If there was something rotten in the State of Denmark then there is certainly something that is rotten at the heart of British politics and society.
This week the former Tory treasurer Lord Ashcroft has lifted the lid on the dustbin of British politics. What the public feared lurked within, he appears to have uncovered.
But the number one creature to emerge blinking into the sunlight, I am afraid, is the Lord Ashcroft himself.
I found Lord Aschroft’s thirst for revenge distasteful to a degree. That anyone would spend thousands if not millions of pounds only to dig the dirt (does Cameron emerge from the unauthorised biography with any redeeming features?) I personally find morally reprehensible. Ashcroft cannot be a man who wants to do good. The fact that his book is a personal vendetta against the PM is what fundamentally discredits it.
I may be naïve but what sense of entitlement makes anyone believe that the commitment (of money and time) to a cause – which I presume he believed the election of the Conservative Party to be – warrants a return favour? More fool him, though he is far from the only fool in our cash for preferment political system. It should serve as a lesson to all those other wannabes
And outside the schadenfreude enjoyed in the Westminster village as a result of the Daily Mail’s lurid revelations, Lord Ashcroft’s sally into investigative journalism will have done nothing improve his image in the public eye.
In Shakespearean plays, a character who hates or plots against the King (in this case a PM) is almost automatically the villain of the piece. And so it will be with Ashcroft. He has cast himself as obsessively unpleasant, not a defender of virtue or wisdom.
Only time will tell whether the greater good has been served by exposing his ‘leader’s’ weaknesses and failings to the public glare. So far nothing in the juicy extracts published have been denied. And do we not deserve to know them? Do we not need to know about the character and shortcomings of the man who leads the country?
But is there really anything in the snippets (selected by the Daily Mail for their maximum impact) that we didn’t know? Were we not aware of the extent of the dismay of the defence establishment, not just at the Cameron Government’s brutal and short-sighted defence cuts, but also at his lack of grasp of Middle East complexities and conflicts?
In defence of Ashcroft, and the free speech and free market society that readers of this site stand for, yes his book does confirm our worst fears about David Cameron – lightweight, superficial and surrounded by a limited and morally vacuous clique going back to school days.
What an apologist for Mr Cameron could argue in rebuttal is this: in what way does a desire to mix with likeminded people, enjoy holidays or have limited grasp of international affairs distinguish him from his predecessors?
Were we better off with Gordon Brown – a purported intellectual heavyweight? Or with Tony Blair, who was partial to the good life himself too – in his case as the guest of very rich ‘suck up friends’. At least Cameron turned his back on Ashcroft.
But this is not about comparisons, I hear you say, this is about one David Cameron. And just like the majority of his European counterparts, our PM appears have a poor grip on the crises that confront us; not least the uncontrolled tide of global migration heading towards Germany, Sweden and the UK, inevitably disrupting the countries through which it passes.
Whether this lack of grip – you might call it a lack of urgency too – has anything to do with the louche, amoral and spiritually void company Cameron keeps – if there is truth in the Ashcroft account – who knows? Churchill’s friends were not always salubrious
But their values (or lack of them) had not then percolated down through society. They were not shared and promoted on the contemporary equivalents of Coronation Street and Eastenders. Today the easy morality of the “Chipping Snorton” set is all over the mass media and a sense of entitlement is common to all.
The truth is however much chippy Conservatives or Labour’s class warfare antagonists deny it, Cameron’s values pretty much reflect theirs – the values of UK Plc.
The bottom line is that we have the Prime Minister we deserve. The spiritual and moral void in him resides in the entire political class and in the society it represents: the society that unthinkingly approves gay marriage without regard to the consequences; the society that believes it is entitled to a 30-hour week, foreign holidays to be paid for by a living wage whatever that means; the society that that thinks everyone has a right to go to university and that students are demeaned by stacking shelves; the society in which par excellence the public sector no longer serves the public but itself.
Ashcroft’s revelations – if indeed they are – demonstrate one thing. It is that we are now reaping what we have sown. I could say, ‘A plague on both your houses”.