Just about the only edifying aspect of the Parliamentary expenses scandal to have emerged thus far has been the news that Kenneth Clarke has been caught up in it. I sense that the photograph attached to that link rather captures something of the spirit of the man.
Mr. Clarke is a fat old reactionary whose disdain for the treason laws should have made him a figure of public suspicion many years ago. He has been an agitator for pan-Europeanism par excellence, and is perhaps the paradigm of a Thatcher era Tory appointed to the board of a public company on an enormous salary when their CV might suggest little relevant commercial experience.
It is hopefully not the case that he is one of those good old fashioned Tories who cling to the belief that free trade and a flexible labour market are good for thee, but not for me.
Mr. Clarke seems to have benefited from a Jesuitical interpretation of the laws concerning the payment of council tax, a burden which has increased enormously in recent years for those deemed liable to pay it, of a type which would give Jesuits a bad name. Mr. Clarke has produced a typically rumbustious defence; after all, he is a 'bruiser', a 'big beast', perhaps even the type of difficult old man who thinks that They Ask The Tough Questions To Which They Expect Straight Answers.
There is an object lesson in humility to be learned here; Ask Not The Tough Questions To Which You Expect Straight Answers, Or Ye Shall Have Tough Questions To Which Straight Answers Are Expected Asked Of You.
Denis MacShane, the Europhile Labour MP for Rotherham who might be just about the only Member of Parliament ever to have their constituency's problems highlighted in public by Dolly Parton, has today published eneuretic commentaries in both the 'Guardian' and 'The Daily Telegraph' telling people not to vote for the British National Party at the elections to the European Parliament to be held in June. My membership of UKIP having lapsed unrenewed, holding no brief for the BNP and really now being more interested in gaining eternal life in the next world rather than in the crap that goes on in this one, I'm probably not going to vote in them at all - indeed, I'm coming round to the belief that Voters Anonymous, an organisation dedicated to helping those addicted to democracy overcome their demons, would be a marvellous idea.
Yet if the BNP flourishes in June, it will be for one reason only - they offer policies that differ from the mono-ideology served up as stale fare by both the envy gang and the greedy gang. Unmandated pan-Europeanism is the starter, main course and dessert on both their menus. If UPE ends up in the toilet as a result of this, well and good. It has been an insult to the people.
It might even flush Kenneth Clarke's political career, long past its sell-by date, away with it. We live in hope.