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Legendary and Stupefying: “Indiscretions” of…

Tawfiq Chahboune


Many politicians and Alastair Campbell say things or do things that will haunt them until their dying breath. These so-called clangers, I can reveal, are the distorted sayings and doings of men and women of complete integrity and vast intellect, whose erudite insights have been misconstrued for nefarious gain by cynics hostile to the public good. It would be absurd to think, as many do, that these “mistakes” (and in some cases fictional creations by perverts masquerading as journalists) by honourable people are the results of simpletons, bigots, nutters or very stupid people with terrible brain-mouth coordination, who are holding posts far beyond their abilities and making unwise decisions. These booboos, for that is what they clearly are, can be put into the following classes.


1. Driven round the bend up the wall and into a straitjacket. Willie Whitelaw’s incredible claim that “Most houses offer reasonable protection against radioactive fallout from nuclear explosions” can be reasonably dismissed as the outburst of someone still recovering from the shock of Margaret Thatcher’s public announcement that she desires, nay covets, his, ahem, Member for Cockshire. The Thatch, before a watching world, looked the poor Willie in the eye, as it were, and told him in no uncertain terms: “Every prime minister needs a Willie” (translation: I mean to have your one, chum).


Harold Wilson’s tragicomic disclosure to two puzzled journalists: “I see myself as a big fat spider in the corner of the room. I might tell you to go to the Charing Cross Road and kick a blind man. That blind man may tell you something, lead you somewhere.” This sad decline to a mad arachnid-metamorphosis was, however, the result of something sinister: fascist elements within MI5 had been planning to overthrow democracy in the UK (see Peter Wright’s Spycatcher). The goose-stepping spooks having seen their dreams come true in the shape of the Iron (Cross?) Lady’s election in 1979 decided to go back to their day jobs and scare the bejesus out of badly dressed trade unionists instead. A reasonable lot, the Ray Ban-clad Oxbridge freaks, I’d say.


2. Devoid of crucial information. Paul Boateng’s far-fetched cry: “Today Brent South, tomorrow Soweto!” was simply the result of bad geography: Boateng thought Soweto stood for Southwest Tottenham, not Southwest Township in Johannesburg.


Diane Abbott was bereft of vital visual data when denouncing her son’s school as having too many black children. The data being that her son is black and so is she.


3. Words taken out of context, misunderstood or misheard. Alan Clarke: “The Fuhrer was ahead of his time in so many things like the genetic need for racial purity.” And furthermore, “I [am] a Nazi…completely committed to the whole philosophy. The blood and the violence was an essential ingredient of its strength, the heroic tradition of cruelty.” This was taken completely out of context by mischievous loony lefties. What Clarke obviously meant was that he is not a Nazi and not an admirer of a philosophy bent on the extermination of whole races. Though he didn’t say that, that is obviously what he meant.


The most egregious example of words taken out of context was that of the radical liberal teetotaller Sir Nicholas Fairbairn. Old Nick’s helpful comments before the House of Commons: “Putting your penis into another man’s arsehole is a perverse…” How else to explain these injudicious words from the honorary president of Outrage!?


Jack Straw’s words, like Clark’s, were wilfully misunderstood by those determined to make the Shakespeare of political oratory look rather silly. When Straw’s words were finally translated from his first language, mumbling, it was thought that “Mumbles” Straw had told a BBC journalist to “fuck off”, after being asked some impertinent questions about some funny, irrelevant place called Iraq. I can exclusively reveal, as those wits (twits?) in the tabloid press would say, that Mumbles had in fact said: “You wouldn’t happen to have any gobstoppers? I like to have ten in my mouth at any one time. It is the optimum number.” All too easy to confuse with “fuck off”.


Lastly, and what can only be described as a classic miscarriage of justice and a newspaper simply making things up, a then unknown Alistair Campbell seemingly boasted in an interview to The Sun in May 1980, who were doing a feature on male prostitutes, that he himself worked as a male prostitute, selling sex to the desperate (and very sick): “they were gagging for it” and he “was providing it”, he bragged. It goes without saying that what he actually meant was that he was not a male whore and was not “providing it” for those inexplicably “gagging for it” from him. It’s all too easy for a Sun “journalist” to confuse “I am” a male prostitute with “I am not” a male prostitute. Having not worked as a “provider”, Campbell went on to “write” for Forum magazine under the deliciously stupid name of Riviera Gigolo. At this pornographic magazine, the man of integrity, and whose “reputation” is beyond reproach, unknowingly wrote pornography. In no time at all, the “provider” became “political editor” - a job description curiously identical to that at Forum - at what was rumoured to be another demeaning publication. It was known as the Mirror, and was owned by the champion yachtsman and swimmer Robert Maxwell, who had a very large pension (32,000 pensions, amounting to £400 million, to be precise).


