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Home > Politics

One Of Us... One Of Us...

15 October 2006

Back when he used to be funny, Ben Elton once referred to the ‘non-humour’ used by politicians. And he was bang on the mark: any attempt by politicians at humour is invariably toe-curlingly embarrassing, as can be seen at any Prime Minister’s question time, when lame-o quips like ‘Maybe the minister for health should be called the minister for *ill* health!’ provoke a barrage of witless guffaws and hysterical laughter, as though the entire chamber had just heard something so amazingly funny they’d all spontaneously ejaculated in delight.

And this week Labour MP Sion Simon maintained the tradition of agonisingly bad attempts at political humour with a woefully ill-judged clip posted on YouTube in which he pretends to be David Cameron. In the video, a baseball cap-wearing Simon says:

‘Yo. My name’s Dave, yeah? Thing is, I’m just like you. I’ve got the same worries, the same troubles, the same cares, the same trouble and strife. Want to sleep with my wife? That’s cool. Come down, check it out, we'll sort it out. Safe. No worries. ‘Cos I know what it’s like, I know how you feel because I’m just like you… I’ve got two kids. I like to get my kids in. I've got two kids - kid one, kid two. You like them? Take one - that's cool… Sorted. You know. It’s easy… I tell you what’s the best thing, yeah, come down and live in my house, it’s fine I’ve got a big yard, check yourself into Dave’s yard, bring your family…That’s what it is, my name’s Dave, and I’m just like you. I can do this because I can feel your pain and I’m just like you.’

Ho ho.

Oh ho ho ho.

Well, Cameron may not be like us, but Sion Simon certainly isn’t, because we’re not total bell-ends. His point, in case you have cement for brains and didn’t notice it, is that David Cameron is *not* like ordinary members of the public. Well he ain’t. Cameron is the son of a stockbroker, who was educated at Eton and Oxford and is a distant relative of King William IV, according to Wikipedia (which admittedly means he’s probably *actually* from Mars and is made out of cheese).

In a nutshell, David Cameron is a bit posh. But whether anyone cares about that is unclear - most people don’t appear to have any strong feelings about Cameron one way or the other, except for his actual supporters. If anything, Cameron can be given the dubious credit of having fashioned an image that is simply inoffensive; he’s the beige sofa of politics - not especially desirable, but reasonably comfy, and he doesn’t clash with the curtains. Of course, Cameron does try to pretend he’s an ordinary person like us, and invariably fails, but pretending to be one of the common people is so common in politics it’s hardly remarkable. After all, we’ve just had nine years of Blair and his blue jumper and his mug of tea and his dismal ‘regular guy’ schtick.

We at TFT are no fans of Cameron, but we can’t help but feel that Sion Simon is not making a particularly interesting or relevant point here. What *is* interesting is the sheer ineptitude with which he makes it. What leaps out from his clip is the comment ‘Want to sleep with my wife?’ Unfortunately for Simon, this misjudged attempt at humour carries deeply unpleasant undertones of sexual abuse. Of course he’s not suggesting that Cameron *really* pimps out his lovely wife Samantha, Fred West-style, but anyone who tries to get a laugh out of the sexual belittlement of women had better have a sense of humour as acute as that of Chris Morris, or risk looking like an absolute twat. And if you’re going to satirise Cameron’s supposed liberal/progressive views, it’s not really the best way to go about it. And whether it’s sincere or not, on some issues Cameron *is* fairly liberal and progressive, certainly compared with hardcore ‘shoplifters-should-be-tortured-a-bit-before-they’re-hanged’ Tories.

The only thing Simon’s little clip succeeds in is reminding people of Cameron’s own webcam shenanigans, in which he claims to be hip and with it and down wit da yoot and probably ‘groovy’, by showing himself pottering about the kitchen like a thoroughly modern Millie (as no doubt defined by a focus group). It’s an empty and contrived exercise - who gives a fuck whether Cameron knows the little sink is for rinsing? - but really no worse than countless other politicians’ embarrassing attempts to show the common touch, not least the awful Stephen ‘I’m a chav!’ Pound.

And this is the problem. All of this shit, whether it’s Simon’s unfunny crap, Cameron’s attempts to be the bloke next door, or Blair’s twaddle about having slept on a park bench shows a terrible contempt for the public. They see electoral benefit in being liked, rather than respected, by the general public, and so try to prove they’re ‘one of us’. Unfortunately, when they try to ingratiate themselves with us, they’re so hopeless at it that all they do is highlight just how removed from everyday life they are.

And we suspect there’ll be more of this naff populism. It’s only a matter of time before Gordon Brown proudly declares that he’s a fan of ‘Hollyoaks’, or David Milliband claims to own an album by the The Orb.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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