Peter Cook versus Ian Duncan Smith: Now That Would Be A Speech Worth Watching

Peter Cook pic

The late awesome Peter Cook, Comedy Titan and Tormentor of the Establishment

I’ve just now reblogged Mike’s article from Vox Political, ‘DWP Debate Highlights Duncan Smith’s Failure to Perform’, describing at length the near total and absolute failure of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms. They have gone well over budget, and over time. Unfortunately, time and money are not the only things that they have cost. Tens of thousands of people had died in hunger and poverty thanks to RTU’s and his Coalition collaborators calculated destruction of the welfare state. Mike’s piece is worth reading for the video of Glenda Jackson laying into Smith in a devastating critique, which includes comments on the man’s personal sanctimonious demeanour. To which he responds by giving his usual unctuous, contemptuous and contemptible smirk that serves him instead of a reasoned rebuttal.

It reminded me of Peter Cook’s routine laying into Harold MacMillan when performing in cabaret at his club, The Establishment. Cook regularly used to perform spoofing MacMillan personally. In one of these acts, he plays MacMillan replying publicly to a letter he has received from a senior citizen, worried that his pension is no longer big enough to support him. After reading out the letter, Cook as MacMillan, says, ‘To which I reply,’ there is then heard a ripping noise as he tears the letter up, ‘Be of good cheer’. He then makes a very funny, satirical speech exactly in the manner adopted by politicians like the Conservatives when trying to tell you that despite the abundant evidence to the contrary, you are somehow better off.

This was at a time when satire was generally new, shocking and subversive. There was legislation expressly preventing comedians from performing impressions on television without the consent of the people they lampooned. When Private Eye first came out, it was seen as very suspect and only a few newsagents initially stocked it. The culture of deference to those in authority was so strong that when Robin Day wrote his autobiography in the 1980s, Grand Inquisitor, he was still shocked and enraged at That Was The Week That Was to describe it as ‘deplorable’.

Cook challenged that automatic deference to authority. And he wasn’t afraid to do it to their faces.

Supermac once turned up in the front row to watch one of Cook’s performances. The great man noticed, and homed in on him. He moved right in front of MacMillan, and said in his voice something along the lines of ‘And so I turn up, smiling stupidly when someone is sending me up’.

Watching RTU smirking inanely in front of Glenda Jackson, I wished Cook was still with us and was ready and willing to do the same to him. He’d have had a field day metaphorically disembowelling a pompous, incompetent nonentity like RTU.

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6 Responses to “Peter Cook versus Ian Duncan Smith: Now That Would Be A Speech Worth Watching”

  1. Mike Sivier Says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    My brother the Beast and I seem to be forming an impromptu tag team, but it’s impossible for me not to reblog a piece suggesting what Peter Cook could have done to Iain Duncan Smith.

  2. Johannah Buchan Says:

    A pompous, incompetent nonentity maybe but one with the power of life & death over the most vulnerable in society. A power which he has wielded with apparent relish. Is this perhaps because he has been such a failure in other aspects of his life?
    I have been interested in politics since about 1960 & I have never known a govt of such vicious malevolence. They’re even worse than thatcher if that’s possible. Allied with their incompetence I really despair for the future of this country.

  3. stewilko Says:

    Reblogged this on stewilko's Blog.

  4. royboxer Says:

    Reblogged this on royboxer and commented:
    Quality from Mike Soviet, top blogger.

  5. A6er Says:

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

  6. anon Says:

    Something that needs to be confronted loudly is that the gov’t has now SET A PRECEDENT THAT DISABLED AND VULNERABLE CITIZENS MAY BE HOUNDED INTO EARLY GRAVES AS ‘COLLATERAL DEATHS’ to save money and appease Daily Mail readers.

    UNLESS LABOUR EXPLICITLY CONDEMS AND PLEDGES A ZERO TOLERANCE OF THIS PRACTICE (including a full public inquiry with prosecution of every person, great or small, who can be implicated in this mass corporate manslaughter) it would seem that their inaction will be due to them intending to maintain the precedent, keeping their options open on continuing such practices whenever expedient.

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