It’s easy to forget where you are. I’m cycling along the Embankment, past some of London’s – no, some of the world’s most iconic landmarks. The London Eye to my right. Check. Whitehall on my left. Check. Don’t forget the River Thames. The Houses of Parliament are up ahead, near submerged under crowds of tourists, I barely notice the grand, ornate palace. On semi-auto pilot I charge pass Westminster Cathedral on my way home, trying not to snag a selfie taking tourist. I have to remind myself: I’m fortunate, privileged to be riding these roads.
OK. Not as fortunate or privileged as the Lords and Ladies and Right Honourables inside the Houses of Parliament, as I head home they are probably heading to their heavily subsidised bar. David Cameron probably wouldn’t mind heading home too (and not coming back). He’s said this is his final term but he increasingly looks like someone who wouldn’t mind calling time early. If he’s not being accused of doing something beastly with a pigs head he’s being shamed as tax dodging hypocrite, his dead father’s name dragged through the mud to add to his mire. He gives the impression of a man waiting to cash in his pension and put his feet up (on a private jet whilst touring the lucrative US lecture circuit like his illustrious predecessor: A. Blair).
Dave seemed to lose his mojo when five years after telling us that we should all hug a hoodie it all kicked off during the UK riots in 2011. What he saw during the riots appeared to truly confound him. He couldn’t reconcile the images of the anarchy on the streets with his closeted perception of an honest, decent, patriotic, Victorian-esque society. His sheltered idealism was shattered along with shop windows, his naïve idealism burnt to ashes on the streets.
His privileged forbears would have told him that of course the peasants are revolting. From then on, disillusioned he just seemed to give up, merely going through the motions ever since. Invisible even as his would be successors, George and Boris jostle for the limelight. Even when gifted with Miliband and then Corbyn he’s still not performed. Perhaps he needed a strong rival to shake out his competitive side, a strong rival to motivate him. He’s no Ali but he never faced a Frazier or a Foreman either.
He looks tired. Clock watching. Except sometimes, something stirs, the mask slips, revealing a Tom Brown’s School Day’s Flashman-esque bully, snide, tetchy. Ironically this attitude might have served him better from day one, given him a bit of edge, roughened up his posh blandness, ruffled a few feathers and earned him some respect from the average man on the street who thinks he’s a cartoon cut out bland toff.
Instead, we’ve got a lame duck Prime Minister, like a second term US President. Actually America has one of those too. Significant World Leaders, limply shuffling to the stage exit. It’s dangerous times for the world and dangerous for me as inch across the roundabout at Lambeth Bridge.