Politics: we need men, not boys!

Something is rotten in the state of British politics, says David Thomas. Our leaders have neither the experience nor policies to equip them for the struggles ahead – not least because they’re too young

Just what infuriates you most about the people who purport to lead our country today? Could it be the rocket-proof shield of smugness and condescension that surrounds David Cameron?

Is it the immaturity, irresponsibility and absence of any consistent principle with which Nick Clegg gives us his ‘new kind of politics’?

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Is there no one in political life who has the guts to act like a grown-up?

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Perhaps the drab, nasal tones of Ed Miliband; his ruthless ditching of the politics he supported as a Labour Cabinet member; his cold-blooded backstabbing of his own brother and his calculated marriage give you that sick-in-the-mouth feeling.

Or maybe it’s their loyal lieutenants who make the skin crawl: the horrible Tory-Boy gloating of George Gideon Oliver Osborne; or that hardboiled apparatchik Ed Balls, the loyal crony to Gordon Brown through all those plot-filled years of bitterness and bullying.

I honestly can’t think of a more loathsome all-party chamber of horrors. There’s no one, absolutely no one, to whom one can look for any real leadership, inspiration or even simple charm.

Real battles

Perhaps the years of Wilson and Heath were equally grim. Certainly the consequences for Britain were. But there were at least real battles being fought and real principles being aired as we lurched into the 20-year struggle between Thatcherite Right and Militant Left for political domination.

These were battles fought by grown-ups: men and women who’d been around, held down proper jobs and in many cases fought for their country. What we have now are spats between overgrown babies: apple-cheeked, smooth-browed kidadults.

Youth is a great quality in fashion models, footballers and pop stars; less so in politicians. At a time when the population is getting older and when the seriousness of the challenges facing the UK – and the West as a whole – demand maturity, determination, perspective, strength of will and calmness of mind, we are governed by spoiled brats whose policies twist and turn with every new headline or focus group.

They are Tony Blair’s political children, sincere believers that there is something a little old-fashioned about genuine conviction; devoted disciples of the creed that the job of a leader is to follow what his people think they want, rather than state his intentions and stick to them.

The worst of it is, they are as identical and interchangeable as Ken-dolls. And just as plastic, too.

Cocooned from reality

Just look at the common denominators. Cameron, Clegg and Balls were all born between October 1966 and February 1967. Miliband and Osborne were born in 69 and 71, respectively. Taken as a group they have an average age of just under 43: astonishingly young for men who bear such responsibility.

All are Oxbridge graduates. All bar Miliband are products of private schools. Between the five of them, they have only the tiniest smattering of experience of any working life outside politics. David Cameron’s seven years as director of corporate affairs at Carlton TV essentially required him to be a slick-tongued spin-doctor. So no change there, then.

Cameron, too, is the only one to have endured any kind of serious personal loss. No one can suffer the death of a child as he has done without being profoundly changed. Yet on his imperious ascent from Eton to Number 10 he has never experienced even the slightest frisson of financial insecurity.

Cocooned by inherited fortunes and/or secure, expenses-laden, taxpayer-funded pay-packets, the quintet have led charmed lives, entirely insulated from any of the worries that afflict the vast majority of the population. Have they ever struggled to pay bills? Have they wondered how they could afford a home of their own? Have they struggled to make a little go a long way? Have they hell.

These are spoiled brats with barely a principle between them: Clegg and Balls both belonged to the Conservative Association at university. Meanwhile, Cameron has Tory voters baffled as they search in vain for a sign of anything they might recognise as an actual Conservative philosophy.

Futile gestures

While our soldiers prepare to retreat from a second, wasteful, defeated, horrendously expensive war – and the depleted remains of the Navy and RAF conduct their futile bombing-runs against Gaddafi – Cameron witters on about the need to spend billions on foreign aid.

While the superpowers of Asia (which, absurdly, still receive the very aid that Cameron espouses) prepare to seize the levers of economic global power, Cameron seems more concerned with absurdities such as the Big Society, or futile eco-gestures. As if a forest of ineffective wind-turbines will make the slightest difference when China is building one coal-fired power station after another.

In case our politicians hadn’t noticed, the EU is in the throes of what may well be a terminal currency crisis. Capitalism in its extreme, banker-driven form is as morally and intellectually bankrupt as Communism was 25 years ago. The very nature of British society is being radically affected by mass migration: almost nine out of ten new jobs (87 per cent) go to immigrants (largely because unemployed Britons are too lazy or unqualified to take them). We could be in for some seriously hard times.

Meanwhile, millions of us look on in impotent fury and frustration. Will no one seize the moment? Is there not one man or woman in political life who has the guts to act like a grown-up? Or, while the chubby little children of Westminster act out their playground politics, must we go down with a whimper?