08 July 2011

Why wait till now to doubt David Cameron's Judgement?

I find it baffling that, leaving aside his apparently being so hand-in-glove with Rebekah Brooks that they go riding together, he has dinner at her house over Christmas, and he may well be responsible for her still having her job, people are pointing to his links with Andy Coulson as reason to doubt David Cameron's judgement.

I have difficulty understanding why people ever had faith in it in the first place. This is, after all, a man who not three years ago chained a supposedly treasured bike to a bollard while he went to the shops and then was surprised that people stole it.

Remember the story? It was late July in 2008, when David Cameron stopped for five minutes at the Tesco on Portobello Road. 'I was cycling home, he said, 'and stopped to pick up some things for supper. I chained the bike through the wheel then put it around one of those bollard things.'

When he came out, rather predictably, it was gone. One eyewitness said, 'He chained his bike to one of the bollards. There had been a couple of kids hanging around. They noticed he had chained it to a short bollard and they just picked it up and ran off.'

And how did he react? With complete incomprehension, it would seem: 'He was going up and down Portobello Road. He said, "I am sure I chained my bike here and it is not here. I left it for five minutes - how can it be gone?" To start with he was not sure whether he had just left it somewhere else then after a few minutes he realised it was stolen. He was embarrassed and a bit annoyed. He was going round talking to people asking them if they had seen it -- most people didn't recognise him.'

I reckoned last year that the British people would have to be morons to vote for Cameron. How could they trust a man who couldn't look after his own bike to look after their country? There are, after all, three things about this whole episode that pretty much showed him to be a clueless buffoon.
  1. Firstly, Cameron's surely a man who can afford a decent D-lock, rather than relying on a chain, but let's assume* he's got a high quality chain. Given that, then, surely he knows that you don't just lock your wheel to things; you lock the frame and a wheel if you can manage that too, as the wheel can always be removed, and often pretty quickly, something I learned the expensive way when I was nineteen.
  2. Second, if the prospective Prime Minister was using a flexible chain rather than a rigid D-lock, he should have realised it wouldn't be of any value unless it was chained around something it couldn't possibly have been slipped off; a rail, say, or one of fourteen U-shaped bicycle racks. Anything but a two-foot high bollard, basically. As it stood, his bike wasn't locked. It was merely decorated.
  3. Third, thousands of  bikes are stolen in London every year. In 2007, it was reckoned that about 440,000 bikes were stolen in the UK -- that's one bike every 71 seconds, and the police reckon that a huge amount of bike theft goes unreported, so there could be 60,000 or so bikes stolen in London every year. The then leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition really shouldn't have been surprised to learn that his bike was not immune to this phenomenon. Bike theft, sadly, happens all too often, and if the Conservative leader didn't realise this it merely shows how unaware he is of the realities of modern British life. He certainly shouldn't have stood there in disbelief and wandered about bewildered, repeatedly saying 'But I locked it,' especially when he'd done no such thing, having instead opted merely to drape a chain around a neighbouring bollard.
There are old sayings about how if you look after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves, and how a man who can be trusted in little things can also be trusted with big ones. Bikes matter, as Cameron seems to believe, claiming his is a prized possession, yet the man who's now Prime Minister showed in the summer of 2008 that lacks the basic wit needed to look after something about which he says he cares deeply; why would anyone be surprised if it turns out that he's been naively snuggling up to criminals and liars? The man's clearly devoid of common sense.

And I'd have thought common sense was something the British people would have seen as a basic requirement in their Prime Minister, not a mere optional extra. I guess the 23.5 per cent of the British electorate who voted Conservative last year would beg to disagree, though.

Yes. Bollards.

* A risky venture, in light of the stupidity demonstrated in the whole affair.

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