Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Political Elite's God-Given Right To Rip You Off: Orwell Prize debate

OK, hangover gone.

For a great account of the Orwell Prize debate, 'Have the political classes been fatally weakened?', at Thursday's shortlist event, see Laurie at Penny Red.

It was a truly flesh-crawling example of how skewed and corrupt is the mentality of these people who are running and ruining our lives.

I will just add to Laurie's report that Meg Russell (Deputy Director, UCL Constitution Unit, whatever the hell Oxbridge bootboy/girl club that is) also told us that, regarding the expenses scandal, the public was wrong to call the MPs' – ahem – misdemeanours "crimes", because only a few of them technically broke the law. Well, who made those laws in the first place? Like a true bureaucrat, she was nit-picking over the definition of "crime", rather than addressing what they actually did. As long as it's in triplicate it must be true.

She flapped so pathetically over the witty "Wanted" posters portraying greedy MPs as felons on the run that I feared the poor thing might need smelling salts. To her delicate sensibilities, this mockery of the powerful was worse than the original rip-off. As Helena Kennedy observed, she had no sense of humour. Which authoritarians do? To mangle a quote from Russell Brand, the lack of nuance is the hallmark of the despot.

Meg also insulted the audience, saying that it had been proved that we'd have all done the same if we were in the politicians' position. What utter fuckry is this? Why is the not-so-intelligent intelligentsia trying to naturalise such warping of human relations? I hope you never get the chance to put that thieving mentality into practice, Meg, There should be special cells in Holloway and Pentonville reserved for those who abuse high office to pillage the public purse.

In Meg's world, though, no-one should be accountable. Power should be given full rein to feed us shit-sandwiches and we'd have to say, "Yummy!". The words, "Thank you, baas," after each kicking — such sweet music to their ears — would be made mandatory.

I did like Helena Kennedy, though. She said that poor Meg had gone native. Mixing with the movers and shakers who flattered her and made her feel important, of course she made excuses for them. Helena finished by saying that Labour should get back in and start acting like a left party. And at that I whooped. Even though I know they won't.

Debate: Has the political class been fatally weakened?
Panel: David Halpern, Helena Kennedy, Cristina Odone, Meg Russell, Jodie Ginsberg (chair)

Watch the debate here