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

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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

 

General Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk