In his Daily Telegraph article today, Boris’s subject is how, when it is in the national interest, our leaders have to pal up to the most appalling people, in spite of incidents like the death of Yvonne Fletcher. At one stage in our history, Britain was all over Colonel Gaddafi. That’s politics.
Boris writes: “We cannot know what is going through the mind of crazed ex-despot Muammar Gaddafi as he continues to flee Nato bombs and rebel snipers — but we can have a good guess. He may be holed up gibbering in a basement in Sirte. He may be in Venezuela or working as a suspiciously taciturn short-order chef in a falafel bar in Tripoli.
Wherever he is I wager there is one thing that causes the old dyed ringlets to shake with rage, one thought that brings the foam to the corner of his champing jaws — and that is the treachery of all those he thought of as friends. And of those who have ratted on him in the last six months, there is one particular group of traitors that he would like to cast — I bet — to the nethermost fire-bubbling pit of hell. Never mind the rebels, and all those snaky ex-ministers who chose to defect as soon as the going got tough. Forget the buxom female “bodyguards” who took the first plane back to Ukraine. For sheer duplicity there is no one to beat – the British! May the fleas of a thousand camels infest their armpits!
Gaddafi groans behind his dark glasses, pouring some hot sauce on the falafel. No wonder they talk about perfidious Albion, he mutters, and you can see why. It was only a few years ago that Tony Blair himself came out to his tent, almost snogged the Mad Dog, and proclaimed a new era of cooperation between Britain and Libya. The shooting of Yvonne Fletcher, the murder of hundreds of innocent people at Lockerbie — all appeared forgotten as ever grander emanations of the British state were despatched by London to slobber over the colonel’s jackboots, and to help win oil contracts for British companies.
In a series of retch-making overtures, British special forces offered to help train the Khamis brigade, one of Gaddafi’s most vicious military units. MI6 was apparently so keen to cooperate that it was prepared to trace phone numbers for his horrific secret police. The former Chief Inspector of Her Majesty’s prisons was sent out to devise some collaboration between the British prison service and the dungeons of Tripoli.”
It’s the same with the bankers. Boris points out: “It was only a few years ago that government ministers, and indeed politicians of all parties, were engaged in a protracted cringe before the wealth-generating power of the Masters of the Universe. And the bankers, in turn, became quite used to the flattery. They were put on important task forces to improve the governance of the country. They were given knighthoods for services to banking. They would sit at posh dinners with politicians beside them behaving in the manner, let us be frank, of some seductive courtesan. “You so rich! Your hedge fund so massive! Me love you long time!” And now look at the bankers, and all the other “filthy rich” characters once shamelessly extolled by Peter Mandelson. Not a day goes by without their foxholes being bombed and re-bombed by the very politicians who once sought their favour.”
Boris’s article only confirms what I have thought for years. Being a politician is one of the hardest, most thankless, most disillusioning jobs in the world.