10 November, 2005

Mood indigo

Struck down with a bad cold, I've had to trudge into work each day this week weighed down with numerous sachets and potions to try and make it through to 5.30pm in one piece (and thereby saving the need to phone in sick for other, more propitious occasions).

At one point I was emptying out a packet of Lemsip and bits of purple powder cascaded everywhere, rendering my desk akin to a miniature Fathers 4 Justice protest. I find it intensely bemusing that this organization continues to garner headlines through tactics that render their cause hopelessly trivial and self-defeating. By way of an advertisement for fatherhood, illegally scaling buildings, disrupting public thoroughfares and hijacking national events is certainly an original strategy. Who'd want to leave their child in the care of someone whose idea of behaviour is to don fancy dress and waste police time by lolling about atop Buckingham Palace or chucking condoms into the House of Commons?

I guess it's just another case of a justifiably relevant issue becoming totally subserviant to the personalities of its supporters and hence losing all credibility in the process. Fathers 4 Justice subtract authority from their cause every time they mount another demented protest, turning a question of morals into a platform for personal hubris and selfish showboating. They're not the first, of course, and won't be the last. The Socialist Workers Party, of whom I have to confess to being a member for about three months in 1995, are the classic case: first look around for another lost cause, then hi-jack it so it becomes your own, then completely overlook any nuance of debate or argument, and finally shout a lot, usually in the high street on a Saturday, to no effect whatsoever.

It might just be my cold talking, but I can't think of any situation in history where change has occurred without people working at least in part within the system, co-opting the existing mechanisms of democracy and government to serve their cause, rather than merely turning their back on everyone, yelling as loud as they can and condeming all those who disagree with their solution as being part of the problem. It goes for both positive and negative change, of course. Mrs Thatcher didn't seize power, she was voted into office - time after time after time. And Hitler only rose to dominance because the National Socialists worked through the German political system, patiently standing for election like everyone else.

Anyway, the requisite four hours are up, so I'm officially allowed to take another Lemsip now. Hopefully this purple patch won't persist into a second week.


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