In politics, 'I deeply regret' is not the same as 'I am sorry'. Ahead of the French elections, Christopher Prendergast considers the relation of François Fillon's campaign to the political language of regret.
In the ten hour long House of Commons debate last week on the government’s motion to authorise bombing raids in Syria, there was one speech that took the House by storm, triggering a standing ovation and a rapturous reception in the press, where there was much talk of the speaker, Hilary Benn, as the next leader of the Labour Party and a Prime Minister in waiting. This essay by Christopher Prendergast takes a more sceptical view of the speech, dissecting it largely from the point of view of its appeal to ‘internationalism’ and more particularly the example of the Spanish Civil War, in which his father fought and very nearly died.
The Nasty Party is back. By this, Christopher Prendergast means the Disaffected Labour Party, the gaggle of MP’s, former ministers, shadow ministers, superannuated grandees, spinmeisters and hacks, collectively throwing their toys out of the pram over the prospect and then the actuality of the Jeremy Corbyn election. Prendergast takes the Trident issue, a debate over the UKs nuclear submarines, as an angle to look at the current state of the Labour party.
The Bullingdon Club is back in the news. The Oxford Student recently ran a story about a student who was admitted to the club only after an initiation ceremony which allegedly included burning a £50 note in front of a tramp. The publication of the story generated a lot of huffing and puffing about its reliability and its source (a third party). More generally, toff-bashing seems to have lost its allure. It is felt to be in political bad taste, an expression of the ‘politics of envy’.