+It is useful in times like these to refer to George Orwell when it comes to deciphering political statements. So in her remarks today when she referred to her sacking of Kwasi Kwarteng, our PM Liz Thick said she was terribly sorry to lose him as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was a friend, they shared the same ambition: growth. But she sacked him anyway. In other words, she was sorry for herself that she found herself in this position—finding that in politics there are no such things as friends when scapegoats are needed. Perhaps Kwasi will get a sympathetic phone call from Peter Mandelson who was sacked twice and so knows the limits of ‘friendship’ in politics.
+There’s a very interesting piece in the current London Review of Books by Long Ling, a government official in Beijing and a Communist Party member. She describes the straightjacket of thought which CP members must adhere to, with a detailed examination of the brainwashing they must undergo to progress in Chinese society. This process revolves around learning the profound theories of Xi Jinping, theories which have been elevated to the same status as Mao’s equally profound thinking and are as equally mind-numbing. China can’t be far behind North Korea in its mind-controlling instincts. But I wonder how deeply this effort permeates. After all, Mao could change his mind about what was the right thing to do as often as changing his theoretical underwear (if not his actual tunic) and everything would have to change to follow suit, which suggests a degree of fickleness—credulity- on the part of the population which with a different leader could be harnessed for quite opposite objectives. In other words, commitment to a cause can only be superficially ingrained by rote, just as commitment to The Leader will not be any deeper because his (nearly always his) portrait appears on every street corner.
In a mild way these thoughts drift into our situation. It is de rigueur for Conservative Party offices up and down the land to display a portrait of their dear leader, presumably to enthuse local party activists into a frenzy of activity. Barely have they taken down Boris and put up Liz Thick before they’ll need a new portrait of whomever is coming next. Xi Jinping would no doubt be amused by the fluidity of our ’democracy’ but if I were privileged to whisper in his ear, I would merely say: Saddam. His picture was everywhere. Now it’s nowhere. Ditto innumerable others. All those leaders who thought saying ‘repeat after me’ was sufficient—hubris got them all in the end.
Burbling along with this theme a moment longer, we’ll soon see pictures of our new King hanging in Council chambers and other official locations across the land, replacing Her Maj. I bet there will be a bit of reluctance to let her go, not least given the replacement. And unlike all the pictures of Queenie, when she was perpetually portrayed in her blessed middle age (a bit like Brezhnev) Charles comes to us as an old man. The psychological impact of this portrait change could be significant. Perhaps Charles will have to learn a few lessons about the cult of personality, although hopefully that won’t go so far as teaching our schoolkids, a la Xi Jinping, what Charles’s Theory of the Crystallisation of the Experience and Collective Wisdom of the Monarchy means for us all.