So You Want To Be A Member Of Parliament
Harry: Nice to see you again, Dave. Have a seat and tell me what’s on your mind.
David: Well, Harry, I’d like to talk with you in your capacity of chairman of the party’s local constituency. I’ve decided to explore the possibility of going into politics.
Harry: My dear fellow, I’m sure your motives are noble, but if you don’t mind my being frank, you’ve never struck me as the type. Are you sure about this?
David: Yes. It’s occurred to me that there aren’t enough of the right people in the House of Commons. I suspect the reason is that there is simply a shortage of applicants for the openings that arise.
Harry: You’re way off the mark there. Countrywide, we have umpteen of them for every seat that becomes available. You’ve no idea how many people want to get their noses into the trough.
David: Trough? I don’t understand. My idea is to do something to improve the state of this country. I’d like to make a difference.
Harry: We all would, old boy, but most of us don’t manage it, and if you’re hoping to do it in the Westminster madhouse, I think you’ll be disappointed. If you were to get in, you’d have hardly any influence unless you were to climb a fair way up the greasy pole, and even then you’d never be able to do anything of which the civil service Mandarins didn’t approve – and they’re rarely enthusiastic about endorsing whatever the politicians wish to do.
David: Well, that’s a pity. I had visions of myself getting to the front bench and glaring across at the enemy.
Harry: Such innocence, Dave. Let me acquaint you with the famous conversation that took place some time ago between a new arrival in the bear pit and a senior backbencher. The newcomer used the very words you just did and the experienced chap said: “Wrong, my friend. The people facing you form the opposition. The enemy is behind you.”
Harry: Of course. That’s the only location from which they can stab you in the back.
David: You’re beginning to depress me, Harry. I had thought that with my background as an economist –
Harry: Stop! I don’t want to stick the knife in, but we already have six economics experts in the list of applicants for our upcoming vacancy, and you know what they say about such people.
David: No, I don’t. Would you like to tell me?
Harry: Well, you asked for this. The word is that if all the economists in the world were laid end to end, they wouldn’t reach a conclusion. I mean, you have to admit that people in your line have a tendency to predict every possible future scenario, then when one of those forecasts comes true they say: “There, I told you so.” Of course they draw a veil over all the wrong outcomes they foretold.
Davis: I’m so glad you said you didn’t want to stick the knife in. I shudder to think of what you’d say if you did.