Theresa May: The new Prime Minister is now safely installed (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Well, things have improved since we last spoke. In Britain we now have a government and a Prime Minister, having appeared to lose both for a period. Mercifully, we were spared the prospect of another nine weeks of anarchy solely in order to discover the innermost thoughts of Andrea Leadsom. There were those of us who thought it all a very costly way to install Theresa May in Downing Street, but a safe pair of hands seems a great blessing after the vacuum George Osborne and David Cameron rather petulantly left us in.
Predictably, the US presidential race has degenerated into a competition over who is worse, with both sides hoping to exploit their rival’s considerable negatives. Hillary Clinton’s first summer salvo was an attack ad showing various Donald Trump infelicities being observed by wide-eyed infants, culminating in the warning, “Our children are watching.” Which would carry a lot more weight if Mrs Clinton’s husband had not been responsible for children in the 1990s asking their parents what oral sex might be. It takes a lot of people to coarsen a culture, and no one can do it alone.
In any case, all the negativity the US will experience in the coming months will convert no one but merely deter the other side’s base from going to the polls, meaning that whoever wins will have a worse mandate than George W. Bush. Among friends in Washington and New York I can find no one who even intends to vote in November — not a great advertisement for the world’s leading democracy.
Back in Britain it seems we must now fear Christopher Biggins. In August the camp pantomime star fell foul of Britain’s ever-curiouser decency debate. Appearing on the not notoriously decent celebrity version of Big Brother (which carries a warning of potentially shocking behaviour) he made a rude comment about bisexuals. This earned him a warning, but shortly afterwards he made a “joke” to a Jewish housemate which got him expelled from the show. The broadcasters claimed the last of these was un-broadcastable. Which raises the question of precisely what they feared. Were fascism to come to Britain it is hard to imagine a more unlikely guise than that of Christopher Biggins. It is our national oddity at present that we are expected to need protection from the words of people like Biggins while the allies of Hamas run the main party of opposition — and those who cover for actual anti-Semitism (Shami Chakrabarti) are ennobled for doing so.