Life of Riley: Politics for beginners


Politics for beginners

By Dave Riley

The way Graham Richardson calls it, politics is a mug's game. With sharks like Richo at large maybe it is best to stay out of the water altogether. "Be warned!", insists Richo, "Politics is not for wimps". Marauding feral gangs like him and his mates have small fry like us for breakfast.

My problem with Richardson is that he gives politics such a bad name that we all get tainted with the same brush.

You see, I admit to being a political animal. My inclination extends beyond a casual interest in current affairs. I read the papers and keep up with the goings-on by watching the telly. Asked for an opinion, my viewpoint will be forthcoming.

But an opinion is not worth much unless you can do something with it. Asked to make a statement, I can simply refer you to my underpants. Worn on the head they can be especially vehement.

I also possess a range of gestures suitable for the odd political impulse: "up yours!", "get stuffed!" and "bugga off!" This is pretty simple fare and well within the scope of any gifted amateur who may choose to dabble occasionally. But beyond this I like to look upon myself as a righter of wrongs — usually in some form done to me. There is something terribly dashing about taking up the good fight and going all out to win it — even if Richo and his mates always play dirty.

Most times you lose. And that's a bummer. But if you don't fight, you lose anyway.

Politics may seem like that king of Corinth some years back who was sentenced to roll a heavy stone up a hill, and every time he reached the top the stone rolled down again. While it may seem like that, nowadays stone rolling is limited to a 38-hour week with double time on Sundays — or at least it was before Richo and his mates got to it.

The political beginner may be a little bemused by it all. This is quite understandable. The hectic political whirl seems ready made for gossips and imposters. But the worst mistake the novice can make is to be taken in by a ready handshake and a cheesy grin. Much politics lives on such illicit earnings.

Before you say, to hell with politics, remember that it must be preserved for us as a never-ending menace to those people who own what we don't and who, in order to hang onto it, are prepared to dispatch humanity into battle or abandon it to poverty and starvation for the sake of patriotic honour.

Politics — my politics that is, which is different again from that of Graham Richardson — can prevent them from becoming more barefaced still, so that their sleep is disturbed by at least a few pangs of anxiety. If they must preach morality to their victims and amuse themselves with our suffering, at least let some of their pleasure be spoiled.

So start your introduction to politics here. Let your politics spring from a clean and clear ideal. Leave Richardson to his and make yours that much better. Make such politics a great beginning — but change the world; it needs it.