The tradition is that on a Saturday I generally do a weekend links post. Frankly, there's so little worth linking to today, with probably this and this as honourable exceptions, that there isn't much point.
The other intention I had was that as part of the usual end of year, or in this case end of decade baloney, I was going to name the person of the decade as Katie Price, aka Jordan, for reasons you can probably guess. Then I noticed that Joan Collins in the Daily Mail did almost precisely that, calling her the non-entity of the decade. That is ever so slightly rich on two levels: Joan Collins is only notable these days for marrying numerous times, and secondly that she made her point in a newspaper which currently has the latest antics of said Katie Price as its top story on the Femail pages. If the very newspapers that perpetuate the likes of Katie Price suddenly stopped giving them attention, they'd soon fall from view. True, by the same yardstick an insignificant little nothing like me can be accused of hypocrisy for calling someone else the epitome of almost everything that was wrong with the last decade in cultural terms when I've hardly contributed to the wealth of the nation, but I like to think I don't contribute the same level of poison into the national spirit as the Daily Mail does every day.
I've spent some of the last week or so watching a load of old Have I Got News For Yous on YouTube, and it is instructive just how quickly we forget. Peter Oborne in the Mail today for example, and he's usually quite good, bemoans the "moral decline". I was only 13 in 1997 and even I can remember back then the usual suspects saying exactly the same thing, just as I remember the "Back to Basics" desperation which Major had come out with a couple of years previous. This naturally drove the gutter press on to expose as many adulterous MPs as they could, and there sure were a lot; we also now know that the prime minister himself, even if his affair with Edwina Currie had finished some time previously, had given in to the temptations of the flesh. Oborne goes on to complain:
For Cameron it is more complex. New Labour brilliantly used the capture of political power in 1997 to establish the dominance of the liberal Left across vast swathes of public life.
It now has key placemen and women in the civil service, the voluntary sector, the legal profession, the arts world, the intelligence services, the BBC and the quango state which has passed outside democratic control and yet controls so much of our public life.
These quangos are run, almost without exception, by New Labour placemen.
And were things any different back under Major? No, the quangos then, even if there were fewer, were also almost uniquely ran by Tory placemen, often the wives of Tory MPs. Will Cameron actually cut them as he promises, or will he just install his own placemen? You can bet it's more likely to be the latter. Already we've seen Boris Johnson trying to put in place Veronica Wadley, ex-editor of the Evening Standard and whom cheered him to his ascension as London mayor as chair of the London Arts Council.
As usual though, Oborne is nothing as compared to Amanda Platell, who's finally decided after years of criticising immigration to actually become a British citizen herself (complete with low-cut Union Jack dress, something she has previously criticised others for wearing). Her vision of British society and how as a selfless gesture she's becoming a citizen mainly so she can save the nation from itself is so different from mine that it's clear that we may as well live in completely separate countries. This is her summary of the best of what we have to offer:
The only areas where Britain excels - indeed, we're top in Europe - are drunkenness, drug addiction and teenage pregnancy.
Yet the nation which the Mail and the others are always encouraging us to look towards - America - is about the only other place that has a worse record on certainly the latter and more than likely on the other two as well. And she complains:
Today, too often, crude vulgarity prevails on our TV screens and on the street.
Nothing, naturally about when "crude vulgarity" appears in our national newspapers. Such as when a certain Amanda Platell blamed "equality" when a young woman tragically fell into a river while on a skiing holiday and died, for which the Mail eventually had to print a "clarification" letter from one of her friends about. And could this Amanda Platell that is always banging on about how essential marriage is possibly be the one that admits in the opening of today's piece that her husband departed long ago? No, of course not.
I don't have a rose-tinted view of the country as it stands. Certainly, things could be a whole lot better; we have after all probably just came through possibly one of the worst decades, if not in living standards but in general unpleasantness and misery for quite some considerable time. To read the Mail and some other people though you'd think that the country was about to completely fall apart, or already had, that society had also broken down entirely and that the only good, decent people left, the middle class naturally, are too scared and threatened by what's going on around them that they daren't leave their houses. The police are politically correct loonies, except of course when they're shooting dead Brazilians who look like Asians and beating the shit out of peaceful protesters; the entire country, despite being ruled by decidedly conservative with both small-c and capital C individuals for the last 30 years is a liberalocracy where you can't say anything for fear of being branded either a racist or a homophobe or a bigot or a sexist, and to cap it all, the economy's gone up the spout, even though the obvious thing to happen after the longest boom in at least a hundred years was a lengthy bust. We can rejoice though: here comes Cameron's Conservatives, ready to mend our fractured land, as demonstrated by him mouthing cliché after cliché in an especially fatuous Sun article.
Here then is my highly controversial prediction for what the next decade holds: much, much more of the same old shit. Regardless of who wins the next election, by the time it's their turn to be ousted from power, everyone regardless of political affiliation, including Oborne and Platell will be saying exactly the same things about how rotten the country is. And yet again, they'll be wrong.
Labels: 2009, 2009 review, Amanda Platell, Peter Oborne, politics, weekend, weekend links, weekend round-up