First familial visitations, then Hogmanay in Edinburgh. Result: an absence of blogging.
So, to the recent scrapbook.
Bell’s own caption-comment takes that into the sublime:
This cartoon marked a turning point, in that I’d been trying out various ways of doing Cameron, from man boobs through to jellyfish, and this seemed a natural development. It said a great deal about his smoothness, but opened up a lot of new, symbolic and rubbery possibilities. By way of a bonus, Cameron does not favour the depiction. He came up to me at a Spectator party at the Tory conference in October, and asked me how long I was going to carrry on with it, before advising me: “You can only push a condom so far”.
Far more shocking is the spectacle of Cameron and Osborne’s unabashed, barefaced and premeditated mendacity. Begin with the great broad questions about which they so reassured voters. Three days before the election, Cameron said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, “any cabinet minister … who comes to me and says ‘Here are my plans’ and they involve frontline reductions, they’ll be sent straight back to their department to go away and think again”. Yet £81bn in cuts now rain down on frontline services.
Would VAT rise? A month before the election, Cameron said: “Our plans involve cutting wasteful spending … our plans don’t involve an increase in VAT.”
As for the NHS, “We will stop top-down reorganisations of the NHS,” said the coalition agreement, yet now what health secretary Andrew Lansley calls his “revolution” rolls in. The coalition promise that “we will guarantee that health spending increases in real terms” has gone the same way. Two months before the election, Cameron eulogised universal child benefit: “I wouldn’t change child benefit, I wouldn’t means test it, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” On education maintenance allowances, Michael Gove said, just before the election: “Ed Balls keeps saying that we are committed to scrapping EMA. I have never said this. We won’t.” On tax credits, the promise was to cut them only for families on £50,000, but the budget book shows families with an income of just £30,000 lose all credits. Liam Fox promised “a bigger army for a safer Britain“, but it now loses 7,000 soldiers.
A Scottish Presbyterian man is headed for a new life in Australia when his ship hits an uncharted reef and sinks. Alone of all the passengers and crew he survives the wreck and swims to a little uninhabited island. Twenty years later another liner is blown off course by another storm and onto the same reef. This time a handful of survivors make it into a lifeboat and they row themselves to the Scotsman’s island.
He greets them warmly and takes them on a tour of their new home. They soon realise he has worked hard to create a comfortable, civilised life for himself.
‘This is my house — complete with running water,’ he says, walking them past a well-built timber building with a roof of palm leaves.
‘Here’s my garden and my vegetable plot,’ he says, smiling broadly. ‘I can grow fruit as well, anything I want — the climate is so wonderful.’
‘And over there — slung between two palm trees — is my hammock, where I like to watch the sun set each evening.’
One of the survivors takes a minute to gaze around and then poijnts to a stone building on a nearby hill.
‘And what’s that?’ he asks.
‘Oh, that’s my church,’ says the Scotsman.
Another survivor points to an almost identical building right beside the first one.
‘And that?’ he asks.
“That?’ says the Scotsman. ‘Oh … that’s the church I don’t go to.’
You almost have to be a Scot to get the joke.