A few weeks ago, I was watching the rugby from New Zealand. The home side had been in a bad run and was losing. A commentator I like said that if they lose this one, the only sound you will hear will be that of knives being sharpened.
I thought of that when switching from the BBC to CNN to Bloomberg to Al Jazeera near the end of the counting for the English election yesterday. I never watch these things – what’s the point of speculating when the results are in and we are just waiting for the counting house to announce? – but I watched this lot for an hour or two because the Poms are much better at politics than us – after all, they invented this version, and they have at least some people whom you would not be ashamed to let through your front door.
I was appalled at the rudeness and downright cruelty of a couple of the BBC operatives. They were part of a grizzly apparatus that had got things badly wrong about what might happen at this election. The results were tsunami like for two or three parties, and three leaders fell on their swords. All those who were defeated spoke with calm decency. One appalling jerk of a commentator was salivating at the prospect of rubbing it in, especially to the Lib Dems. This would have been about 5 or 6 am, and I don’t know whether the problem was that that is the time he normally takes his first G and T. Another on-site anchor rudely brushed aside another Lib-Dem grandee. It was revolting to watch – it was not just unprofessional, but maliciously cruel.
I had thought that there was a convention that on these occasions people behave and forget the rough-house bullshit that we normally get. Well, not so for some at the BBC yesterday. This is a very public kind of judgment day. The course of peoples’ lives is changed as are their hopes for the nation. You are going bad when politicians put you to shame. And they were mocking people from two parties who at least some may have thought were being punished for having acted in the national interest – the Lib Dems for going into government and getting some of what they wanted, and the Labour Party for joining in the opposition to northern secession. The Liberal Party there has a very long and strong name and history – they are so much better than the drongos here – but all that meant nothing to one or two of the hyenas on show yesterday on the BBC. The British may be more forgiving when they get used to multi-party coalitions.
As it is, the PM has a wafer-thin majority for a party that is loathed north of the border and he just got one seat there – and he will have about fifty Scots at Westminster who do not want to be there at all, and a great deal more in his party who do not want to be in Europe. The Scots look to be seeking the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages – all power and no responsibility. Some of these issues of substance were touched on at the BBC, but the blood and guts held a lot more attention. Mr Cameron now faces a difficult holding process after a bitter campaign of fear and division. Did we lend him one of our political hit-men?
There were some very nasty moments, and the BBC should be ashamed of itself. If the English politics and press fall to Australian levels, they are in deep trouble.