This blog has become too serious of late, and tonight I'd planned to redress the balance. I was going to post about women with hairy legs and my favorite cracker jokes - but then Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. In such circumstances, any attempt at humour would be deeply inappropriate. Its not so much that an elegant and handsome woman has been gunned down by a terrorist. Many other human beings will also have been murdered today, 20 in the same incident. What's shocking is that this is a direct attack on democracy, the form of government that underpins our way of life. Benazir Bhutto and her husband have been accused of corruption in the past, and her two previous periods as Prime Minister of Pakistan were not covered in glory - but it is deeply disturbing that the likely winner of a nuclear power's imminent election should have been killed in the street. This terrible deed will lead to the loss of many other lives - especially if the murder is linked to an internal Pakistani source.
The only other issue in today's newspapers that demands that I post about is the growing divide between 'town' and 'country'. I usually worry about this after going to watch the local hunt setting off. The really worrying aspect of this is that the 'bullying' urban majority don''t realise how intolerant they have become. No better than the fifth form bullies who tried to force me to carry their satchels down the long flight of steps to the school bus when I was in the first form. They can impose their will simply because they are bigger. Alan Cochrane has written a good piece on this issue in today's Telegraph.
Democracy is a very complex creature. It can only blossom (or even survive) if the minority has respect for the decision of the majority. This requires that the majority acts with reason, consideration for and understanding of the minority's position. Power imposed without reason creates contemptuous disrespect and simmering resentment. If this takes hold, democracy breaks down. The victim fights back. My reaction was to smash my right fist into the fifth form bully's face - and I had no further trouble. But I was a strong and fiery 11 year old. Not all of us are temperamentally suited to make this sort of response. Tonight, democracy is under threat in Pakistan, in a way that we have never experienced in Britain. Let's hope that we never reach that position.