THE SKETCH: A soldierly sort gives PM grief over Ozzy comes to grief over Ozzy's accident Blair spends a lot of time grieving these days
The Independent's parliamentary sketch writer and columnist since 2000, Simon Carr was described by Tony Blair as "the most vicious sketch writer working in Britain today". "Poison," said Charles Clarke. In the 1980s he helped launch The Independent, and was a speech writer for the prime minister of New Zealand from 1992 to 1994. His working principle is "Indignation keeps us young."
Thursday 03 February 2005
He grieves a lot these days, it's surprising he gets anything else done. Maybe you can process grief more efficiently if you practise. Perhaps he's got a book: Ten Grieving Tips For Busy People.
When you're Prime Minister so much time is taken up providing the tools to allow people to choose the skills programmes to fulfil their potential in community partnerships and lifelong learning.
There's not the luxury to spend looking at the wall and folding and refolding your hands wondering why your son died. There's not the leisure to remember your little one as a five-year-old going "Bang! Bang!" in the back garden, or pushing him around in a wheel barrow on summer evenings. Julian Brazier is a gangling, good-hearted, soldierly sort of fellow. He referred to these servicemen who'd given their lives so that elections might be held in Iraq. He asked the Prime Minister why "when he'd found time to drop a line to Ozzy Osbourne who fell off his quad bike" he hadn't found time to write to or visit any of these aforementioned families. The words "Ozzy Osbourne" were very effective in this context. As were "quad bike".
"I'm sorry he makes that point in those terms," the Prime Minister replied, provoking an odd, snorting noise from parts of his audience.
"We grieve for the families," he went on, "we give them every support, everyone in this House does. That is the case for myself."
Well, not quite every support. American families are to get half a million dollars for their bereavement. Here, Mr Brazier suggested, they don't get so much as a visit from a cabinet minister. Maybe the Government doesn't want "to intrude on their grief". But then nothing's ever prevented them intruding before, there must be another explanation.
The elections were "truly heart-warming", Mr Blair answered another question. The turnout "disproved the theory that somehow there are people somewhere who don't want to live in a democracy". We were back into Mr Blair's moral totalitarianism. "Our values aren't Labour values, or Western values," he says fervently, "they are universal human values!" This is misleading the House. There is only one value that is universal to humanity and it makes us all recoil from the smell of shit (there are evolutionary reasons for that).
But however some of us recoil from Mr Blair's "universal values" the rhetoric is more significant than it might appear. If he can carry off this flourish and make a political proposition out of his universal values, he will have the apparatus to do something really surprising. Like invade Africa for its own good.
Perhaps we shouldn't stop him. He'd enjoy it very much, and it's always nice to see the Prime Minister's happy face.
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