Friday, 7 August 2009

Relax: our politicians are staying focused

Conditions are hard today and, at this time of summer holidays in Europe, I sometimes worry that our leaders may not be paying sufficient attention to the problems that beset us. So it’s a great relief to find that many politicians are still performing to their usual fine standards.

In France, for example, the government has taken stock of the tragic conditions afflicting Africa. So it has come up with a proposal equal to the challenges of war, disease and hunger the peoples of that continent face. France is planning to provide Africa with a televised Bingo game. Or possibly a lottery. Alain Joyandet, Minister for Overseas Development, claims this could ‘sensitise the population’ to the need to alleviate poverty. Presumably, sensitivity to poverty was a quality lacking among the peoples of Mali, Mauritania and Guinea until he brought enlightenment on his recent visit. The initiative might generate €10 million a year, a welcome addition to the $25 billion the Continent now receives annually in aid.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, our amusing Mayor of London, has shown how false it is to accuse him of inaction, on the grounds that he has failed to carry out campaign pledges such as building new rape crisis centres in the city. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and London was not equipped with rape crisis centres in a year.

Boris lives in one of the more select areas of town, Islington. Naturally. Apparently he isn’t satisfied with the comforts provided by his elegant and stately house, so he recently built a garden shed on the balcony. Sadly, the historic qualities and beauty of the building meant he should have obtained planning permission first, something he failed to do, perhaps distracted by the task of running the authority responsible for planning throughout London. Islington Council demanded he remove what unkind neighbours saw as an eyesore. Johnson acquiesced with grace, as his spokesman made clear: ‘The mayor is grateful to Islington council for their advice on this matter. The shed has been taken down.’

A ‘do-little Mayor’, as some critics allege? Far from it. He does. And then he undoes.

But of course, as usual these days, it’s Italy that leads the way in Europe. The Northern League campaigns ceaselessly in defence of the rights of the noble inhabitants of the North, against the encroachment of lesser peoples such as Southerners, foreigners or people with a darker complexion. The League is a member of the Berlusconi coalition, for whose government most of us find it difficult to find too much praise. Or indeed any praise at all.

The League’s latest initiative is to demand an amendment to the Constitution to give the flags of the Italian regions the same status as the national red-white-green tricolour. The failure of the Constitution to do so is, we are told, an ‘intolerable omission’. Let’s hope they get their way. Then a northern Italian who loses his job will at least know that on the demonstration he subsequently joins, he will be able to wave his regional flag in the certainty that it will be taken just as seriously as the national one.

It’s refreshing, and comforting, to know that great minds still occupy the pinnacles of our nations. And that in a time of recession and uncertainty, their possessors are working tirelessly to keep a proper perspective on things.


Davide said...

On a slightly related note: I couldn't help but notice that just as the politicians are mostly on their holidays, all the economic indicators are looking better than they have in a long time. Coincidence?

David Beeson said...

Brilliant comment! Danielle added the thought that many of the journalists are on leave too, which may also be a factor...