Saturday, 15 January 2011

The Politics of Apology

They say that ‘sorry’ is a Viking word,
Thus one King Alfred just never heard.
He didn’t say ‘sorry’ for all his mistakes,
Like funding the church, or burning those cakes.
It wasn’t a part of his lexicon –
He’d never have used it when he did wrong.
But Alfred was King, he had great dominion –
He couldn’t care less ‘bout public opinion:
No elections to win, no voters to woo,
No mindless minorities desperate to sue,
(He did have to deal with a deluge of Danes,
Riding and raiding across his domains,
Making his people fear lots, and dread more,
In flagrant breach of the Treaty of Wedmore).

But that’s another story, you’d prob’ly get bored
If I told all I know about the Great Pagan Horde.
Instead, let’s just stop for a second and see
If Alfred the Great were a modern MP
Would he be Labour? Would he be Tory?
Maybe Lib Dem and keep changing his story?
What if he got in a terrible scrape
By making a comment that got caught on tape?
He forgets all about his microphone –
An easy mistake for an Anglo- Sax-one.
(Before judging that rhyme, just you be wary - 
I bet none of you have seen a Saxon diction-ary)
By speaking his mind, he causes a stir,
A newspaper frenzy starts to occur.
He’s going to be subject to trial by media,
A bit like that bloke who runs Wikipedia.
Before poor old Alfred’s had time to inhale,
He’s attracted the wrath of the Daily Mail,
Who deem that his comments are deeply offensive,
Throwing his party on the defensive,
Since speaking one’s mind is just unacceptable,
Especially if one’s trying to appear quite electable.

Would Alfred say ‘sorry’? Would he retract?
Say he was joking (though after the fact)?
Would he back down against opposition,
And build a new Abbey to show his contrition?
Or would he stand firm, despite all the grief,
Say it’s his job to hold a belief?
Say those who slavishly toe party lines
Are just empty mouthpieces, lacking in spines,
Who don’t seem to notice habitual hypocrisy,
Such is the state of modern democracy?
Given this dearth of decent debate,
I don’t think there’s room for Alfred the Great.
He’d prob’ly get sick of all of this faking,
Hide in a bog, and go back to baking.

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