Kirsty Gunn: Osborne's hatred of May has made me start to like her
He strikes me as being like the sixth-former who’s never been good enough to represent his school in sports yet still thinks he’s the best player of them all. You know the sort? The bully boy straight out of the Beano with a balloon coming out his mouth saying: “Phwaaaw! I‘ll get her!” Whatever you think of our current Prime Minister, you’ve got to admire her for getting so brilliantly under the skin of someone who has a great thickness of it.
Certainly I’ve never read such a collection of more unsavoury remarks about a woman from a man in public office. One misogynist, murderous thing after another – he’s described her as a “dead woman walking”, said he will not rest “until she’s chopped up in bags in my freezer” and an editorial in the London Evening Standard, which he edits, compared her premiership to the “living dead in a second-rate horror film”. There’s only one other who comes close to Osbone in making public his thoughts about the females in power who show him up – and he’s across the Atlantic. Osborne, unfortunately, is right here among us.
I’ve been thinking about all this because, with the Windrush debacle still in the air, it occurs to me how much the shamed ex-Tory has had to do with shaping public opinion. As editor of the Standard, a free newspaper that commuters pick up on their way home, Osborne has a great deal of influence on all kinds of political matters, setting an emotional temperature that corresponds to his own vengeful, right-wing extremes. The idea that his views can take up so much newsprint, so much time …
No doubt Theresa May has a lot of bridge-building to do following the distress caused by a bureaucratic mistake of such monstrous proportions; it will continue to hurt and affect people but the thing is she apologised straight away and took the blame in a manner that I thought was gracious and decent. There’s no doubt an apology of some magnitude was needed for anyone whose family emigrated from the West Indies to the UK back in the middle of the last century being put under undue stress over their legal status as a UK citizen is distressing, to say the least. As journalist Mary Ann Sieghart said: “Once is too many.” For it’s hard to imagine a state action that might have such an emotional affect on an individual, a family and a community.
But the fact is, it was a ghastly mistake. A shocking one, and with shocking consequences, but absolutely and utterly unintentional. And frankly, when you think about the huge cranking machine that is the civil service and legal departments of political offices labouring away to bring about the end of our place in the lovely European Union, I’ll be surprised if we don’t see a whole lot more mistakes with terrible outcomes being made, over the months and years to come. Errors of all kinds worming their way out of the administrative and paperwork blunders that will proliferate and metastasise as we in the UK become smaller and smaller, and if Scotland splits off from the UK, smaller again. None of it bears thinking about.
Apologies are wonderful. I’d like to hear way more of them. Taking the blame personally for something, bearing the brunt … it’s a decent and big-hearted way to behave. Osborne and his mates might apologise to us all for getting us into the mess that is Brexit in the first place, for example, and for causing splits between the English and Scottish that have resulted in an increasingly nationalist temperature north and south of the Border. Would that a few more politicians say sorry for letting their own personal xenophobic ambitions and plans for separatism cost the futures and peace of mind of the rest of us? That might lend some much-needed calm which might spread to all ends of this four-nation island community of ours. Some peace and quiet instead of division and strife would be nice.
Peace and quiet is on the cards for me in the next couple of weeks as our dog June’s beautiful puppies leave us and do their own work as tiny representatives of a still United Kingdom. With three going to gorgeous kennels ranged across Scotland, two down in London, and one stay-behind who we’ll keep with us and can say he’s at home in both places. They’re like six busy little four-footed diplomats for the Better Together campaign. I’ll have to tell Gordon Brown.
For sure, it’s been an amazing experience watching the “indistinguishables” as we’ve been calling them, six identical black labradors with snuffly noses and bright eyes who were born no bigger and almost as delicious as a Harry-Gow-from-Sutherland sausage roll, now rumbling around the place like they’re auditioning for a part in a teenage musical. I came in the other day to one wearing a lampshade on his head and another up on his hind legs trying to play the piano. It was like something from the old TV series “Fame” – only with puppies. What better antidote, I wonder, to the world’s ills?