Saturday 22 October 2016

Cameron saunters off, his country destroyed

Published 18/09/2016 | 02:30

Cartoonist: Jim Cogan
Cartoonist: Jim Cogan

In this paper last week, Samantha McCaughren reported that RTE's losses for the year will be roughly €20m, due partly to advertisers who are based in London making cuts in spending as a result of Brexit.

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One's first reaction is to hope that "Brexit" has become the successor to "9/11" as the great alibi for companies who'd be cutting things anyway, or who are otherwise trying to fool the people - many readers will remember ringing up their pension provider to enquire as to why all their money had been gambled away, to be told that it was down to various things that were mostly beyond human understanding, including "9/11".

But the effects of the Brexit vote are indeed real. They are catastrophic, and they are not to be denied, much though we would like to deny them, much though David Cameron would like to deny them as he sauntered away last week, saying that he would be stepping down as an MP.

As he spoke about his plans to "start a life outside of Westminster" - noting jauntily that "I'm only 49" - according to The Guardian "there was immediate speculation that he could make considerable sums if he followed the path of predecessors, including Tony Blair, to take corporate money from directorships, lucrative books deals, and speechmaking."

And nothing, even in The Guardian, about being left alone in the room with the bottle of whisky and the revolver - in that old, particularly British, way.

In 400 years' time - nay in 1,000 years' time - people will be astonished not just at the scale of the monstrosity which was wrought by his foolishness, but at the degeneracy of the times in which he lived, in which a prime minister could make such a grotesque error of judgement, and yet walk away a few months later to "make considerable sums".

And they will note that this same fellow had only narrowly escaped from another referendum which would have dismantled the UK with the departure of Scotland - that in itself would have made his name resonate in the annals of infamy for many centuries to come.

Yet having survived that one, with his PR man's belief that everything can be spun, everything can be sold if you pitch it right, and with the essential emptiness of his character, he gave the Brexit loonies their accursed referendum.

Now, instead of taking himself off to work quietly with the poor of the Third World as some form of atonement, he's looking at "corporate directorships and lucrative book deals".

So we could look at this as the epitome of the culture of corporate delinquency, the utterly unembarrassable nature of that ruling tribe, though given where Cameron is coming from, the words of F Scott Fitzgerald also ring true.

In The Great Gatsby, he wrote: "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy, they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."

It is that carelessness which is most damning, because Cameron is not especially stupid or ignorant. He knew that these Europhobic freaks, these "bastards" as John Major called them, had been mooching around for decades in the darker regions of the Tory Party and lately in UKIP.

He knew they were a bad lot, yet he did not have the minimum level of moral competence needed to show them the door. And protected as he was from childhood behind the high walls of privilege, he did not know enough about the country he was governing to realise that he would be releasing these primitive energies.

He was weakened too by a kind of indifference which is common to most modern leaders, a state of being best described by the comedian Frankie Boyle when he wrote that Cameron has the demeanour of "a sort of bored viceroy engaged in the handover of power from government to corporations".

Given these limitations which he happily accepted, given that he was not greatly interested in much apart from the unfettered indulgence of his friends in the City, the least that could be expected of the "bored viceroy" in his restricted domain is that he wouldn't contrive somehow to hand the keys of the Kingdom to Nigel Bastarding Farage.

But the corporations will look after him, as he looked after them, in line with their practice of recognising the most colossal failure by rewarding it on the most lavish scale - you could call it the Frankie Byrne method, the idea being that "it may not be your problem today, but it could be some day".

Outside of that cocoon, in Britain and in Ireland, and in a lot of other places where things were tricky enough already, Cameron in his carelessness has made the lives of many people much more difficult than they needed to be, and he is walking away feeling pretty good about himself - "I'm only 49".

He knows that Brexit is the only thing he'll be remembered for, that his great-great-great-grandsons at Eton will be reading about this hydra-headed debacle which unfolded on his watch.

But he'll struggle through it somehow.

Sunday Independent

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