the masque of castlereagh

The British are used to lunatic leaders. Castlereagh, the emblem of odiousness in the Masque of Anarchy, committed suicide in 1822. Shelley wasn’t alive to hear the glad tidings:

”I met Murder on the way--
He had a mask like Castlereagh--
Very smooth he look'd yet grim;
Seven bloodhounds followed him:

All were fat; and well they might
Be in admirable plight,
For one by one, and two by two,
He tossed them humanhearts to chew,
Which from his wide cloak he drew.”

Castlereagh was, of course, a relentless pursuer of native radicals spawned by the French Revolution, and the proto-chartists who were beginning to respond to the horrors of the new industrial system. But even Castlereagh might have hesitated to propose the Blairist blasphemy acts.

Then of course there was Anthony Eden, who, after Suez in 1956 and the realization, among the English political elite, that they were no longer independent of America – basically, the Americans told the English, get a new p.m. – retired with a nervous breakdown. Churchill finally went senile in office. Thatcher, of course, came into office senile, but her senility was ideological. And then there is the mad Blair.

Simon Hogarth’s sketch in the Guardian captures the inheritor of Castlereagh’s mask, the mullah of the third way, in all his seedy, lunatic glory. This is Hogarth’s report on the Blair press conference – the one after the reports were out that Blair had demoted his foreign secretary due to Jack Straw’s slight hesitation to endorse the Bush doctrine of tossing about nuclear weapons to win popularity and power the winds of democracy. Well, you have to stay with the Americans, after all, to moderate their line:

“He {Blair) also showed - unusually - signs of suffering from secondary Prescott, the verbal disorder that afflicts anyone who has dealings with the deputy PM, like the lasagne that laid waste Spurs. Of Charles Clarke's dismissal, he said: "There was no one I less wanted to make the decision in respect of."
And through it all we were hypnotised by the eye, the one gleaming, bulging eye that tells us so much about what is really going on inside the Blair brain. It seems to act independently of the other, often wider, sometimes hooded. Occasionally, even while he is grinning, the eye focuses balefully on a tormentor. It resembles a special branch officer, who, while the politician glads hands and slaps backs, scans the crowd for concealed weaponry.
The amazing thing is that the eye has changed sides, twice! I checked with my colleague Steve Bell, who first spotted the staring orb, and he said it was the left one.

But just a year ago, while he was defending himself over Iraq, it was the right eye that resembled Sir Roderick Spode's, capable of opening an oyster at 60 paces.”
Well, LI can only see this as the realization of the curse. The throngs of the dead haunt the “coalition” leaders, lying scoundrels every one. It is true that LI’s often expressed wish that the dead of Falluja surround the bed of the President and his “caliente” wife every night seems, as of yet, not to have come true. On the other hand, Bush’s soullessness, the path upward from failure to failure and promotion to promotion, that makes it hard to pinch the man under all that Pavlovian conditioning. The self made Manchurian candidate.


winna said…
Shall we have this chance with Blair, or will he be cremated?

'Posterity will ne'er survey
A nobler scene than this.
Here lie the bones of Castlereagh.
Stop traveller, and piss.'
roger said…
You are hot today, Winna!