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The Dawn of David Cameron

This is an article first published in the online political opinion publication Errant Magazine. The piece was written back in November, when the possibility of a Tory government seemed like an inevitability. Now, six months later and despite the slight murmur of a Lib Dem swing, the problem seems even more real. How we’ll miss Gordon’s uncomfortable faux-smile after 5 years of being patronised by the king of smarm.

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The Dawn of David Cameron

At a time when the relief maps of most politicians’ souls can only be expressed in negative figures, Josh Russell is surveying the deep dark abyss that is David Cameron

It’s getting worse and worse. I can’t even make it through a whole night anymore. It starts with a gut like millstones, grinding last night’s lasagne into so much greasy flour. Drenched in my own sweat, I flop about like a humpback beached in a shallow brackish estuary. Branches tap at the window, their leaves whispering the word ‘change’ with each gust of wind. There is the stench of pre-packaged charm, charisma that has died a slow death choked in plastic. My throat makes a fist. My sphincter trembles like a nervous Chihuahua. Even now I can feel the shape of the knowledge lay heavy in my brain, a coarse breezeblock wedged squarely between the frontal lobes. It’s out there. Waiting.

Screwing my eyes shut I mutter psalms under my breath, wishing it were not true, that some deity would come down from the sky and exorcise the dark dawn that faces us. I hear a noise; the words ‘old politicss isss failingg’ hissed through a mouth of broken teeth. Terror gurgles through my arteries like air bubbles in a knackered central heating system.  I stare into the black, limbs pretzel-knotted in fear as a cruel shape emerges from the shadows. It swoops down on me in all its savage glory. There’s no hiding from it anymore.

David Cameron is going to be our next Prime Minister.

The idols of the old religions have been cast out. Margaret stares out of the window in her retirement community, sighing wistfully and telling her nurse once more about the time she gave the impudent proles a thorough sorting. John Major scurries about in the gutter fishing for titbits, a look of fathomless understanding in his wide lugubrious eyes. At number 10, Brown huffily crosses days out of his calendar and occasionally takes trips to the stationary cupboard to see whether there are any mini post-its or exotic coloured highlighters he hasn’t stolen yet. And somewhere deep in a cave, shying from the dim light of day, Cameron sits googling his own name and waiting for the day he will finally be free to stamp across our country his own brand of obsequiousness and buffoonish ineptitude.

Okay. I’ll concede there are points thus far where I have laid on the melodrama with an Ingersoll Rand industrial digger. But there is unarguably something deeply unsettling about David Cameron. When you watch him kiss his kids whilst he cooks his no frills, everyman cuisine or slyly drawing attention to his England wristband with consummate skill and characteristic deftness of touch, the illusion is so expertly woven that you would be forgiven for missing it altogether. But peer a little deeper and under that carefully constructed public image lurks a shocking truth. Cameron is a cipher. A zero. A gaping void. The man has a hole at his centre that would make a polo throb with glucose-boiling envy.

And where is our future Prime Minister meanwhile? Updating his YouTube account to show he’s ‘with it’, whilst the world around him burns to the ground.
It’s not hard to picture the future under a man as insipid as David. Burnt out cars lay at the sides of the road like the mangled husks of deceased arachnids. Investment bankers are forced to lick the moss and lichen-encrusted ruins of HBOS for sustenance. Gangs of recently terminated postmen patrol council estates, setting fire to post boxes and occasionally stopping to spit at bewildered old ladies. And where is our future Prime Minister meanwhile? Updating his YouTube account to show he’s ‘with it’, whilst the world around him burns to the ground. In days gone by, we had leaders we could turn to when times got tough, who could lead us out of disaster by their shining example. Now we have to face the prospect of a Premier whose idea of a contribution to the world is to tweet every time he takes a dump.

Modern politics has wandered so far from any true desire to improve the world around us that it has now become a mere arms race of gimmicky campaigning techniques and toe-curlingly embarrassing media spots. You can’t turn on the TV anymore without watching Tony Blair endorse Pepsi with that rabbit-in-the-headlight stare or seeing Boris Johnson awkwardly bumble around the set of the Queen Vic as if genuinely unaware he has slipped out of his seat in the House of Commons and into a post-modern nightmare. Witnessing these moments is embarrassingly like watching a drunken uncle sing along to the Black Eyed Peas in the middle of a crowded room; you find yourself chewing your tongue into pâté just to distract from the agonising spectacle right in front of you.

Cameron is the final evolution of this brand of ‘neo-politics’, definitive confirmation that genuine leadership skills and an ability to deal with the important issues come a distant second to an impish grin, an Etonian education and a personality about as engaging as stale tap water. As far as policy is concerned, Cameron is remarkably like the prize conveyor belt at the end of the Generation Game. No matter how astutely you watch its slow procession of financial regulations, immigration policies and educational reforms, once the screen has rolled back all you can picture is that insincere smirk and end up dribbling “… guh… mhn… cuddly toy!” in pop-eyed desperation. Under his leadership, the Conservative party is a legislative vacuum.

The political compass is no longer a clear-cut guide to finding your way. It is instead like a Sat-Nav that keeps telling you to take right turns even if that means driving off the quayside.
Politics in this country are reaching an event horizon, a point from which we cannot return. Most of us have noticed the gradual centralisation of the major political parties over the years. The compass is no longer a clear-cut guide to finding your way, with Labour to the west and the Tories to the east. It has instead become increasingly like a Sat-Nav that keeps telling you to take right turns even if that means driving off the quayside. This narrowing of partisan politics may seem like a process of hedging two extremes but decreasing voter turn-outs as time goes by are showing that the lack of true choice is choking the life out of our political system.

Whilst New Labour’s claims to liberality have been rather dubious since the party’s conception, the change in the Conservatives has been far more pronounced. The fact it has taken us only twenty years to move from the Iron Lady to the Marshmallow Dandy speaks volumes about how rapidly the face of the party is changing and in the face of this global meltdown Cameron is metaphorically running his air conditioning with the windows open and chain-boiling his kettle. The rise of modern Conservatism has introduced me to an entirely novel sensation; actually feeling sorry for the old-school hardliners who have watched their political views being eroded by an increasing onslaught of spin and electioneering.

Cameron’s time in power is hardly likely to be the balls out, Mumbai Hotel Massacre of Tony and G.W.’s reign. He’s far more likely to be a sort of central London Travelodge.
I am prepared to acknowledge that David Cameron probably won’t be the worst leader in the world. His time in power is hardly likely to be the balls out, Mumbai Hotel Massacre of Tony and G.W.’s reign. He’s far more likely to be a sort of central London Travelodge, losing your passport and heinously overcharging you for the four minutes of ‘Busty Under-Secretaries of State’ you struggled through before giving up in cock-shrivelling exasperation. Cameron is almost certainly a lesser evil than his last elected predecessor and yet in some ways this is actually far more frustrating. After 12 years of nail-shredding, nigh-on apocalyptic terror, it is going to be hard to adjust to a return to governance by lackadaisical incompetence.

And what can we do to avoid what is lying in wait for us? In short: we can’t. There is nothing we can do. Nada. Not a jot. We have lost before we can even begin as we are once more faced by the most common of all cultural problems: the fact that our species has all the cumulative common sense of a pile of mixed nuts. Though as individuals we may consider ourselves to be articulate, discerning and urbane, collectively we’re all twenty stone morons that guffaw inanely at Jim Davidson whilst flicking cigarettes at the cat. As a cohesive unit, our country simply doesn’t have the wherewithal to realise that a vote for Cameron is a vote for more of the same. We just see his happy smile, hear his reassuring tone of voice and switch our minds off.

The only really productive thing you can do is to bolt your doors. Sell your TV. Cancel your RSS feeds. Stop gathering Metros like a news-starved magpie. Rip out your Ethernet cable. Smash your modem with a steak tenderizer. Bury your head in the sand or, better yet, a six-ton lead block. Something dismal this way comes.

And there is nothing we can do to stop it.


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