Lamont must be put out of his misery

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The Independent Online
THE international community has been plunged into confusion by John Major's refusal to give Norman Lamont a happy and merciful release from his painful condition. Most experts feel Mr Lamont's sufferingover the past few days - if not weeks and months - has been so great that it seems an act of unparalleled callousness not to give him the quick and easy way out. Yet still there is no sign from the people who are looking after Mr Lamont that this will happen.

'I can't imagine why they persist in prolonging Mr Lamont's suffering and, in turn, ours,' says Dr Vernon Pool, an expert on institutional stress disease. 'For months, all the classic symptoms have been there.'

What sort of symptoms?

'Mental confusion, primarily. First of all, poor Mr Lamont has persisted in saying for years that the recession is over when it is obvious to everyone except him that it is getting worse.

'As if that weren't bad enough, he has also been saying for years that we are right to be in the ERM and that nothing would persuade him to take us out. Now he says it is wrong to be in, and has taken us out. But he says that it is right to go back in, and as soon as things are favourable, back in we will go. In other words, he can no longer tell right from wrong. Basically he is totally disoriented. To put it another way, he doesn't know if he is coming or going. Or, as we say in the medical profession, the lights are on but there's nobody at home.

'You may also have noticed that he is spending vast sums of money to which, apparently, he feels he is entitled. Last week he spent - what was it? - pounds 50bn or some such. When asked what he was up to, he smiled his eerie smile and said he was protecting the pound. A few days later he was no longer protecting the pound. He was saying the pound could float free. But what happened to those billions of pounds he spent? No one dares ask him, and he seems not to remember it.

'To make it all even more dangerous, Mr Lamont now claims his actions last week were governed by common sense.'

What is so dangerous about that?

'With an ordinary person, nothing perhaps. But there can be no clearer sign of derangement among politicians than an appeal to common sense. It is almost second nature for a politician to explain his actions in terms of policies - 'We are sticking to our policy . . . We shall not lose sight of our policy now, just when it is starting to work', and so on.

'To forget all this and to say you are acting from common sense shows that your conditioning, your mental make-up, has suddenly been stripped away like a coat, and that you are psychologically naked.

'It is a very dangerous state. That's why I say that the time has now come for a quick and merciful release.'

Dr Pool, who has always supported the concept of political euthanasia, says when a person is given a quick release from political life it is often enough to cure the patient, and points to those such as John Profumo and Jeffrey Archer, who seem to have regained a degree of usefulness after the operation, even if the trick does not seem to have worked with Margaret Thatcher who, after her mercifully quick release a couple of years ago, never quite seems to have regained her grasp of reality and still has to be looked after by a constant retinue.

'Political euthanasia, you understand, is the exact opposite of medical euthanasia. Medical euthanasia comes about when the patient wants to be released from his or her misery, whether it coincides with the wishes of the nearest and dearest or not. Political euthanasia most often occurs when the patient is the only one who is not praying for a quick release.

'It is almost unknown for the politician to ask for a quick release. In Mr Lamont's case, he quite clearly thinks he can valuably carry on. The fact that everyone else thinks he should be eased out painlessly to end his suffering has no effect on his thinking.'

Everyone, it seems, except Mr Major.

'Yes. Mr Major refuses to give his consent for Mr Lamont's political life system to be switched off. It is pure callousness. Unless . . .'

Unless what?

'Unless Mr Major perhaps has a presentiment that he, too, one day soon will be in the same situation, and is showing a hope now that nobody pulls the plug on him then.'

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