In today's Daily Mail, the provocative, impeccably informed, premier British commentator (at least that's what it says above his name in the paper - I'm not convinced, myself) Peter Oborne tells us why he thinks David Cameron is the right man to defeat Labour at the next election. It's because of his cricket connections, apparently.
Oborne goes on to explain that he and Cameron once played in the same occasional cricket team. He suggests that Cameron was not the sort to let you down before a game, always chipped in with his round in the pub and doesn't sulk if dropped down the order. Not only that, but he was always on hand to praise the tea ladies or collect up deck chairs after the game.
I like cricket, but Oborne's claim that it's a good way to judge the character of a future Prime Minister strikes me as utterly barmy. Far from sounding like a future leader of the nation, Cameron sounds like the kind of condescending, patronising twerp who is desperate to be liked by everybody - the kind of person who will do anything to get the approval of the people he looks up to.
I don't know if Churchill was a cricket man, but I'd imagine, if he had been, that he would be the sort who does let you down before a game if he found something more important to do. I'm sure he'd get his round in at the pub, but I'm equally sure he'd make certain that the others did too - and insist they include a large brandy and big fat cigar with it. And if he got dropped down the order he'd sulk like there was no tomorrow, but he'd do it with a purpose. Of course he would remain polite and well mannered to the tea ladies, but when it comes to clearing up afterwards, Churchill would be the one directing the likes of Cameron to collect deck chairs. That's what real leaders do. Churchill was never one to seek the approval of his peers, but he was a real leader. Cameron is a follower. The only question is, who leads him?
Oborne also waxes lyrical about Cameron's ability to pick his friends (from all walks of life, he says), but not allow the rich and powerful to swing his integrity and judgment. Oborne then rubbishes hs own point in the next column by saying that Cameron has "humiliated" one of his confidantes, Michael Gove, by bringing the writer and historian (rich and powerful?) William Dalrymple into his little clique. Gove has written a book about the Islamic threat called Celsius 7/7 which Dalrymple denounced as "a simplistic incomprehension, riddled with more factual errors than any other text I have come across". Dalrymple went on to label Gove as "a prominent example of the sort of pundit who has spoon-fed neo-con mythologies to the British for the past few years".
Condescending, patronising, disloyal to his friends and easily influenced by the rich and powerful. Can we think of anyone else we know who is rather like that?