Picture from Sydney Morning Herald
I’ve been eerily quiet about the ceremonial waddling of duck feet from No. 11 to
Scrooge of the Clan McDuck opened his Premiership with a speech that not only almost made sense, it was delivered without the obsessive shuffling of papers that ensured you never quite believed any of the figures that spilled from his Chancellorial beak. The shiftiness and self-consciously averted eyes had been replaced by a steely glare of conviction. For nearly three months questions were just about answered satisfactorily. Even I began to stop imagining it was state silverware bulking out those baggy suits.
No one expected a swan transformation but there was at least hope over the summer that Scrooge wasn’t going to make a total paté of the job. He’d fumbled his way through the floods – hardly as challenging as
It was starting to look like a safe pair of hands was at the helm, albeit one of them being the famous ‘big clunking fist’. It couldn’t last because Scrooge (sorry, I seem to have left my moral compass in my other trousers) McDuck proved no more of an entrée than his predecessor.
Push came to shove as they say during the party conferences over the past two weeks. McDuck is no MacDuff. He didn’t choke exactly but his speech was hardly Churchillian or even vaguely vermillion. Its successful completion was cause for celebration in Labour ranks - expectations weren't high. That in itself is a distance travelled but the fact that he said nothing didn’t go unnoticed. Nothing may be all we’re used to getting but we were led to believe that the days of blank looks and unfinished sentences got shipped to Connaught Square with the rest of the Blairs' perishables.
David ‘Me Cam’ Cameron, who makes duck down look heavy, wowed his party conference with nothing as well but his nothing was made up of slightly different non-ingredients and he’d learned it by heart and he'd unleashed the Southern Baptist within when he got up on that stage. A stunned and grateful nation rewarded him with an even money start should there be a snap election. The Tory-proposed raising of the inheritance tax and stamp duty thresholds may not have been implementable but certainly proved popular. Even House of Pants is above the current threshold. There can scarcely be a property in inner London that isn't.
Meanwhile, back at the Money Bin (the knocked-through 10-11 Downy Street), McDuck’s round-the-clock pollsters were called in after his interminable sermon of which no one can agree the exact length but it went down in the minutes as 'for ever plus a fourth term'. They concluded (rather bravely I thought) that it probably wasn’t a great idea to hold an election after you’d only been in charge for three months, particularly if you've come up looking like even more of a tosser than your more popular (today at least) rival.
Problem – how do you then explain to pundits who have noted your unmistakable big clunking fist shoring up the jackets of various cabinet colleagues promoting the idea of an election?
Answer – you go all stony-faced and pretend that holding an election is the most absurd idea since deep-fried Mars bars.
'I'll not be calling an election and let me explain why. I have a vision for change in Britain and I want to show people how in government we are implementing it’, he intoned to Andrew Marr of the BBC, 'I want the chance in the next phase of my premiership to develop and show people the policies that are going to make a huge difference and show the change in the country itself.’
I started to see silver candelabras underneath those baggy suits all over again. At this rate, he’ll need a reign as long as Castro’s to change the country (like, as if). By then Michael Palin might just have completed his life's work of engaging, in a profoundly annoying way, very resident of this planet. It seems only fitting to sentimentally invoke Palin from his glorious Python days at this sad time in history if only to send a strong message to Scrooge, and indeed Palin himself,
‘Intercourse the duck.’There was a time when ordinary people knew up from down, back from front and in from out...