Sunday, May 31, 2009


Sat in the garden of the homestead and it's just like being on holiday in France. The sun shining, the trees offering a bit of respite when the heat gets a bit too much and a jug of fresh iced juice on hand to slake the thirst.

But we're not in France, we've just got back from a walk around Ullswater and we think it must be Wearside wakes week, the place was full of people in Sunderland FC shirts, t-shirts and tattoos. They were everywere.

Now, I love hot weather, even when it does trigger my hayfever, which is due around now. But there is one thing I do dislike intensely, and it seems to be a very British thing. Why is it when the sun pops out so do the big, bare red beer bellies, the horrible chav tattoos and the bouncy sunburnt thighs? And as for the men? It makes me ill! So today we've witnessed tribal culture, manifested in the football tribe from Wearside.

On Thursday we will witness it from the political tribes. Being a European election it will be the real hardcore tribal members who bother. The ones who, regardless of their representatives putting expense claims in for buying a cornet at the pictures one Saturday night in 2007, will still vote for their tribe.

One of your candidates being investigated for firearms offences? Earns a crust making gallows for countries that still hang 'em high? Bet muppets will still vote for that particular tribe.

Had one of your MEPs imprisoned for benefit fraud? Well, he was thrown out of the party. What about the other one then, the one on bail for alleged fraud and money laundering. Well, he was weak and if you want out of the EU, well, 'we're the only show in town'.

It sometimes seems that politics is the middle class, or more likely 'pseudo-intellectual' eqivalent of football. They are both tribal, both prepared to forgive their team/party for almost anything and regard sticking with their team/party whatever they have done as a badge of honour, however dishonestly they may have behaved.

Blind allegiance to a football team is one thing. Blind allegiance to a political doctrine, or party, leads to conflict or even war. So, if you blindly follow a corrupt party on Thursday or, more importantly, in the general election that will come soon enough, don't whinge about dodgy politicians if you vote for the ones we all know to be on the make.

Maybe some of the blame lies with the political tribes, maybe more blame lies with the electorate, for either not giving a toss or not getting angry enough.

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