Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Trots, Popes, KGB Men

I was thinking of writing a piece about Alastair Darling- and what a sweet soul he seems to be with his lovely black eyebrows and lovely white hair and his propensity to giggle when he doesn't know the camera is on him, but then I read this piece by Andreas Whittam Smith in The Independent which reminds us that Darling's parliamentary expenses included a claim for an Ikea shopping bag and that he flipped his home no fewer than four times in four years. Also that he used to be a Trot. I had dealings with Trots at university- Trots of Darling's vintage; they had  funny haircuts, wore wire-rimmed glasses in homage to the great man, and were lying, manipulative bastards.

You get into a closed society like Westminster politics, says Whittam Smith, and you develop a contempt for the people outside. The hierarchy of the Catholic church is also a closed society- which tells us all we need to know about the Pope and his disrespect for abused children. The kids were "them", the abusers were "us". You have to be a very strong and free-thinking person to be on the inside of a closed society and not be overwhelmed by its chumminess.

I like The independent. It's a brave, high-minded paper. It's columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is someone I always read. And now it has been sold- at a give-away price- to Alexander Lebedev- the former KGB man. If we had been told- thirty years ago- that a British national newspaper would one day be owned by a former KGB man we'd have thought our informant was prophesying a Russian victory in the Cold War. History is weird. The weirdest things happen.The least predictable.  And we're so calloused by living in the time stream that we hardly notice just how weird they are.
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