i Editor's Letter: Today's politicians


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The Independent Online


Today's politicians fall over themselves to appear "down with the peeps", partly because they think there are votes in it, and partly because if they don't they risk being pilloried as posh-boy Tories or champagne socialists.

It's why we had that undignified scramble after last year's Budget as party leaders raced to prove they were pasty devotees; why Tony Blair got into a muddle over whether he had seen Newcastle's legendary Jackie Milburn playing in the flesh; and why Gordon Brown said he liked the Arctic Monkeys. David Cameron even got a ticking off from guitar legend Johnny Marr over the PM's oft-stated penchant for The Smiths.

But these are contrived situations, hanging on to the coat-tails of a name, hoping to garner credibility through association. It is much more revealing when polticians break free of their minders' shackles to actually speak, if not from the heart, then off the cuff.

Hence IDS's daft claim that he could live on £53 "if I had to", and the very revealing nightmare of the millionaire Tory party chairman Grant Shapps and his "my boys share a room" defence on bedroom tax, apparently oblivious to the insulting nature of such a claim when his boys only share in his four-bedroom house because he uses another room as a study. And he could buy bigger if he chose.

Then there are the dangers of Twitter's egalitarianism. Witness George Osborne tweeting "great game" about the dreary Chelsea vs Man Utd encounter yesterday. Osborne's a Chelsea fan? Of course he is. Forget his taste for Byron over Greggs. Never mind the bedroom tax. Doesn't he know there's only one team in Fulham! COYW!