Many years later a “dossier” was handed to the man who was not a prostitute by a suspicious man going by the name of Tony Blair. The sinister Blair asked Campbell to make it a tad racier, to rid it of all “the intelligence”. Campbell unknowingly reverted to his Riviera Gigolo days and imagined the central character, a certain Saddam Hussein, as a moustachioed stud, and wrote an unforgettable script, now known as the “dodgy dossier”. Here we learnt that Mr Hussein wanted some “big ones” and “massive bazookas”, that he wanted to “dominate” all in his path - women, men, no matter, they were all fresh meat for the insatiable Mr H - with his “biological and chemical weapon of mass destruction” and, most ominous of all, he was “coming”. Strangely, this dossier caused a war. As coincidence would have it, Campbell decided to leave his job at the same time the whole of Britain was united in the ridiculous belief that he was one of the greatest liars to have ever lived. “You‘re a quitter not a provider,” joked Peter “also known as Simony” Mandelson.


4. Being Neil Kinnock. Neil Kinnock was unfortunately born into the body of Neil Kinnock and was the sad recipient of the mind of Neil Kinnock. The astronomic improbability of this double whammy occurring was only knocked off the medal tables for impossibility when Kinnock grasped defeat from the jaws of victory in the 1992 general election: “Well aaaaalright, well aaaaalright,” cried the sole member of the John Major Appreciation Society, thus alienating as many wavering voters as is humanly possible and thus “bloody kebabed” himself, without the help of the succinct Jim Naughtie, a very funny regular on the double act known as the “Today” Comedy Programme. In 2004 Kinnock, doing a very funny impersonation of a demented hyena (that is, a toe-curling false laugh), explained his Sheffield outburst with the characteristic coherence we have come to admire him for: “I did what any rock n’ roll singer would do”. Kinnock, after a long and heroic fight, has finally been consumed in totality by the curse of Neil Kinnock: he has been a successful double agent for UKIP without knowing it. No one else has made the EU more unpopular in the UK than the man who recently admitted that he believes he is “Elvis”. This probably explains his handling of the EU’s casino-like finances: Brussels and Las Vegas look almost identical.


5. Far-sighted decisions. On the face of it, the most magnificently bonkers political decision in modern times was John Major’s calling of the 1997 general election. The greatest journalist of his generation, Paul Foot, described it thus: “Legendary and stupefying was the crassness of John Major, but his supreme achievement was to select May Day, the traditional day of celebration for the international labour movement, as the time when the British people, after five more grim years of Tory rule, were finally allowed to go to the polls.” And, one might add, ensure near annihilation of the Tories as a political force for more than a decade. Foot obviously could not see Major’s visionary strategy. (Foot was infected with that wholly disagreeable British disease of belittling Britain’s most brilliant sons. Not content with being the sole recipient of this yobbo behaviour, Foot passed on this disgraceful sneering at the best of what Blighty has to offer to Auberon Waugh and the rest of his chums. They thought it amusing to poke fun at someone as distinguished and decent as Jonathan Aitken. How wrong they were! Thankfully, Aitken had a shield of something and a sword of something else to fight the something or other.)


Major’s strategy, however, contrary to Foot’s baseless insinuations that it was foolhardy, has merely been too profound to be understood. That it is profound cannot be questioned; what it meant has yet to be deciphered. We are left with two choices. 1. Major possesses deific powers of far-sightedness and whose “mysterious way” and “wonders to perform” cannot be understood by, well, anyone. 2. He is non compos mentis. The second choice is clearly preposterous. Thus, by reductio ad absurdum – or just by absurdum? – Major is not only god-like but in fact is (Hallelujah! Eureka! Stopthisatonceyoufool!)…dare I say it?  


A ministerial post held alternately by Jeffrey Archer and Mark Thatcher, in a new Ministry of Information, must be created to control the flow of information that makes politicians look as dumb as stumps, mad or bigoted, and to eradicate the info (ejected into something known as a memory hole) if necessary. Mr Archer (or, as he is known in heaven, King Solomon II) and Mr Thatcher (strangely known as “mastermind” by fantasist public schoolboy coup plotters he has, of course, never met) are the only people who can be invested of this delicate task and trusted to not misuse it. Nurse, my medication!   



June 2005


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