All hail the pig-slaughtering, pencil-grabbing strongmen!

Welcome to Declassified, a weekly column looking at the lighter side of politics.

You know who’s great? Authoritarian leaders, that’s who.

They don’t take any messing about. They aren’t swayed by modern, woke nonsense like upholding the rule of law or treating people who don’t share their values with a modicum of respect. But most of all, they are lovely, clever people who just happen to be very good at slaughtering animals.

How do I know this? Well, in part thanks to Viktor Orbán’s fabulous new website. It allows you to follow his journey (a word that crops up quite often) through politics, haircuts and suits, as well as introducing Orbán “The Countryman,” “The Intellectual” and “The Sportsman.” Alas, there’s not a section praising whichever poor saps were ordered to put this hagiographic claptrap together.

There is, however, also a “fun facts” section, including such gems as him being “a master of pig slaughter;” that he “keeps some ties that Silvio Berlusconi gave him” (I assume he means neckties not cable ties, but it’s hard to know when Berlusconi’s involved); and that as a student “he made money by packing chicken” and that his boss in the chicken factory was János Áder, now president of Hungary. What a pair of pluckers.

Speaking of leaders who are great at everything, Russian television has been showering praise on Vladimir Putin after the president … managed to stop a pencil rolling off the end of a table!

“Here is actual footage of how he caught a pencil that was rolling off the table,” said Vladimir Solovyov, the presenter of TV show “Moscow. Kremlin. Putin,” adding that “his reactions were wonderful.” Of course, you don’t get a job on a show with that title if you’re not a spectacular brown-noser, so this was merely par for the course for Solovyov.

I’m sure we’re all looking forward to pencil-grabbing being an event at the next Russia-hosted Olympics along with bare-chested horse riding and violent crackdowns on peaceful protest.

Speaking of which, British MPs this week backed a controversial piece of legislation that would give police greater powers to crack down on protests.

The legislation could mean 10 years in jail for anyone taking part in a non-violent protest that is judged to be too noisy (which is fair enough and should be extended to anyone having a party with 2 kilometers of my flat) or too annoying. Although in a move that could backfire spectacularly, Michael Gove voted in favor of a bill that cracks down on people being irritating!

CAPTION COMPETITION

“The new version of Riverdance looks rubbish.”

Can you do better? Email [email protected] or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

Last week we gave you this photo:

Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag (there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze).

“Well thanks for that guys. I look forward to getting both your scoops on the mother of all divorces,” by John Cummings

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.

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