The market, Salonica

The market, Salonica
The market, Salonica

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Not enough loonies

What happens when there are enough loonies?  You have to be polite to them.  Witness the UK Independence Party.  You can’t say they’re loonies anymore.

The Prime Minister, D.C., once said UKIP were loonies.  Now that they’ve won a lot of votes in local council elections, and they’ve become respectable, he can’t say it anymore.  He has to “eat his words.”  Eating your words normally means that you admit you were wrong.  Of course, D.C.’s mistake was to say what he really thought.  This does not mean that what he said was wrong, or that he thinks it was.  He just regrets saying it.  UKIP and its growing band of supporters could very well all be loonies, monster, raving loonies.

Happily or not, when you become respectable and lose the loony tag, you don’t always remain merely respectable.  If there are enough of you, you become right.  The powers-that-were tried to sweep Galileo under the carpet, but now enough people believe that he was right.  The earth is not the centre of the universe.  He is not a loony.  He only appeared to be a loony at the time.  He wasn’t riding a broomstick.  His accusers were.  Of course, how close we should be to Europe is probably not something which astronomers, or theologians, are ever likely to ascertain.

It’s hard never to say something loony, but if you’re a public figure, saying the first thing which comes into your head can be especially embarrassing.  Witness the Harvard history professor who has just said that the economist John Maynard Keynes did not care about society's future because he had no children, and he had no children because he was gay.  

When you’re not so well-known, life is easier.  You can say Margaret Thatcher is a witch, and, if enough people buy it, your song will go straight up the charts.  You don’t even need to write the song yourself.  Songs, like broomsticks, are easily passed down.  UKIP might one day be the centre of our political universe.  It pays not to insult them, or any of your foes, political or otherwise.  Ding dong the loonies are dead.  Long live the loonies.  

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