Friday, 21 January 2011
I catch Harriet Harman being interviewed on the Today programme and I feel such a sudden surge of anger I find myself swearing at her. I can't help asking myself why. Why? She is in the party I voted for and will probably vote for again. The subject is the appointment of Ed Balls.
What she says seems so much beyond the bounds of anything that I might consider reason or argument that it seems she must be living in a world where the only measure of success us being able to repeat the same useless thing over and over again until your interviewer gives up. Gordon Brown was the same. Just keep talking.
And this, she imagines, adds to the sum of common good.
I usually defend politicians. I am not cynical about the calling. I even think it possible that many enter politics because they they want to do good by their lights, even if their lights are not the same as mine. Because, it is of course possible that others see things differently. It's just that, if they do, I'd like them to explain what they do think.
There was no attempt to reason or explain anything in her case. What she doesn't realise - what most politicians don't realise - is that it isn't the interviewer they are trying to steamroller; it isn't the interviewer whose questions they attempt to wave away; it isn't the interviewer they are talking past and over and through.
It is me. It is us. And I, if I am representative of anyone at all, and I doubt that I speak entirely for myself, I feel nothing but contempt for them at such moments, contempt and the kind of resentment I feel we would feel if someone tried to talk that way to me in any normal circumstance. It is, in human terms, a repulsive way to behave.
It happens to be her this time, and if she is worse than most, the others of all parties do much the same. What an extraordinarily sealed world they live in.