. We are told it’s to protect non-smokers, when in fact several of our members’ patios are specifically set up and heated to cater to their smoking clientele for most of the year. We are told it’s to get rid of smoke on all patios, when in fact in several cases people will still be exposed to the smoke coming from the sidewalk and the street, without even factoring in the pollution” added Mr. White. “It’s absurd. It’s a bureaucratic, one-size-fits-all approach clearly designed by people who do not know or understand our industry.”

    The global nightlife industry represents close to two billion dollars in sales and more than 40,000 jobs in Quebec. Coupled with other areas of the hospitality industry, nightlife businesses form a critical part of a segment of the economy which represents 1.6% of Quebec’s GDP and 5.7% of all jobs in the province.
    http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1530861/proposal-to-ban-smoking-on-patios-an-attack-on-small-and-medium-businesses

  13. harleyrider1978 says:

    ATHENS—Five years into the biggest bailout of a debtor in history, Greece is closer to the brink than ever, with time running out to avert a bankruptcy that could destabilize not only the eurozone, but the global economy
    image: http://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png
    as well.

    When Europe and the International Monetary Fund first agreed to bail Greece out on May 2, 2010, the plan was to return Greece to growth and bond
    image: http://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png
    markets within three years.

    Instead, after half a decade and €245 billion ($274 billion) in promised loans, the two sides have reached an impasse. Although Greece has come close to financial
    image: http://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png
    meltdown before, the ideological divide has never been deeper.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/five-years-after-first-bailout-greece-back-on-the-brink-1430504437

    Read more at http://investmentwatchblog.com/greeces-staggering-six-year-depression/#Yx0UgrVGebV18R5P.99

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/05/06/uk-eurozone-greece-payment-idUKKBN0NR0H520150506

      Greece makes 200 million euro IMF payment due Wednesday – source

      ATHENS

      (Reuters) – Greece has made a 200-million-euro (148 million pound) interest payment to the International Monetary Fund that fell due on Wednesday, a Greek official familiar with the matter told Reuters.

      “It’s done, the money is on its way,” the official said, on condition of anonymity.

      Cash-strapped Athens is quickly running out of money while it tries to persuade euro zone partners and the IMF to extend further aid. The payment on Wednesday was not expected to be a problem for the country, but a 750 million euro payment to the IMF that falls due on May 12 is expected to be a bigger struggle.

      Frank Dungeon

  14. harleyrider1978 says:

    Kids Raised By Parents Creates Unfair Advantages, Inequality: A Consequence Of Egalitarianism

    http://wmbriggs.com/post/15898/

  15. harleyrider1978 says:

    St. Louis County Takes Down Anti-Smoking Website With Porn Link to “Hot Blonde MILF”

    http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/dailyrft/2015/05/st_louis_county_anti-smoking_webite_with_link_to_hot_blonde_milf_taken_down.php

    What some anti-smoking broke and bankrupt groups wont do to get some free publicity. No wonder IlIinois shut theirs completely down.

  16. jaxthefirst says:

    OK. A little light relief from all this Election Fever. I so liked Harley’s recent joke that here’s one in return:

    A terrible asteroid crashes into the Earth and kills everyone on the planet. Everyone’s spirit wafts up to ‘the other side,’ to be judged and greeted by St Peter at the Pearly Gates. There’s a huge queue, but everyone just has to wait.

    At last, Tony Blair reaches the front of the queue. St Peter looks down at his clipboard and says: ‘Tony Blair? OK. Down the corridor, first door on the right.’ The Pearly Gates open and Blair, looking as smug as ever, walks through, goes down the corridor and opens the appropriate door. As he steps through it, he sees a filthy bed with a toothless old crone lying on it, grimacing at him and beckoning him in. Before he can turn and run, the door slams loudly behind him, and a great voice from above says: ‘Tony Blair. You have led a wicked life. You have lied to people, caused wars and destruction, and made millions of pounds on the back of others. For your sins, your punishment is to spend the rest of eternity in this room with this old crone, servicing her needs.’

    Next in the queue is Gordon Brown. He steps forward, confident that with his good Presbyterian upbringing and his parsimonious ways he’ll easily be allowed into Heaven. ‘Gordon Brown?’ asks St Peter. ‘Your door is the second on the left.’ Brown struts down the corridor, quietly congratulating himself on being admitted so easily. He opens the second door and is confronted by the sight of two burly men, fully equipped with S&M gear, licking their lips in anticipation of the sight of him. Horrified, he stands rooted to the spot, and the voice from above booms: ‘Gordon Brown. You have led a wicked life. You brought a country whose finances were entrusted to your care to the brink of financial ruin, you bullied and abused your staff, insulted voters when you thought they weren’t listening, and generally made a mockery of the role of Prime Minister. For your sins, you will spend the rest of eternity in this room, with these men, servicing their needs.’ And the door slams shut behind him.

    Then, Deborah Arnott steps forward. She’s pretty sure that she’s got a free pass into Heaven because she’s already convinced herself that she’s a saint anyway, so she has no worries at all. St Peter consults his clipboard again: ‘Deborah Arnott? Aaah, let me see now. Oh yes, here you are – third door on the left for you.’ Arnott stalks haughtily down the corridor to the third door and opens it, to be greeted by the sight of a naked and lightly-oiled Brad Pitt reclining on a four-poster bed with satin sheets, soft music playing in the background, and with a bottle of chilled champagne on ice beside the bed. ‘Yes!’ she thinks. ‘I always knew I was perfect!’ And from above, the great voice booms: ‘Brad Pitt, you have led a wicked life …’ ”

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