Is it just me, or are Canadian politics dull and uninspiring? I’m in London getting a close-up of the blood sport known as politics in the U.K. It makes what we do in Canada look like Nerf politics.
It’s political convention season in England. Add an upcoming national election (May 6, 2010), and the likely prospect hapless Gordon Brown and Labour will be swept by David Cameron and his new, improved Tories, and the frenzy is fevered. The fever is frenzied? Works either way.
Last week, PM Brown tried to storm off a TV set when the host asked if he was on meds.
Sadly, his dramatic exit was thwarted by a lapel mike so he had to sit down and get unhooked.
Then came treachery from former ally Rupert Murdoch, whose Sun, the biggest paper in the U.K., declared for Cameron and his Tories: “Labour’s Lost It!”roared the traitorous tab, causing a union leader to tear up a copy on the convention stage.
Then you have internecine warfare as Cameron fights off a challenge from fellow Tory and “euroskeptic” Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, who wants a referendum on the European Union, mainly because Labour arch-fiend Tony Blair could end up as the president of the EU at the precise moment the Tories ascend to power.
And the media! Even on a bad day — complicated by wedgies — Canadian ink-stained wretches don’t come close to the savage punditry displayed by the Brits on an “ordinary” day.
These guys make you gasp. Imagine a Canadian calling the cabinet “morons, sleazeballs and incompetents” as did the Telegraph’s Simon Heffer. Or if Globe cartoonist Brian Gable had drawn Michael Ignatieff sporting bared breasts, as the Times did to David Cameron, under the title “Tory party conference pinup”, with the caption: “Cameron enjoys the Sun but he has his knockers”.
These U.K. media jackals may be crude, but they are invariably clever. And there are so many of them. Here, at least, there are no long lines of unemployed pundits. So every point of view is expressed … and expressed … and expressed.
The net effect is engaging. Politics matter almost as much as the soccer scores. People believe politicians can still be accountable, and the media aren’t completely cowed. When was the last time someone asked a Canadian politician if he/she was on meds?
The net effect is also inspiring. Canadian morons, sleazeballs and incompetents, take note.