Someone told Theresa May and all her Tory colleagues to repeat the phrase “strong and stable leadership” at every conceivable opportunity – and every inconceivable one too. Whoever it was takes a pretty dim view of the intelligence of the British electorate. It seems that dim view may, sadly, be an accurate one.
Until June 23 last year, May was a Remainer. Now she’s a gung-ho Brexiteer. How strong is that?
And how stable can any government that includes Boris Johnson really be?
What Johnson has always known – and what the coiner of that “strong and stable” soundbite knows – is the principle of the Big Lie. Say it often enough and people will believe you. And they’ll keep repeating the formula as if it was their own.
The act of calling the election we’re now facing was not strong or stable. It was entirely unnecessary. An act of weakness on several counts – as the Opposition would have made clear to all if its own leadership had been strong and stable. And if it had had a fair crack of the media whip.
The originator of and prime exponent of Big Lie theory was Adolf Hitler. He was a strong leader, stable (except perhaps mentally) for years, until he wasn’t.
Joe Stalin was a strong and stable leader for 29 years. Mao Zedong had 31 strong years – not to mention a sharper mind for the killer slogan than anyone in Tory Central Office. Robert Mugabe’s been stable since 1980 and still looks pretty strong at 93. I could go on, but you get the picture.
I’m not suggesting Theresa May resembles any of these strong men very much. It’s just rather peculiar that she apparently wants us all to think she does.
The qualities I want in a leader? Intelligence, compassion, far-sightedness, an open mind – all in shockingly short supply in today’s corridors of power.
I’ve been accused by a friend on social media of being a member of the “middle class chatterati”. I suppose it’s a fair cop. Sort of.
The crime for which this verdict was handed down? Speaking up for the BBC.
My friend is a former BBC reporter, so he should know what he’s talking about. He asked: “Does the BBC have any vision or purpose left other than to appease its mortal enemies, to whom its very existence is anathema, in a doomed attempt to protect its licence fee?”
It’s a loaded and complicated question. One answer is that the BBC news and current affairs department does indeed seem to have a purpose. And that is to elect and keep re-electing a Tory government.
It’s hard to see why else it consistently ignores Labour policies in favour of mocking the Labour leader. Or why it constantly promotes the vacuous propaganda outlined above.
It’s hard to see why it continually gives a platform to non-entities from UKIP while denying one to the Green Party – which does actually have an MP – unless it wants to shift the centre of political gravity to the right.
In all this the BBC is a national disgrace and a serious danger to democracy.
So why was I speaking up for it?
Because apart from a few sports programmes on other channels, BBC4 is about the only TV station I consistently find worth watching.
This may be how I reveal my middle-class credentials. But it’s a lot more than that. BBC4’s excellent line-up of programmes and presenters is about the only one of the myriad channels now available that actually sets out to educate viewers.
And if education is to be axed – or ceded only to the middle class – then we’re all lost.