The Sketch: Bottle those tears, Mr Blair, you might need them again soon

Click to follow
The Independent Online

What a disaster yesterday was! I got caught in the rain biking to Parliament. Absolutely soaked I was, from the knees down. Wet trousers are uniquely uncomfortable don't you find? By an odd coincidence I had to pick up a pair I'd bought in the sales that were being hemmed and - yikes, sorry, it's a statement by the Prime Minister on the tsunami. Give me a moment to arrange my features.

What a disaster yesterday was! I got caught in the rain biking to Parliament. Absolutely soaked I was, from the knees down. Wet trousers are uniquely uncomfortable don't you find? By an odd coincidence I had to pick up a pair I'd bought in the sales that were being hemmed and - yikes, sorry, it's a statement by the Prime Minister on the tsunami. Give me a moment to arrange my features.

Ah yes, the wave. The devastation of the wave. Unimaginable power. Catastrophic natural disaster. Human tragedy. Entirety of the Indian Ocean, you know. Of course you knew. Marvellous generosity of the British people. VAT offset on charity sales. "None of us will not have been moved to tears," Mr Blair told us. Tears, real, tears. None of us was not moved to them, he said.

Was that true? No. Obviously not. Should it be true? Ooh, that's difficult. There's a lot of unhappiness in the world; once you start crying it's hard to stop. But at least, you may think, we're in safe hands again? Mr Blair's providing the emotional leadership we had been lacking all the while he was on holiday? And more than that, as he pointed out, while the British public had given £100m, he had authorised the pledging "all in all" of "around £200m of British government money."

"British government money", incidentally, is how he has taken to referring to British taxpayers' money. I've never heard the expression before. It's a neologism. But rather mad: it's as though he's saying it's his money.

I think we've reached a tipping point in our relationship with the Prime Minister. A significant proportion of us - who knows how many? - suspect this "emotional leadership" to be more sentimental than emotional. What's the difference? I've been wondering about this for 40 years.

En bref : "Sentimental" is always enjoyable and it doesn't change the way you are. "Emotional" is only sometimes enjoyable, and it changes your structure.

Has the tsunami changed your structure? Maybe it has, certainly if you've lost someone you've loved. Has it changed Mr Blair's? God only knows. Perhaps. I'd hazard this guess: almost certainly not.

If the tsunami really has changed these characters, if their internal structure has been reconfigured in a way that make them yearn for justice, then they will surely now address themselves to problems they can directly affect.

They won't be sermonising about the need for good governance in Africa (something they cannot affect) but threatening to bring the European Union to its fat and creaking knees if it doesn't abolish its homicidal tariff regime. This is something they can affect. Indeed, the tariffs that keep the Third World hungry - for all the Prime Minister's lachrymosity - sit directly on their account.

So if he did shed tears over the television pictures of the wave - as he elegantly hinted - I hope he bottled them, as professional mourners used to do, in centuries gone by.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

Comments