In company of class
I arrived home yesterday to the conversation recorded between Her Majesty, The Queen, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the House of Commons.
The Prime Minister after being introduced by the Speaker to the Queen, decided to engage in small-talk (polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters, especially as engaged in on social occasions) with the Queen and this would have been separate from the formal weekly audience with the Queen where the Prime Minister visits the Queen in camera to discuss the matters of state.
Quite nasty talk
As the camera rolled capturing this seemingly private banter, the microphones, hot and ready picked up a declension into unguarded commentary by a Prime Minister who once had a life in public relations. Almost boastfully boisterous as if to show familiarity and ease before royalty, he declared, “We've got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain ... Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world.” [BBC News]
Now, there is no doubt that Nigeria and Afghanistan have great and almost overwhelming problems with corruption. The Prime Minister had invited the leaders of these countries to his much vaunted anti-corruption summit and it now appeared that he had in mind to ridicule them for the problems in their countries.
On the one hand, this kind of banter which skirts the bounds the typically politely rude English also smacks of old colonial snobbery of the worst kind. The very kind where someone jocularly abuses, insults and offends you and then pats you on the back with the faux-sympathetic apology of not meaning to hurt you.
On the other hand, as we observed of George Osborne some years before, it is the kind of indiscretion that obtains from public school educated toffs who fawn obsequiously in the presence of royalty or money, people who have a heightened sense of self but are immediately self-conscious in the presence of those who for one reason or another they deem their betters.
Fishing for laughs
Now, the well-educated Englishman was usually gotten away with utterly bad manners as a matter of status, class and privilege. Their misdemeanours happen behind closed doors with witnesses holding their peace in disgust and disapproval, but shine a public spotlight on any of this and it stinks to the high heavens of odium most vile.
The Archbishop, given to circumspection interjected, saying, “But this particular president is not corrupt... he's trying very hard”, the Queen concurred, before the Speaker hoping to make a joke of the slight and bring humour to obloquy, then asked, “They are coming at their own expense, one assumes?”
This would have been funny if it was not to add insult to injury, the Speaker aping the Prime Minister in an off-hand game of attempting to amuse the Queen.
Just a silly boy
The end result of this contemptuous activity was that this became the headline news of every media outlet and the papers the next day. Quite unbecoming, very uncouth and socially maladroit, one could almost subscribe to the conspiracy that this deployed intentionally by the Prime Minister to take Brexit away from being the centre of cynosure for a day or more.
Yet, it can only be one thing, a silly boy trying to show off and slipping on a banana skin, a spectacle with a necessary sense of schadenfreude. Aside from all the offense caused, the only conclusion that can be drawn is, David Cameron has been a rather silly little boy. Even if you could get a good laugh, some thoughts are best left unspoken.