Sunday, 10 January 2010
The January Plot
In thinking about last week’s ‘coup that never was’, or Dismal Gordon’s storm in a tea cup, I’m brought back yet again to the You Tube parodies of this government based on the German movie Der Untergang-Downfall-depicting the last days of Hitler. Some of you, I’m sure, have seen these, but for those who have not I’ve posted an example below.
Yes, this started as a joke but once again life, political life, really is imitating art. This government, in a state of irreversible decline, is beginning to demonstrate some of the features, some of the byzantine manoeuvres that accompanied the fall of the Third Reich. There is Adolf Brown with his ‘bunker mentality’, surrounded by cronies like Martin Bormann, sorry, Ed Balls Bormann, continually reassuring the desperate Fuehrer.
Meanwhile, somewhere off stage, Hermann Miliband and Heinrich Harperson have their own agendas, looking to their own futures, the future beyond the Reich. Yes, they came to the support of Adolf after those patsies Hoon and Hewitt made such a dreadful mess of the January Plot, but with levels of enthusiasm slightly less than underwhelming.
The wonderful thing about the January Plot was the insight it gave to the mentality, the treachery and the self-serving hypocrisy of the members of this present cabinet. It revealed, as one Labour MP wrote, incompetence, on one hand, and self-delusion, on the other. It also revealed, I would add, preening ambition only held in check by practical cowardice.
Look at David Miliband, the last best hope of the Blairite vision. He clearly understands that the government is walking to a lemming-like fate with Brown in charge, he is clearly desperate for the job…and he is just as clearly a man with no backbone, not a Heseltine, to use his own words. Did you see that picture of him Friday’s Daily Telegraph, the one where he is waving a banana? A perfect image, I thought, the one that seemed to sum up his fatuous character best. As Philip Johnston said in the accompanying article (What a way to run a coup) he and his brother, Ed, are convinced that they are ‘towering figures’ in the Labour Cabinet, when they appear to outsiders as decidedly second-rate compared with the figures of the past. At the Labour Conference in 2007, his first as Foreign Secretary, he announced that “The world can be a scary place”, this from a man who stands in an office once occupied by the likes of Palmerston. Indeed, a party lacking in both talent and ambition
Gordon Brown, ‘the best man for the job’, survived, his grin survived, looking weaker and sillier than ever, promising to ‘run a more inclusive and harmonious cabinet’ in future. I thought we had heard this before. Never mind; ‘inclusive’ and ‘harmonious’ are not words that immediately come to mind here. Divided, mendacious, scared and hopeless would fit so much better, have a greater approximation to the truth, a truth that we who are not deluded can clearly see.
Hitler gathers his leading satraps in the Bunker. It’s April 1945. “Goering, Himmler, Bormann, Speer, Goebbels”, he announces “in future I shall lead a more harmonious Reich.” Meanwhile, the muffled thuds of the Russian shells can be heard in the distance.