As an internationally renowned blogger I often get stopped in the street and asked: “so, Mambo, who’s your all-time favourite politician? You’re a man full of the milk of human kindness. You never have a bad word to say about anyone. But there must be someone you admire over all others?”
To which I reply: “well, my good man/woman, thank you. Your kind words mean the world to me, they really do. And you ask a perfectly valid question. But there are so many to choose from that it hardly seems appropriate to pick just one out.”
Now the cynical amongst you might right now be thinking “fucking Walter Mitty” but you’re wrong. I do get acclaimed everywhere I go.
And there lies a serious point behind my charming anecdote.
And that point is that I absolutely hate the self-styled ‘maverick’ Labour MP Frank Field.
He’s the most dour, charmless and boring man imaginable and politically exceedingly unimaginative, if I was being charitable in labelling his philosophy and beliefs. And if I was being uncharitable, well, you get the picture, if you’ve perused these pages previously.
Often proclaimed one of the Tories ‘favourite’ Labour MPs, he ‘s considered ‘sensible’ and ‘moderate’, but simultaneously ‘trenchant,’ ‘capable of thinking the unthinkable’ a student of ‘new thinking’, a ‘radical’ and he is forever being feted by the right wing press. And to be fair, he’s got that pained, embittered and misanthropic look about him that so many working class Tories have.
Now of course if he actually did possess all the characteristics he has had ascribed to him he would probably be a psychotic. And maybe he is. After all, he did tell once Tony Blair that he was so great that warranted a seat in Blair’s cabinet.
But he is the recipient of all these fawning labels simply because he is extremely right wing.
So when he is indulging in ‘new thinking’ it normally means he is advocating the restoration of national service. What a brilliant plan! Why haven’t we gone and done it already?!
When he is being ‘radical’ or a ‘maverick’ it means sitting on the board of a right-wing think tank that wants to take us back to the Victorian era or supporting whatever nauseating cause the religious right are banging on about at any given moment. Yep, radical.
Interestingly though, his radicalism and talent for thinking the unthinkable never leads this supposedly intellectually voracious man to embrace ideas that would really set him apart from the political mainstream. He’s a maverick in the way that Mariella Frostrup is a maverick. And nothing like as yummy.
And when he was/is being ‘sensible’ and ‘moderate’, he was supporting a witch-hunt against the Labour left or he is agreeing with the Tories on….well…everything, as far as I can see. Although he pointedly refuses to cross the floor to join them it is unclear why, as it would appear to be his natural home politically. Maybe he’s just worried about losing his seat and all the privileges that brings.
Now in his defence, and even-handedness is a trait that the Mambo never fails to be guilty of, he isn’t all bad. He does some decent work on climate change and human trafficking, a disgracefully under-reported international scandal.
But all people have their good points and the good causes he fights are hardly controversial ones. Everyone has at least one redeeming feature, apart from Max Barrett someone I can’t name.
So Mambo, I hear you cry, why have turned your fire on this man at this moment? Well to be honest, I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to stick the boot into the guy for a while but have lacked the appropriate pretext. And to be even more honest I’m still lacking that pretext, unless you think his latest article in the Guardian is a crime against humanity and not just a rather irritating exercise in unbearably smug, self-righteous pontificating.
I can’t stand people who say they want to ‘take the politics out of’ something, it’s just meaningless, anti-intellectual, cheap, conceited, populist shit. “Look at me, I’m trying to change things all by myself but I’m the only one being sensible and serious”, even though even a child could see that pensions are an innately, inescapably political issue.
The level of pension is a political choice.
The retirement age is a political choice.
Whether people should be extensively or partially supported by the state, or simply left to fend for themselves, is a political choice.
The notion that pensions are a ticking timebomb, and not one that could be solved by society choosing to spread its wealth around more equally, is a political one.
Field’s self-serving definition of an ‘apolitical’ approach to pensions will conveniently be a set of ideas that chimes exactly with his approach to pensions.
Normally this would be point where I would finish by having a highly satirical dig at Field based around the headline of the aforementioned article, along the lines of taking himself out of politics, or taking himself out with a shotgun, clawhammer or whatever instrument of death I found amusing.
But I won’t. I’ll keep my powder dry for another day.