Alexei Sayle: The World According to Me

'These days I slink in alleys swigging Co-op whisky and sneering at orphans - and it's all New Labour's fault'

Share

This week, two of those most closely connected with the New Labour project - David Blunkett and Alastair Campbell - have chosen to speak about the psychological trauma they suffered while in office. The trouble is, I find it extremely difficult to be convinced of the honesty of their motives. Since 1997 there have been so many examples of questionable goings-on from this Government, starting with the Dome and the Bernie Ecclestone affair and running through to the current disastrous war in Iraq and the cash-for-peerages investigation, that anybody connected with the Government has lost all credibility. Indeed, the examples of misbehaviour have been so numerous that the public has forgotten a lot of these scandals; who now remembers the outrage over Charles Clarke interfering with the Cornish pasties in the window of Gregg's in Watford High Street or the newspaper revelations that Ruth Kelly was once a member of the sexy dance troupe Hot Gossip?

More disturbing than that though is the fact that because of all this controversy many of us have become cynical about all politics and politicians. I distinctly remember that before the May '97 election I was a happy-go-lucky individual who picked wild flowers for a hobby, who loved kittens and the Labour Party and whose only criticism of the parliamentary digest Hansard was that it didn't have cartoons. These days I slink in dark alleys swigging Co-op own-brand whisky and sneering at orphans, and it's all New Labour's fault.

Because of my disenchantment, I remained particularly unseduced when Alastair Campbell was all over the media earlier in the week, recounting his experience of depression while working at Number 10. He said that despite suffering feelings of overwhelming sadness and crippling lethargy he was fortunately able to carry on doing his job - his job of spinning and manipulating. In none of the accounts I saw was there a hint that his depression might actually have been caused by all the spinning and manipulating he was doing.

Yet this is certainly a possibility Alastair should consider. Mental pain can in some cases perform the same function as physical pain, so just as physical pain exists to tell you that it might not be a good idea to play tennis or go dancing with a broken leg, so mental pain - depression or anxiety - exists to tell you it might not be a good idea to play handmaiden to the most demented, vainglorious and deluded prime minister in recent history.

I truly believe that the mind is a wonderful and moral thing, and if we behave in ways that are wrong for us or are wrong for others then it alerts us to this behaviour in the only way it can, which is to give us pain. Of course, we can distract ourselves from this pain in a number of ways, with drink or drugs, with exercise or shopping, with sex or the adulation of others, but it will always be there, gnawing away at the back of our consciousness, and it will never be silenced. If you think about it, the existence of this watchful, moral mind goes a long way towards explaining the otherwise inexplicable, demented behaviour of so many people in public life; those individuals who seem to have everything, yet act as if they are the most miserable people on earth, addicted to plastic surgery, meaningless affairs, ceaseless work and expensive consumer goods that they instantly tire of.

I was reminded of this cause and effect when I read of the decision taken a while back by BAE Systems to sell its 20 per cent stake in Airbus, the European civil aircraft manufacturer, to concentrate solely on making so-called "defence" equipment, which means missiles, bombs, military jets etc that it hopes will make it more profits. In fact, BAE Systems has insisted on selling its stake in Airbus even though it could not do so at a worse possible time due to the fact that the price of shares in EADS (the parent company of Airbus) has collapsed because of mismanagement in the A380 super-jumbo project.

Yet even though it will get nothing like the amount it expected for its shares, the British company just can't wait to get out of the business of manufacturing the wings of nice aeroplanes that take people on their holidays so that it can instead concentrate on making munitions devised solely to kill and mutilate and the vehicles designed to deliver them. I thought to myself what a horrible world we live in, where a company can take a decision like this without even beginning to address the moral issues it raises. You might think just from an idea of decency that BAE Systems would feel it'd be better off producing nice things rather than nasty things, but that is not the macho business model we follow in this country.

Nonetheless, if my belief in the watchful and moral mind is correct, then the BAE Systems executives who took this decision will, in time at least, pay a high price for their greed and callousness. In a few years' time, stories will start to appear about some senior executive appearing strung up by spikes through his ears on a sadomasochistic website and another being arrested for being drunk and depressed in charge of a ship-to-shore missile system and being stopped only after he's taken out the Southampton branch of Starbucks, which he's developed a huge resentment against because he feels they served him a stale muffin.

Tracey Emin is away

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ice skating in George Square, Glasgow  

How many Christmas cards have you sent this year?

Simon Kelner
 

Al-Sweady Inquiry: An exercise in greed that blights the lives of brave soldiers

Richard Kemp
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up
A Greek island - yours for the price of a London flat

A sun-kissed island - yours for the price of a London flat

Cash-strapped Greeks are selling off their slices of paradise
Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence

Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys

He is a musician of wondrous oddity. He is on a perpetual quest to seek the lost tribes of the Welsh diaspora. Just don't ask Gruff Rhys if he's a national treasure...