Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2008: Radders awards ....

No one can compete with Iain's lists of lists, of course, so I've only got a couple of categories.

1. Downfall - the hubris and nemesis awards

a. DEREK CONWAY - Derek's fault was to get caught fiddling at a time when the public tolerance of political corruption was at its lowest, and he caught the full hammer swing. I remember at Ralph Harris' memorial service in Smith Square Neil Hamilton caused a ripple of chuckles when he started his eulogy "Well, that's the first time I haven't been introduced as disgraced former MP ...". Conway will have to get used to being known as "Disgraced former MP Derek Conway" for a good few years before he rehabilitates himself on the after-dinner speech circuit.

b. POLLY TOYNBEE - It's hard to pin down the exact moment in 2008 that Polly Toynbee changed from heavyweight commentator to joke figure. Was it when her gushing love for Gordon changed to vituperative scorn and then back to love again? Was it the inane column that drew hundreds of excoriating comments from Grauniad readers? Whenever it was, the force has passed from her and she's become a sort of national caricature. I can see her losing her column next year, a lengthy 'sabbatical' and a self reinvention as something yoghurtish, hand-knitted and cosy.

c. TAMSIN DUNWOODY - Truly one of those Portillo moments. Poor Tamsin will have been written off by Labour as a reminder of the embarrassment at Crewe and Nantwich and consigned to obscurity. Expect to see her in 2009 surfacing as a debt counsellor or somesuch.

d. KEN LIVINGSTONE - Yes, strange to see that old demon's name in print again, isn't it? Ken hasn't yet learned that the harder he tries to stay in the public eye, and the deeper his longing for political office, the further the prospect recedes from him. Even at the end he never truly suspected London would ditch him; now he can't accept that his time has well and truly passed.

e. MICHAEL MARTIN - Unlike Toynbee, it's easy to pinpoint exactly when Martin became a spent force, when the authority of the office drained from the man and left him exposed and naked. His hubris was great, and his fall a long one. Now he must endure the humiliation of being a dead Speaker walking until he can muster the best grace he can to announce his retirement.

f. IAN BLAIR - The verdict of history will not be kind to Sir Ian. Had he chosen to go in the wake of the de Menezes killing, that single honourable act would have negated the critical assessment of his brief time in office. His decision to cling on, and to award himself a £25k 'performance bonus' for that year, left a foul taste in the mouths of Londoners. At the end I suspect even Jacqui Smith was glad to be rid of the embarrassment.

g. LEHMAN BROTHERS - I'm not sure if a finance firm can have corporate hubris, but if so then the downfall of this distinguished firm goes here. The downfall of Lehman's CEO Dick Fuld, a Master of the Universe who paid himself $75m in the last two years before the bank's downfall, certainly belongs here. Whether he'll serve time in a Federal Penitentiary remains to be seen.

2. Outstanding conduct

Only one entrant in this category - the British Army. For all the obvious reasons, plus this.

After the lads fooled the monoptic Brown into writing 'Cyclops' on an armoured vehicle, and signing it, on one of his previous visits, their furious officers warned that any further evidence of their collective dislike for Jonah would be ruthlessly dealt with. Since then they've adopted the sort of dumb insolence that they excel at; Brown's tacky publicity visits are now captured on camera with a very uncomfortable looking Brown surrounded by impishly grinning squaddies. Brown looks as though he thinks they've just gobbed on his back, and they do their best to look as though they're tempted to.

Well done, lads.


Newmania said...

It's hard to pin down the exact moment in 2008 that Polly Toynbee changed from heavyweight commentator to joke figure.

Yes I noticed that. She has a life in Pantomime ahead with the old Dame Benn teaching her the ropes

Bill Quango MP said...

A truly remarkable list. Spot on.
But no room for David Milliband?
Not so much Claus von Stauffenberg as Friedrich Fromm.

Can't see Tom Cruise playing the foreign secretary in a movie anytime soon.

Happy new year and best wishes for 2009.