Boris once likened the demise of a political career to a wasp breathing its last in a jam jar: (see full text here)
it is not in the nature of politicians to surrender their own political lives; they are like wasps in jam jars. They buzz on long after hope has gone. They go on because it is in their nature to do so, because all political careers must end in tears
Having read the obituary for Patrick Pakenham, in The Daily Telegraph, it struck me that his exuberance and boisterous nature made it impossible to sustain his position at the Bar beyond 10 years. A talented barrister – something of a legend – and second son of the 7th Earl and Countess of Longford, he was highly intelligent and articulate. There are many tales of his amusing exploits. Here is a record of his final appearance in court:
As defence counsel in a complicated fraud case, he was due to address the court during the afternoon session, and had partaken of a particularly well-oiled lunch. “Members of the jury,” he began, “it is my duty as defence counsel to explain the facts of this case on my client’s behalf; the Judge will guide you and advise you on the correct interpretation of the law and you will then consider your verdict. Unfortunately,” Pakenham went on, “for reasons which I won’t go into now, my grasp of the facts is not as it might be. The judge is nearing senility; his knowledge of the law is pathetically out of date, and will be of no use in assisting you to reach a verdict. While by the look of you, the possibility of you reaching a coherent verdict can be excluded.” He was led from the court.
Suppose a few years down the line other politicians following suit and adding some drama. …Tony Blair in a final speech … “I am sad to bid farewell to members on the benches Opposite and wish them well. My days of dealing with pretty odd sparrows who act as peacocks are over and I may respectfully add that any possibility of anyone matching my exemplary record can safely be eliminated. [****** in reply]” *Fanfare* ~ as he begins a new life claiming the Presidency of the EU and lecturing in the US…
When ‘little secretary me’ happened to ask Alastair Campbell a question from a packed audience in Sevenoaks last year I alighted on the wasp idea and asked why in generic political terms a career should end so sadly. His convincing reply was that “Tony has nothing to worry about – he has a strong legacy”. “Ah – good thinking I thought” – the legacy, that’s what matters ….
Wouldn’t it be more fun if politicians went off in a flourish, or is this mere idealistic thinking? After all, one way to invigorate the youth vote may be to bring back, in a modernised sense, the drama of the Disraeli, Gladstone and Lloyd George days.