Some observations on last night’s Leaders Debate and the comments on it pouring in from every hand….
Annie, challenged by Maddy to stop shouting at the radio and to phone in instead, did so, and I think made a creditable showing for herself as a radio virgin (of course I’m prejudiced), her points being poignant ones on the matter of personalities versus policies and statistics versus the reality on the street. There were of course many statistics in the TV debate – oh, there goes another! – and all seven of the guys were so impressively well-versed I can only assume they had all had a chip implanted (perhaps even the same one, since the statistics, I thought, were seldom challenged). Even Natalie Bennet, yes, who incidentally got my thumbs-up despite her unwary excursion into the matter of the mass-extinctions of – what? plants and animals? – come on, Nat, let’s get real & deal with important matters….) I notice the many comments on how impressive the three women were compared with the men, and the assumption from this that they were impressive because they were women. I had to wonder though if it wasn’t rather that they were the ones who were not connected with the Westminster parliament – that institution forged in the wake of bloody wars between the great houses of England, brought into being by the new generation which sought to rival those great houses, and empowered as England was preparing to tear itself apart in a new kind of Civil War and thereafter to export bloody war to all corners of the globe…. I ask myself, as I’ve often asked myself before, why we have anything to do with this boys’ scrummage which is supposedly the heart of our political life in Britain?
That aside, I have another reservation about our concept of democracy. The way we understand democracy, certain people propose “policies” which are supposed to make “our” life better (“us” being us-in-Britain if your name’s Nigel Farage, and us-and-some-other-people-further-afield if you’re called something more decent). If we like the sound of those policies we vote for the person proposing them. If this person gets enough votes we reward him/her by putting him/her into “power”, that power being limited only by the occasional reminder that he/she is supposed to be the people’s representative. So if we equate power with reward, what sort of morality, I wonder, are we subscribing to? Is power good? Do we like the kind of person who “wants power”? Do we approve of them? As far as I’ve gathered in our local electioneering excursions not many people do approve of them. So what are we doing with them? Putting them up on a podium and then throwing coconuts at them? What is it we want to do, give some people responsibility so that we need to have none, or give people power so that – oh yes, that would be for the same reason…. I have to say, looking at those Leaders on TV last night, I saw seven guys who, with extensive training or without it, had screwed themselves up to get in front of an audience and say some stuff that, now or at some former time in their lives, they (had) believed in. Good on them, most of us wouldn’t like to do that, either out of genuine modesty or out of straightforward terror. I don’t know what the answer is here: I don’t think our version of democracy is It, though I’d like to think I’ll find it before I die – by Sod’s Law I suppose I’ll be too dottled by then for me or anyone else to give credence to my conclusion.
I do apologise for my runaway tongue, this wasn’t supposed to be a blog but a short introduction to a couple of poems. The first is me taking my customary slightly longer view of things, as well as making the closest approximation to a tribute to a politician that you’ll get out of me. In the second I suppose I’d better explain that Mr I and Mr Dowdy are my pet names for the two old Chinese classics, or ching, that still represent some of humanity’s best attempts at getting things right. Their “buddies” I hope speak for themselves.
When kings were made out of the rocks
and bishops out of the trunks
of living trees, when there were
judges among the clouds and discrimination
and equality embodied in the waters
we were there, and we were there
as it was taken from us piece by piece and
sickness came stalking over the continents.
Wee Ma Scotland, where’s there’s almost
nowhere further for the Empire to reach
come, it’s time to start rolling
it back towards its source, a sickness
millennia from embryo to full disclosure
a thousand years can only be a start
if it’s to be undone, but a thousand
years has to start somewhere –
why not in the hands
of one small woman
her head barely visible
above the table-top
her wry smile, almost
secretive I would call it
most that I remember of her.
A Thought for all Spring Bridesmaids
Madame Ontop first kicked me
in the balls then slated me
for my poor performance, before
unzipping the whole gamut of degradations
foisted on women. Wept. I slunk out
with nothing but the tail between
my legs, Christ (thinking) if both
the spirit’s bearers and its nourishers fall
into such low repute, the bulwarks are all
but gone. Fine then! she spat after me.
Ah Mr I, Mr Dowdy, and all
your other buddies forged, hatched out
on the high spine of the world
did you believe the mothers who bore you
would finish up with lasting honour?
Huh, not so wise now, I think.
Ten thousand generations
this jewel was carried forward –
look at it now: not even glass
a chunk of scratched costumery.
Bodies that once had wings
to open and close the chest
windpipe, tongue and mouth
that gave a voice to the wind
voice to the wind….
Do you hear that? it’s coming this way
it has no dimensions, breadth
nor depth, no taste, no noise
it’s so gentle, lifts you so easily
nothing can hurt any more.
The tsunami of stupid won’t abate
till every worthwhile thing
of humanity is mulched
into scum floating
on the face of the deep
and don’t doubt that such detritus
will be composed of bodies
forged in the wombs of women
thereafter repudiated by nothing
but their own ineffable incompetence.