Walking on water

Posted on: 18th May 2011

Originally posted on July 25th 2007

Sympathy for opposition leaders this week…

While Prime Ministers can stride the media globe unable to avoid looking anything other than purposeful and relevant, opposition leaders have to engage in monumental effort to crowbar their way into the news.

I suspect that “angry exchanges” across the despatch box of the Commons chamber would be less angry if it were not for the need to give vent to the understandable frustration and envy which arise from this reality.

The basic truth about politicians is – as they know very well – that they thrive on the oxygen of publicity and expire in the carbon monoxide of obscurity.

Hence, one party leader – George Galloway – this week made sure that he was “thrown out” of the Commons Chamber (preferably in a red cat jumpsuit) with as much hot air and razzmatazz as possible rather than taking the option of quietly receiving a letter telling him that he was no longer welcome.

One of the most successful opposition “Artistes” of recent times has been David Cameron who has clearly caught the media’s attention with well prepared photo shoots (with huskies, bicycle clips and tie off, etc) and well timed and presented policy commissions. One political leader, Harold Macmillan, once warned that leaders should always be prepared for “events, dear boy, events!” We are not masters of our own destiny.

And this week the resounding reality of that advice was confronted. Obviously David Cameron is not responsible for actually handing out the sandbags and making cups of tea for his flooded constituents in Witney, but the public perception of an MPs role is that they should not appear to abandon them in their hour of need.

How frustrating it must have been for Mr Cameron. An elaborate, expensive and worthy media event organised in genocide-torn Rwanda which could have helped him with an image altering media jamboree was blown out of the water by the good old British weather.

Grafting “New” into his Party’s name would be old hat so he has tried the high wire act of risking accusations of arrogance by grafting his own name on the party brand.

Not long ago it seemed as if he would walk on water. Now “events” appear to have got the better of him.

As they say, “it never rains but it pours”!