Well, what have I been up to in the post-Christmas lull? Ooh, this and that, you know, this and that. I've been putting in some time with my old Victorian mate Walter Bagehot - there may be an element of the self-fulfilling prophecy but I find a lot of modern resonance in good old Walt's oeuvre. Remember that con-artist Tony Blair and 'Education. Education. Education.' Well try this for size,
Our University has shown upon what principles a sound and sensible culture can be given to young men sincerely bred in different religious creeds, without sacrificing either the faith to the culture or the culture to the faith … The cry should now be “Educate! Educate! Educate!”That was Walter to the graduates of God's own University of London in 1867. A time, by the way, when the University had its own MP voted for by the alumni. Sounds a great idea to me. I see no sound reason why I shouldn't have at least two votes to the one of most mortals.
Time spent with Walter also gets me thinking about the stinking morass that is modern constitutional politics. I've been having some thoughts as to what Bagehot would make of the EU. To the extent that it disenfranchises its citizens and leaves government to an elite, he might be anticipated to approve. However Bagehot accepted such arrangements to the extent that they were either efficient or dignified. You will have a job convincing me which category le Grand Projet can squeeze itself into.
I'll tell you who is efficient - that Alex Salmond. He has manoeuvred the SNP into a position of beautifully unaccountable power. You have to admire his method. And even more skilfully he knows his limits - he will always struggle to tick the dignified box so he would keep the monarchy for that purpose. Hard to deny that Queen Elizabeth II does dignity in spades. I bet he's read his Bagehot. She definitely has. Daft they ain't. Heard him the other day on the radio and his latest little tic is never to say just 'Scotland' but 'oil rich, green energy rich, Scotland.' I wish him well. If the Scots transpire to want the sort of Scotland Salmond would want, a Scandinavian annexe, then they can go with my blessing because the majority of the English, to the extent they ever really think about such things, want something fundamentally different. In an uncomfortable way I rather admire Salmond.
Ronan O'Gara has received a one week ban for full-on kicking a bloke last weekend in a Heineken Cup match. Apparently they took account of his 'previous good record.' Wtf - if you added up all the yards he has run over the years to land a cheap shot in fights that were none of his damned business you'd get to Cork and back a good few times. Gobshite.