Thursday, 31 December 2015

Perhaps not the best of years: Lord Bonkers in 2015


An article by Paddy Ashdown in which he spoke of his love of the poetry of John Donne led Lord Bonkers to remember the first Liberal Democrat leadership election:
Many though Alan Beith was the frontrunner, but Ashplant began his speech to the first hustings by looking his opponent in the eye and declaiming: 
Beith be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so. 
This was widely counted as something of a zinger, and poor Beith's campaign never recovered from the blow.

Looking forward to the general election, Lord Bonkers was confident that our leader would hold his seat:
Some reason that he has upset the student vote because, after waving that wretched pledge of his at everybody last time round, he stung them for a small fortune when he got the first whiff of power. 
However, given that the polls closed as early as 10pm, one has to question how many students actually made it into the booth to vote for him last time.

Lord Bonkers reacted to the news that the police were taking an interest in Harvey Proctor, secretary to the Duke of Rutland, in characteristically measured tones:
A quiet day on the Bonkers Hall Estate. 
In particular, I don’t have the police turning over the cottage of one of my employees – unlike another Rutland aristocrat I could mention. 
Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh my! Oh my!

The reburial of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral was beamed around the world:
I won’t pretend to have agreed with every detail of the celebrations: whilst I agree it was a nice touch to give the old boy a ride round on the Sunday, I couldn't help feeling that taking him back to the battlefield at Bosworth was a trifle tactless. Couldn't he have gone to Twycross Zoo or Foxton locks instead?

The Revd Hughes was determined to undertake missionary work among the tribes of the Upper Welland Valley:
he tells me he has arranged for a locum vicar to take Divine Service and visit the sick whilst he is away. “He’s young and keen and believes every word of the Liberal Democrat manifesto is the literal truth.” I eye him levelly: “It’s not Farron, is it?”
The next day Lord Bonkers' fears were confirmed:
It is Farron. I find him in St Asquith’s taking down the signed photograph of Leicestershire’s 1975 County Championship winning team from behind the altar. 
"Let me make a few things clear from the start," I tell him. "We are not going to sing 'Shine, Jesus, Shine,' you are not removing the pews from the church and I am not going to kiss the person next to me – unless it’s Alan Beith, of course."

Relations with Tim Farron remained a little strained:
This morning, when I pass by St Asquith’s to make sure that no more gargoyles have fallen, he stops me to ask why I insist the choirboys have rifle practice every week. 
What a question! He wouldn’t be asking it if a snap by-election were called.
And Lord Bonkers also met Alex Carlile:
"I hear you’ve been asked to serve on the committee that is going to review freedom of information legislation," I say brightly. 
He looks at me suspiciously: "Who told you that?"

As the Revd Hughes returned to St Asquith's we learnt more of Lord Bonkers' involvement in the film industry:
Today I attend the Oakham premiere of a film I helped finance: ‘Straight Outta Nick Compton’. It tells the story of an opening batsman who is unjustly treated and records the controversial single “Fuck tha Selectors” as a result. I see from its evening edition that The High Leicestershire Radical (which I happen to own) has given it five stars.
While his foreword to the new Liberator songbook referred back to the general election:
I don’t know about yours, but here in Rutland our election night party Fell a Bit Flat. It was barely past midnight when the band struck up the Dead March from ‘Saul’ and things did not get much more cheerful after that.

Complaints about 'political correctness' on The Great British Bake Off led Lord Bonkers to spill the beans on Mary Berry:
I can exclusively reveal, ‘Red Mary’ has been behind every politically motivated strike, every violent demonstration and every act of industrial sabotage in Britain for decades. And who do people imagine baked the macaroons for the Angry Brigade?

The tradition of decorating the domestic staff for Christmas was maintained at Bonkers Hall.

Lord Bonkers opens his diary to Jonathan Calder.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Is there any longer a point to the Liberal Democrats?

A question many people are asking after the rump of 8 Lib Dem MPs agreed they would all vote to prop up David Cameron's latest attempt to bomb Syria.

As a Liberator Collective colleague put it.... ' I have no idea where to start - I fluctuate from anger to despair.  Even if you put the arguments about Syria themselves to one side...'.  And on the basis of the tests by which the Lib Dems said they would decide whether or not to back air strikes in Syria, they have absolutely not been met.  In particular, there is no post-Daesh plan that would even fill the back of a fag packet, and no sign of British efforts to lead an international diplomatic consensus.

Both Farron and Clegg have changed their tune in barely two months.  Take Clegg (no - please, please do.  Preferably to his natural home.) In October he wrote in the Evening Standard that 'dropping bombs on a country without a workable military approach on the ground made little strategic sense.  On the substance on which we based our collective decision in 2014, nothing has changed. If anything, the evolving circumstances make air strikes less justified. All there is on the ground in Syria is chaos, blood and anger. We would simply be throwing more bombs into a furnace..... playing catch-up with other people’s bombing raids is hardly the most effective way of doing so.'  Yesterday he jumped the gun on the whole party by blurting out to Sky that it would back the Tories, as if he were still leader.  I am told that colleagues were furious.  My response is that his behaviour is at least consistent for him.

The damage to the Liberal Democrats, however, is political.  "The Conservatives... with support from the DUP and the Liberal Democrats..." is what the media will record of today's debate and vote.  The toxic accusation that the Liberal Democrats are simply propping up the Tories will still apply.  Not a single Lib Dem MP is recognising that almost three to one Lib Dem members currently, as it stands, oppose action at this stage; the party is the only one (apart from the DUP) whose name is absent from the counter-proposal on the order papers today.  While we should not be fooled by claims about the late Charles Kennedy's actions in 2003, the public will see the Liberal Democrats trashing the political legacy on intervention and Iraq, while backing action that repeats the same mistakes.

It seems Liberal Democrat MPs have learned nothing of the mistakes of action in Iraq and more recently Libya; nothing of their mistakes from the Coalition Parliament; and have understood nothing of the gaping chasm in opinion between them and the party members that have worked hard to get them elected.  The reaction of those members - many of whom didn't receive a single email from the party on how it would approach the issue - is of utter dismay.

It is no surprise so many party members are asking: what's the point?