I don’t know what it is about modern Britain but so many people in the public eye seem to be — invariably — loathsome in the extreme. The word has become rather clichéd but it fits so well.
Loathsome gangster Frankie Fraser dies, a man who pulled people’s teeth out with pliers. Cue loathsome “tributes” and doubtless a loathsomely ostentatious funeral that will pay tribute to “Mad Frank” as the best of British, a lovable villain from a bygone era who helped old ladies across the street — in between teeth-pulling, of course.
Only Simon Heffer tells us the truth in the Daily Mail. Fraser revelled in his notoriety and loved it that we — the great British public — were so malleable as to make him a celebrity. I had the misfortune to get caught up in Reg Kray’s funeral back in 2000. Fraser sat in the back of a limo waving to wannabe gangsters. One young admirer shook his hand through an open window and said he would never wash his hands again. But did he ever wash them to begin with? This worship of gangland thugs is not exclusively a British phenomenon but it seems more accentuated in the UK. Are we really so far gone that we admire these people? It seems that we are.
The loathsomely over-publicised Katie Price shows off again. Meanwhile, David Mellor, the normally civilised former MP seems to have lost his mind and indulged in a fit of loathsomeness too, unleashing a diatribe against an unfortunate taxi driver. Or was it the taxi driver who was being loathsome?
Facebook is becoming equally loathsome these days. Everyone, but everyone, seems to have obligatory bien pensant leftist views. Has this become a litmus test for joining? Do people really believe what they write? If someone is beaten to as pulp in the street, it’s always ‘Cameron’s cuts’ that are to blame. I don’t believe a word of it because if poor living standards caused violent crime then Sofia would have people slashing each other day and night. Instead, in most areas of the Bulgarian capital you can walk through the street at midnight and the only aggravation you will get is from stray dogs.
A Labour MP tweets condescendingly about a white van man who turns out to be — let’s face it — a rather loathsome-looking cage fighter, the kind of person I have spent most of my life trying to escape from. The loathsome Sun, the newspaper which I have also always scrupulously avoided, then makes a hero out of him. White van man becomes a celebrity and his neighbours want his autograph. This tells you everything you want to know about how loathsome modern Britain is.
Miliband then tells us that he views white van man with respect. Now this is the most interesting part. Why did Miliband respect him exactly? Why does draping a house with the English flag necessarily engender respect? How does that entitle anyone to respect? Of course, Miliband means respect in the rather sinister sense it has acquired. It’s deference to the hard man who flaunts his patriotism. It’s a nod to Sun readers. ‘Maximum respect, mate.’
The truth is that a politician has to lie and pretend to be interested in some unsavoury types and even court them to get power. Like Coriolanus, I wouldn’t have what it takes to woo the masses.