Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bernard Trafford; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bernard Trafford; Columnist

Article excerpt

"THE secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made."

I've quoted that saying before, attributing it to French playwright Jean Giraudoux. He published it in 1980, the same year in which American comedian George Burns put it in his memoir. However, Wikipedia tells me both probably borrowed it from a 1962 newspaper column by Leonard Lyons quoting actress Celeste Holm.

Who cares? It's a great line, and I was reminded of it by that national treasure, Alan Bennett, asked on Radio 4's The World at One to name Britain's greatest achievement.

Bennett considered Swaledale (loyal Yorkshireman), mediaeval churches and the National Trust. In the end, though, he decided that the thing the English are best at is hypocrisy.

"We glory in Shakespeare, yet we close our public libraries A substantial minority of our children receive a better education than the rest because of the social situation of the parents. Then we wonder why things at the top do not change or society improve. But we know why. It's because we are hypocrites Our policemen are wonderful, provided you are white and middle-class and don't take to the streets."

I'm sorry the writer I've always admired, and over whose works I have cried with laughter, is becoming pretty sour nowadays. (Note to self: now you're middle-aged, check that you're not getting grumpy or cynical).

Hypocrisy: it's a strong word, and not one I generally level at politicians, though I often talk about their lack of self-awareness. They certainly have a knack of failing to see the irony in their ill-considered pronouncements: only a high-pro-file few become truly hypocritical.

They do talk nonsense though!

In this season of pre-election rubbish, I was amused to see both major parties absolutely committed to increasing the amount of housing. The Tories will build 200,000 homes in every year in a new government. Not to be outdone, Ed Miliband is promising a Labour project of building (wait for it) 200,000 new homes a year.

Still, there is clearly a difference between the two parties. Labour says the Tories only look after the rich: the Tories accuse Labour of planning the next class war. …

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