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Arrogance

So there I was last year sitting in front of the television, listening to the various parliamentary seats being declared across Britain in the General Election.

It was three in the morning and I was getting tired and somewhat bored as it became apparent who was going to win. But time after time came this statement from the television: "I hereby declare that so-and-so is duly elected to serve in this constituency…".

Serve, serve, serve, washed over and over again as my tired mind offered no resistance. Josef Goebells said that if something was repeated enough times, it would soon be believed. My soporific, malleable mind almost began to believe it – they’re here to serve us needy taxpayers.

As I watched the various neophyte politicians punch the air victoriously at gaining their parliamentary seat, I wondered if the joy coursing through their bodies sprung from the inward thought of "I am so pleased at this opportunity to serve you all!" or was it nearer to "I am so pleased to be on the political career ladder, next stop a junior minister position!". I won’t judge those particular individuals but let me relate to you one story I was told recently regarding the psyche of the politician when the media mask is removed.

I attended a gathering recently in honour of some worthy person and was fortunate enough to be placed in the company of a retired banker. Being a well travelled man, he had a good store of anecdotes to call upon and as the conversation turned in a political direction, he was minded to tell us of his experience with one rather obnoxious politician whose name we were all familiar with.

It was at this point that he uttered that timeless derogative "All politicians are gits!". A quick glance around the table confirmed that this statement was not received with incredulity. Being a modest christian soul, I would not be given to putting the boot in so viciously and, after all, not all politicians are gits. Indeed, the Good Book enjoins me to pray for all those in authority; and we all know what that prayer is: "Lord, please turn them all into Libertarians. Amen!".

But I digress, our raconteur continued.

As I ploughed my haddock gougon into the tartare sauce, he related to a time past when he and his business associate would head down to London on the plane for their weekly HQ meeting. As it happened, this was also the day that a certain gaggle of politicians from a certain party would also travel to conduct any business at Westminster.

As he disenchantedly observed these Statists during those flights, it became apparent that one of them was particularly unappealing as he always headed to the front to claim a specific seat which he had obviously claimed as his own. If some unfortunate was already sitting on this favoured seat, then they were requested to give it up for the honourable member of a certain constituency. All seemed to sheepishly give in to this egotist.

Time to teach this fellow a lesson our banker said. Before the next flight, our friends booked the favoured seat as well as the next seat beside it. The administrator at the other end of the phone, knowing the history of that seat, was hesitant, but he had his way. So, on that fateful day, our self-important politician boarded the plane and headed for his eternally booked seat. There was someone already there, but that was no problem to someone used to getting his own way.

Our storyteller began to chortle more, and I could almost swear the pomme de frites tasted better as we were told that the occupant of the seat refused to budge. The stewardess was called to back up the politician’s illegitimate property rights, but our friend valiantly held out and explained his position thusly:

"Look, I have legitimately booked this seat. Furthermore, my bank is an investor in your airline company and he is only a politician!"

At this statement of truth, the statist face turned red and the air turned blue. Midst the torrent of expletives, he made a move for the second booked seat but found it a bastion of personal liberty as well as all assaults were repulsed. Thus humbled, our Member of Parliament was forced to take a back seat and generally make a childish nuisance of himself by looking over our heroes’ sides throughout the flight.

But all was not over. The flight touched down at Heathrow and the train was caught for central London. Our bankers were close enough to the politicians’ first class compartment to hear the wounded ego rant on about the scum they were letting on planes these days as the ticket inspector came in.

Our politician had a second class ticket but this was obviously not a problem for the privileged political class as he insisted he would not pay for the upgrade. He was last seen being taken away by the railway police and we can now declare a final result of Capitalists 1 Politicians 0.

Was this abuser an isolated case? Obviously, he thought he had come to be served rather than serve and his ilk are unfortunately too many by far. So, don’t forget, respected reader, that power corrupts and the less power they get the better.

April 27, 2002

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