Matthew Parris today:
For me, Thomas Á Becket and Canterbury Cathedral spring to mind. I picture an infuriated Prime Minister bellowing at a flat-screen television: “Will nobody rid me of these troublesome leaks?” Who the four knights were who took it upon themselves to act upon the presumed wishes of a maddened monarch, we may never know, but when Mr Brown insists that he didn’t actually know, it is possible to believe him.
Just what I was thinking. And just like Henry II before him, Gordon Brown will have to carry the can for this, and suffer whatever is now the equivalent of an annual public flogging. Constant references to this from now on in the history books, is my guess. For the point is that although Ministerial and Prime Ministerial protestations of ignorance about this absurd outrage may be true, Ministers and the Prime Minister have spent the last decade creating the atmosphere within which “anti-terrorist” policemen would indeed come to think that such conduct as arresting an opposition politician is some kind of duty.
Coincidentally, and perhaps I’m wrong to defy Godwin’s Law but I’ll do it anyway, I have recently been reading this book (more from me in connection with it here), which concerns the various big decisions taken between 1940 and 1941 by the various war leaders: Britain resists, Roosevelt helps Britain, Stalin decides that Hitler won’t invade Russia, Hitler invades Russia, Japan attacks USA, Hitler declares war on USA, that kind of thing. The final one is: Hitler decides to murder the Jews. And in that horrifically more portentous matter you get the same thing, of Hitler not being personally pinnable down with anything like exact foreknowledge of this or that particular burst of slaughter. Nothing was ever put into writing and signed Adolf Hitler. But he was responsible nevertheless, because he created the atmosphere within which his underlings did their worst. He set the tone.
Well, now, in this by comparison farcical little episode, Gordon Brown set the tone, and lesser creatures went to work. And I’m very glad it has happened. During my adult lifetime, I have watched politicians get cleverer and cleverer at enacting policies not by announcing them, debating them, and then doing them, but by just doing them, a little bit at a time, slice by slice, with no one slice being big enough to unite the potential opposition, but the resulting dish nevertheless amounting to a huge and often deeply disagreeable change. Think: EU. In such an atmosphere, you actually cheer when, emboldened by the silence that greets the usual and thin kind of slice, they instead make a grab for a much thicker slice. For suddenly it is clear to all what went on, and what has been going on for a decade and more.
What the hell? Why don’t we just arrest the bastard and do him over for a few hours? Who the hell f—ing cares who Damian f—ing Green is? Yeah, go for it. Time these f—ers learned their f—ing lesson.
Yes, comparisons with Hitler are over-dramatic, as are the more common comparisons being made now in all the other pieces like this one being scribbled and blogged by all the other no-name scribblers and bloggers like me, with Robert Mugabe’s hideous misrule of Zimbabwe. Matthew Parris mentions them in his piece, quoted above, noting their oddity yet ubiquity, but not ridiculing them any more than I do. For that is what goes on at the very bottom of the slippery slope we are on here. Those are the comparisons that spring to mind, even as you realise that they are out of all proportion. They go to to kind of deed this was, to its dramatic structure, so to speak, even if the scale and intensity of this particular deed was trivial by comparison.
As far as Damian Green was concerned, this has been wonderful. He is probably now having more fun than he ever has before or ever will again. And yes, it is Damian and not Damien. Who knew? Not me, until today.
I include references to f—ing and f—ers very deliberately. That our rulers now swear a lot more than they used to is all part of that atmosphere, that tone, that they have been so busily creating. It is an atmosphere in which there are now so many laws, and laws which are so sweeping in their scope, that all are now guilty. The law simplifies down to the question: do they like you? If they really really do not like you, look out, they’ll come for, and find or make up the laws they need as they go along. That a front bench politician has been, very publicly, on the receiving end of this parody of the idea of law is cause not for rage and more swearing, but for rejoicing.