Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Fat Cat Who Won't Feed His Own...

Our political masters love to make out that they are just normal folk in special jobs. So, when they are not siring kids like the Blairs and Camerons have done while in Downing Street with great PR flourish, they go for the next best thing in terms of image - pets; especially rescue pets.

Long ago, then Vice-President Nixon had trouble over his puppy, allegedly a bribe, but deftly swiped the issue away by appearing on-screen with the mutt demonstrating its cloying affection for Tricky Dicky. Later, across the Atlantic, the urbane Harold Wilson had his Labrador Paddy. Thatcher made up for an absence of  animal pets by having her Cabinet, but subsequently John Major adopted a stray cat (which his successor Tony Blair was at one point forced to prove he hadn't killed), while in the White House Clinton had Socks the cat, even Butcher Bush kept dogs and Obama adopted a rescue dog for his kids.

Keeping up with tradition, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced on taking office that a rescue cat, Larry, would be coming to live in Downing Street. The poor animal duly arrived in a cat cage to be feted by the press (one of whom Larry animatedly scratched) and he was pictured on the Cabinet table with a Union Jack collar patriotically attached. Milking the idea of being a fun-loving guy, Cameron even had himself photographed with an assistant holding Larry out to a visiting President Obama.

The significance of the Obama photocall should not be underplayed - the US president, at his folksy best, is all smiles as he pats the cat, while the assistant looks genuinely pleased with the animal. Safely a few feet back, Cameron smiles but, with his hands firmly on his hips, he sort of gazes at the cat with a mild disdain. A bit like a Victorian father with his kids, he'll try to look interested if he has to, but for God's sake, don't ask him to actually touch the creature himself and no - do not, under any circumstances, expect him to hold it.

And now the truth is out. Fat Cat Cameron, multi-millionaire, happy to portray himself as an animal lover, does not even pay to feed the cat. His own cat. In spite of his cash, in spite of milking the publicity shots, he won't stump up for even a can of kat-o-meat or a box of biscuits. No, this rich man makes his staff pay for his cat. And now he has ostentatiously agreed that they can hold a quiz evening to raise money for poor Larry's upkeep. Dependent on the random vicissitudes of charity, poor Larry needs to remember the words of an old Labour leader, "That if the Tories win...I warn not fall sick..."  Who, after all, will meet the vet fees?

Quite unsurprisingly, just like his past wheeze of trying to be seen as a keen environmentalist by cycling to work while a large car drove behind him carrying his briefcase, Cameron's attempt to pose as a lover of fur (living and domesticated as opposed to the creatures he likes to hunt and shoot), now stands exposed as just another tawdry publicity stunt. As if we hadn't guessed...

So spare a thought for Larry as he contemplates an uncertain future. He was originally obtained to help catch rats that were to be found living in Downing Street. Clearly, his work is not yet done...

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