Big Dog, the Andrew formerly known as Prince (as per the cracking headline in the Irish Daily Star) and NoVaxx DjoCovid walk into a bar… Sadly, that’s not how we started our latest podcast on the uses and abuses of entitlement – oops, I meant data big and small in politics, business and public life.
Neville kicks us off our recording on Friday 14th by outlining the Politico perspective of possible scenarios regarding the future of Big Dog (although that label, uncovered by The Independent, wasn’t public knowledge by the time of our recording, what with events eventuating so fast and unpredictably these days).
The upshot: degrees of likelihood of survival pour Le Grand Chien.
Since recording, Operation Red Meat has been added as the tactical ops part to Operation SBD. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was the unedited plot of some third-rate D-Day / Nam / Iraq / Afghanistan war spoof script, when in fact it is the real-life UK government panto in all its glory. No it wasn’t a work event. Oh yes it was. Boo hiss Beeb. We don’t know yet what the Transformation Scene will bring, but Dishy Rishi and The Truss are leading contenders.
On the topic of self-interested parties and their agency, I point to the never ending onslaught of lockdown party ‘scoops’ across the partisan journalistic divide. Which begs the question: does a scoop stop being a scoop when it is merely the result of strategic ‘for max effect’ leaking of events up to 18 months ago? Very slow burning moral qualms at play there – looking at you, Downing Street folks with common sense and a working moral compass: where have you been all those months?
Sam is clearly in the mood, his opening salvo referring us to the urban dictionary definition of Johnson being “penis”. We might as well have stopped proceedings there and then. The legally vetted weasel words, the complete lack of humility, the contempt, the entitlement – Sam sticks with his theme in concluding that we’re seeing “the biggest cock in recent British political history” at work.
Who would probably turn that into a panto style double entendre compliment: “Wehell, now that you mention it, hehe, wink wink…”. So tawdry. So likely. Of course, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s surname must in this context be seen as pure and unrelated coincidence.
On a more serious note, Sam raises the issue of the union (as in The Conservative and Unionist Party), and how double-breasted Commons lounge lizard Rees-Mogg’s belittling of Scottish colleagues might play north of Berwick.
As Neville confirms and we all implicitly know, it’s all a very English thing, or rather a Little Englander thing. As Sam puts it, we’re in our version of Trumpsville, we’re in Trumpton, and it’s time for the Trumpton Riots.
One of my favourite Trumpton villagers, panto politico Priti Patel, personifies the rank hypocrisy that’s at the heart of the public outrage: in September 2020, she would have called the police over her neighbour’s rule-breaking. In January 2022, she praises her boss’s heartfelt apologies and his taking responsibility. But enough of that now it’s time to “put our shoulders to the wheel and back Boris.”
The whole absurd double-speak theatre is really becoming rather boring and tedious: Sam highlights Big Dog’s sorry not sorry apology, and Neville is reminded of the reality distortion field we discussed in the last episode.
As Sam rightly points out, we should be more concerned with the government’s changes in legislation, not least the controversial police and crime bill. Anette Dittert, London bureau chief and senior correspondent of the German public broadcaster ARD, Londoner and declared anglophile, summarized it recently as an assault on British democracy.
I express my concern over entrenched culture warriors in Downing Street and the Cabinet Office upping the temperature of tribal discourse as their breakthrough tactic. In other words, what’s now playing out as Operation Red Meat with attacks on the BBC, deploying the army against migrants and whatever else is in this pocket Baldrick’s cunning plans.
So absorbed are we with Big Dog’s travails, we barely find time to discuss the other two over-entitled (and funnily enough, now actively dis-entitled) white males, Tafkap and Novaxx.
And perhaps, for once, the less said, the better.
It’s all just really poor panto in the end. Though thinking about it, Operation Red Meat and Operation Save Big Dog should definitely feature in a Downing Street post 2019 adaptation of M*A*S*H*:
“I am the essence of overconfidence. I am speculation, adventure, the spirit of pursuit, the stag howling for its winsome, yet anonymous mate. I am the love call of evolution, the perfume and color of the flowers as they offer their pollen to the gentle fuzz of the bees. I am sex itself, gentlemen. I am life, I am appetite!”
Boris Johnson Hawkeye Pierce, M*A*S*H*, Season 7
Finally, as part of our interview series, Sam recently spoke with Christian Polman, UK MD of brand communications and publishing house Looping Group. This will be published shortly, and further discussed in our next episode. Alongside our reflections on What Big Dog Did Next.
Listen to Episode 53: