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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Watch the skies

The thing I can't take seriously about elections is the manifestos. Where else in life do organisations or people come up with a whole booklet detailing all the things they intend to do over the next few years, outlining how their measures (what a silly, misleading word that is) will change things and what's more change things for the better? I can't take it seriously, particularly on a morning where the biggest story of the moment, the planes crisis, wasn't even in anyone's thinking a whole week ago.

If this government had known that its time in office would be dominated by an unprecedented terrorist outrage perpetrated with Stanley knives, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, a national fit of righteous indignation over MPs expenses, the violent death of an estranged member of the Royal Family and the worst worldwide financial crisis since 1929, to name but a few, or that its last days in office it would be spent dealing with the fact that Middle England was stranded in its holiday resorts because of a volcano in Iceland, I don't think they would have spent quite so long dotting the i's and crossing the t's on their policy plan.

When Harold Macmillan was asked what he feared most in government he said "Events, dear boy, events". In his, relatively slow moving world, events came as single spies. In our connected one they come in battalions. The wise prime minister would say, I'm just going to sit here and wait for events.