That Chris Grayling – there’s a man we should always listen to. Should any American readers be popping by, this is an example of good old British sarcasm.
According to a YouGov survey being reported on this morning, the British love of sarcasm and passive-aggressive putdowns is a mystery to most Americans. If you were, perhaps, to say, “That president you elected, he’s a real humdinger”, Trump supporters might think you believe their man to be an outstanding person. Whereas you have just found a seemingly polite way to call him a fool.
According to YouGov, “half of Americans wouldn’t be able to tell that a Briton is calling them an idiot”. The example given is the phrase “With the greatest respect”, which most Americans believe stands for “I am listening to you”, while passive-aggressive Brits take it to mean “I think you are an idiot”.
Personally, I’m not sure this survey has taken account of the Trump era, in which “I think you are an idiot” risks becoming the motto of the US moment. State employees going without a wage because of Trump’s temper tantrum government shutdown in a row over his ridiculous Mexican wall could be forgiven for thinking that, and much worse.
But now let’s turn to Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary – an ironic title for a man who seems incapable of transporting anyone anywhere, other than to the shores of despair in a leaky rubber dinghy.
This morning, the transport secretary of no delight pops up on the front page of the Daily Mail, warning under a doomy headline: “Minister: wrecking Brexit will let in the far right.”
The Mail used to be ardently pro-Brexit, but under its new editor is a bit less ardently pro-Mrs Maybe’s dodgy Brexit deal. Grayling – a man who is never seen out and about without an attached “Failing” – tells the Mail that Brexit it is “too important for political game-playing”. Well, that’s a mirthless laugh for a start, as the whole thing is a political game of two bitterly squabbling halves.
Grayling adds that if MPs reject Mrs Maybe’s deal in Tuesday’s vote, “we risk a break with the British tradition of moderate, mainstream politics that goes back to the Restoration in 1660”.
The Flailing One then adds that MPs need to remember that “Britain, its people and its traditions are the mother of Parliaments”.
Although if they are waiting for a non-arriving train on a tatty northern platform or reading about the ferry companies with no ferries that Grayling has just given £13m of public money in case of a no-deal Brexit, they might wonder why they should listen to the Father of all Cock-ups.
Just last week, Grayling failed properly to organise a lorry traffic jam in Kent, even after dangling more than £500 of public money in front of the lorry drivers’ noses.
I think we can safely greet Grayling’s scaremongering words with the greatest respect.
On a closing wider point free of sarcasm or irony – that other British weakness – it is fair to that right now we seem to be a divided, intolerant, ranting country, driven to the edge of sanity by one referendum. Is that a sensible way to run a country? No more so that Mr Trump’s entirely reasonable tantrum* over building a wall.
My favourite witticism about that wall was being shared on social media yesterday. “How do Mexicans feel about Trump’s wall? Oh, they’ll get over it.”
*Brit sarcasm alert for any passing Americans