Friday, 5 September 2008

What really happened on Clapham Common


A Christmas Fantasy


Strolling upon Clapham Common one dark autumn night, the Cabinet Minister spied sights more sordid than any apparition from his most fevered nightmares. Around him gathered groups of men with copies of . . . oh, the vulgarity of it all . . . copies of the Sun. The sad misfits dribbled and drawled over black-and-white pictures of naked flesh and uttered wild declarations of impotent intent, such as "'I'd give her one any day of the week". The Cabinet Minister could only swallow hard. On another part of this place of iniquity—oh, how far from the gay valleys of his boyhood—stood uniformed ranks of clone-like beings chanting passages from the New Labour manifesto. Were these Euro-candidates preparing for informal press interviews—or perhaps a more sinister cult, half-Mandelson, half-Mormon?
The quivering Cabinet Minister ran as fast as he could away from this scene of debauchery. That nature had produced such distortions of humanity was more than he could stomach. Into the direction of Clapham High Street he ran, in search of refuge.
At last, a safe haven. Number 52. The door ajar. A pile of old socialist literature in a box at the entrance. These induced in the Cabinet Minister vague memories of encounters long ago. The man in his home town who had stood upon the platform proclaiming to all the world that it was revolution and not reform that would remove the evils of capitalism. In those days the then young politician had believed that capitalism was indeed the cause of many evils. (This was before the Blairite re-education programme had taught him the wisdom of 'social justice through the market', of course.) He was fully resolved to go to Parliament and put right these effects of the system, the cause of which he was committed to retaining intact. 'As long as the cause of social ills remain and production is for profit and not solely for use there will always be poverty and misery for the exploited majority' had declared the uncompromising socialist.
And now the Cabinet Minister stood at the door of the Socialist Party's headquarters, unable to convince even himself that his years of reformist tinkering with the system had been anything but futile. The discussion into which he then entered with the group of socialists in Clapham was, in truth, the affirming moment in his realisation that there still remained only one alternative.
The next day the Cabinet Minister went to see the Prime Minister. "'It's all a lie. I can't go on. I don't want to run capitalism. How can a party dependent on the support of a rag like the Sun claim to be changing anything?" Tony broke away for a few moments from his policy briefing with Rupert Murdoch. (The latter was briefing the former, needless to say.) The famous Blairite smile dropped, as happens whenever the Great One is contradicted by the merest hint of dissent. The Cabinet Minister was fired on the spot, for his momentary lapse in political judgement. The Prime Minister's Press Secretary was urged to concoct a story for the media that would save the Government from association with such perverted thoughts. The Sun gloated over the denunciation of the ex-Cabinet Minister. And the true story has not been told until this day.
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