Two old men meet in a pub, me and the Founding Father of Voice of the North, David Banks. Actually, we didn’t, because we were 300 miles apart, one in Godzone, the other in Oxford. But, had we actually been together in Milfield’s Red Lion, staring moodily into our pints and mulling over the parlous state of our democracy, I think our conversation might have gone like this.
Bernard It’s bad, isn’t it? In fact, it stinks.
Bansky Well, the electric’s been off for the last couple of days, and my power shower doesn’t work.
Bernard Not that. You know what I mean. Politics. Parliament. Government. Party-gate. Cover-ups. Lies. Boris.
Banksy I didn’t vote for him.
Bernard Neither did I. I’m a wishy-washy centrist, while you lean a little further to the left (though not as far, I reckon, as you like to make out): but we both know a charlatan when we see him.
Banksy I thought you were going to tell me off for not writing anything for Voice of the North recently.
Bernard Ordinarily, I would. But I think we’re both too dispirited to write about it. Besides, there’s already enough vitriol swirling around the Internet: what would we do but add to it?
Banksy In any case, it’s almost impossible to be funny about it. What’s going on now is beyond satire: even seeing and hearing Tory yes-men (and women) tie themselves in knots trying to defend the indefensible has stopped being amusing. Incompetence and dishonesty aren’t actually all that comical.
Bernard I’ve an old mate from my days of running schools. John Claughton, a classicist by training (they know how to express things succinctly) was Chief Master of the very prestigious King Edward’s School in Birmingham and for many years a near-neighbour. On Twitter (@ClaughtonJohn) he frequently finds an apt quote to describe current fiascos drawn from a classical historian bewailing the excesses and abuses of Roman emperors. Most recently, though, he simply commented that if, as a school head, he’d allowed such wrongdoing to go on in his school, let alone participated, let alone lied about it afterwards, his governors would have demanded his resignation – and got it.
Same goes for me and mine. But not, apparently, for this country’s Prime Minister, nor for his cabinet and his other spineless cronies who lie, cheat, prevaricate and allow the reputation of the Mother of Parliaments to be dragged into the mire.
Banksy gazes grumpily into his beer, takes a long draught and a deep breath and begins to speak…
But what pearls of wisdom fall from the lips of the Eminent Editor? You’ll just have to watch this space.