Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Column, January 10, 2006

WELL the Lib-Dems have showed just how different they are from the mainstream parties by the way they treated Charles Kennedy.
That is, not different at all. In fact, when it comes to backstabbing machinations I think Machiavelli would have trouble obtaining membership because he was too much of a bleeding-heart, erm, liberal.
Kennedy’s drink problem did not seem too much of an issue when he was effectively supporting the campaigns of those Lib-Dem MPs who queued up so readily to betray him over the weekend.
And what was truly nauseating was the way they couched it in terms of concern for him, while making it perfectly clear he had to go no, straight away, don’t look back, pack your bags and go.
You wouldn’t mind so much if he was being betrayed by people who had themselves contributed one iota to the fabric of British political life.
But half the time you were left saying “Who was that?” when yet another recently-arrived Lib-Dem MP bravely turned traitor now they knew it was safe to do so.
If they are the best the Lib-Dems have to offer then the political wilderness awaits because one thing Charles Kennedy did was give them a human face. Now we know he had some all too human frailties.
One person to come out of it with his reputation intact was Lembit Opik. He was consistently and vociferously loyal throughout and at a time when politically it would have been expedient to have been unavailable for comment. That was a brave thing to do.
He is the sort of man you would want as a friend, which is as good a reason as any for wanting him to be your MP. Or your party leader.

I HAD the misfortune to get stuck in Grantham on Friday.
Not a place I would recommend to spend on a railway platform on a cold January afternoon.
Fortunately the train was uncharacteristically punctual and whisked me away and as I left I caught sight of the town centre.
There dominating the skyline was the “Isaac Newton Centre”. What’s this, perhaps I’ve misjudged, is this some school of science dedicated to the great man’s memory.
Do those who would stand on his shoulders to see yet further than he did, toil away in its halls of academia?
Only if they shop at Asda.
Yes, Isaac Newton – the man who gave us calculus, gravity and showed us what light was made of, the man who unlocked the secrets of the Universe and set us on a path to the stars – is commemorated by a shopping centre. And an ugly one at that.
Is this how these town planners and the architects who work with them get away with it? “Look we know it’s an ugly concrete stump, but Florence Nightingale once stayed in the town so we’ll call it the Nightingale Centre, who could complain about that?”
My theory is the uglier the building – the more famous and beloved the figure they will name it after. So if you hear of plans to build the Princess Di centre next door to you, time to get the For Sale sign up.

1 comment:

Aran said...

Clywch clywch, a chwarae teg i Lembit.