Just what are those teeth for?

Ian Hamilton on television’s punishing march to the polls

‘I do not come to Lilliputia with a measuring stick.’ This was Gore Vidal, a week or two ago, when asked to say which of our two main parties was the more right-wing. The British election, in Gore’s lofty view, is ‘parish-pump politics’, a juvenile charade compared to America’s great billion-dollar circuses. Even our sleaze strikes him as laughably small-scale: ‘just kindergarten stuff’. In Vidal’s native land there is no need of cash-for-questions. The deal there is cash-for-answers. And the answers are delivered in the form of ‘special legislation’. In America sleaze makes a difference.

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