Alternative histories fascinate Badger. Robert Harris’s Fatherland is an entertaining twist on a detective story. Badger enjoyed reading Niall Ferguson’s Virtual History and dips in and out of counterfactual histories to see their perspectives on past events.
Humanity’s unpredictability and the absence of certainty in human events fascinate him.
It’s like the proverb that Badger remembers from childhood about the importance of minor details to events’ flow.
For want of a nail, a horseshoe was lost,
for want of a horseshoe, a horse went lame,
for want of a horse a rider never got through,
for want of a rider, a message never arrived,
for want of a message, an army was never sent,
for want of an army, a battle was lost,
for want of a battle, a war was lost,
for want of a war, a kingdom fell,
and all for want of a nail.
Badger’s readers know he believes in the “cock-up” theory of history. There’s no big conspiracy moving the cogs and gears of events. If you want to imagine a clockwork world, you must accept it’ll occasionally go “cuckoo”.
However, there’s a difference between using the past as entertainment or stretching the old grey matter and offering fiction as fact. Or – and worse – infantilising facts. Of all the changes in culture over the last quarter of a century, nothing has annoyed Badger more. When raising his hackles, that and therapy-speak (for example, “everyone has their own truth”) make Badger snarl and look for a hedgehog to gut.
When it comes to creating juvenile narratives, politicians (driven by the demands of media to say something ear-catching or write something to make the eyes pop out on stalks) are the worst offenders.
And so Badger comes to Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies. Badger guesses that the individuals who run Mr Davies’s social media got their jobs through a specialist job creation scheme. There is no topic so serious that they cannot crassly express it. Their efforts make their leader appear like a verbally incontinent toddler throwing a tantrum.
Suppose Mr Davies wants to be taken seriously. In that case, his Twitter feed is a fine example of how not to go about it. It reads like a parody account, similar to MP “Sir Michael Take”, whose output sometimes appears on news bulletins due to lazy research.
Before Christmas, Mr Davies tweeted an exceptionally crass image to accompany a tweet about the UK Government’s “victory” (i.e. “humiliating defeat”) in the Rwanda case. Badger can forgive a politician – just – for a failure to understand a Court judgement. However, the gif accompanying the post, showing Prince Harry miming a mic drop next to the late Queen, left Badger wondering whether Mark Drakeford had hacked RT’s Twitter.
Never mind the thought processes leading to that post: did any thought go into it?
It made the Conservative leader appear ridiculous. Now, readers, if you think of Andrew RT Davies, you might think him ludicrous. However, to have Mr Davies’s communications team make him appear so suggests they lack control and perspective.
Whatever your opinions about politics, it’s a serious business. The decisions made by governments affect everyone’s lives. There’s room for humour, and some politicians can be very funny. However, their humour usually has a point.
This week, the person in charge of Andrew RT Davies’s Twitter feed announced: “Claims Wales is worse off post-Brexit are lies peddled by Labour ministers in the Senedd. It’s not true.”
Badger does not comment on Brexit – look at how “Mr Davies” frames the Tweet. He starts with an attack. The tweeter doesn’t say Wales is not worse off because of Brexit. He says suggestions that it is worse off are lies from Labour in the Senedd.
And then things get very interesting.
Whoever controls Mr Davies’s Twitter account then starts arguing with figures showing the contrary. They’re “lies”.
Someone needs to learn contrarianism is not a position, especially when it’s contrarianism fuelled by political propaganda.
When asked to prove the argument, “Mr Davies” cites the UK Government as an independent and impartial source.
Then there’s this exchange:
“Can you provide some actual *unbiased* numerical evidence to the contrary?”
And the answer given, purportedly by the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, was: “Yes. UK Government have guaranteed new funding streams will at the very least replace structural funds. That’s all you need.”
Badger doesn’t care what position you take on Brexit. When business owners who trade with Europe say Brexit has damaged their businesses, Jacob Rees Mogg telling them they’re wrong does not make Jacob Rees Mogg’s answer true. There are countless examples of businesses complaining of Brexit’s effects: from fisheries and farmers to manufacturers and those reliant on cross-Europe supply chains and logistics. The facts speak for themselves. Brexit has damaged Britain’s trade with its closest market and damaged Britain’s economy.
Asserting the opposite is unicorn shit.
The Twitter remarks – and other examples of lunacy at large exist if you care to browse Andrew RT Davies’s feed – aren’t the words of a serious politician. They are a music hall turn. Whoever “Andrew RT Davies” is on Twitter, the idea that the real Andrew RT Davies has views adjacent to him is barmy.
At least, if one supposes Andrew RT Davies is a serious politician.
“Mr Davies’s” peevish responses – in which, when challenged, his ghost-writer repeats the same line about the UK Government – embarrass the author and Mr Davies.
Pembrokeshire’s ports know that Brexit has damaged their trade. Goods entering the UK from the EU are not subject to checks because the UK Government’s grand plan for customs infrastructure was drivel. Westminster wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ and businesses’ money on a customs plan that amounted to no more than flying a kite. However, goods exported from the UK to the EU are subject to customs checks. And the fault for that, and its negative consequences, lies at Westminster’s door.
On Friday evening, Badger listened to Radio 4’s Any Questions. One of the panellists was the Minister for Levelling Up. She conceded that the Fund’s administration and complexity meant it did not work as Westminster’s Conservative Government intended. She said she worked night and day to make the process easier to navigate and fairer.
There’s the reality of “levelling up” and UK grant funding, “Mr Davies”. Even the Minister responsible for it admits it’s not working properly.
Seriously: “that’s all you need”?
Whoever the shill is behind “Andrew RT Davies – Komik Kutz from Cowbridge”, get real!
The Welsh Government is bad enough without a comedian leading the opposition.