Robben Island Kitsch

Gordon Brown has written a book on courageous people. A serious book.

Contrasts with certain other politicians are invidious, but intelligent people are forced to make them: as Ian Jack asks the Chancellor ‘The prime minister does Catherine Tate impersonations. You write a serious book. Do you think that seriousness of purpose will work [for you, as politician] in a society that really loves trivia?’ I echo Mr Jack: let us hope that Gordon Brown’s selflessness pays off for him.

The courageous people include Aung San Suu Kyi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.  

…Dissolve to ‘The Office’ Christmas Special:
David Brent, displaying newly-purchased black dog to staff: ‘I’ve called him… Nelson.’ (Looks significantly at Oliver, sole black person present.)
Oliver: ‘Yes, er…. After Lord Nelson. Good choice of name, David.’
David Brent: ‘No. ‘(Voice cracks a little with emotion; looks even more significantly at Oliver.) ‘Nelson…Mandela. A great leader of his people’.

I’ve always thought that Gervais and Merchant were thinking of the old Second World War flag-waving movie ‘The Dambusters’ when they wrote that scene. ‘David would want to call it that. First thing he’d think of. ‘ ‘Yes, but even he would realise that’s too much nowadays. And he has to convince the the laydeez he’s a caring and politically aware kind of bloke’. ‘But he still looks at a black labrador and thinks of the N-word….I’ve got it.’

Raoul Wallenberg is in the book too, so that’s the Holocaust angle covered, necessary in all contemporary exercises in ostentatious moral seriousness. Gandhi isn’t, so that a certain Chancellor won’t have a recent speech on the splendours of the British Empire thrown back in his face.

Oddly enough there’s nothing on politicians who vote for wars that they don’t actually believe in, in order to stay in office, or indeed on politicians who resign from office rather than vote for such wars. There’s also nothing on any soldiers- from, say, the war against Nazism, not to mention from any more recent conflicts.  Edith Cavell gets in from the First World War, so we cover a lot of bases: Gordon can send out a nice feminine vibe, wrap himself in the Union Flag and yet not conjure up thoughts of those nasty uniformed people who are solely  responsible for the current state of Mesopotamia. 

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