Friday, October 20, 2006

Simon Jenkins, a pompous sentimentalist

I was taken aback to learn that Simon Jenkins is Skipper’s favourite columnist. I concede that Jenkins writes well although his florid style is not to my taste.

But he clearly views Merrie Olde England through heavy-duty rose coloured glasses. He hankers after a Britain where everyone (especially the riffraff) knew their place and few made any attempt to rock the proverbial boat.

In his diatribe about the East Midlands in the Guardian today he resorts to historical muddling and economy with the truth. He declares "the unelected East Midlands Regional Assembly, a band of placemen and stooges" to be John Prescott’s creature. But 80% of regional assembly members are councillors from the constituent local authorities and the remainder local businessmen and the like. They originate from John Major’s attempts to move decision making away from Whitehall and to get it closer to the people it affected.

Jenkins’s description of 1938 as "recent" gives a clue as to the man’s outlook on life. The East Midlands is not a particularly beautiful area but this has more to do with geography and decline of traditional industries than with Labour’s alleged wilfully poor planning. Most of the things he complains about, Nottingham’s inner ring road and "defaced shopping centres", "low-density private estates, cheap-flight airports, garish hypermarkets and gigantic warehouses", long pre-date Labour’s current term of office.

But Jenkins can’t stand Tony Blair; perhaps therein lies a clue to Skip’s admiration! Mine enemy's enemy is my friend is, though, a dangerous mantra...


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