Ninjutsu (忍術?) sometimes used interchangeably with the term ninpō (忍法?) is the martial art, strategy, and tactics of unconventional warfare and guerrilla warfare as well as the art of espionage purportedly practiced by the shinobi (commonly known outside of Japan as ninja).
I was reflecting on the perennial matter of who actually runs the country today. It seems very much to me that for all the protestations of “change” and “austerity” and “cut”, for all the faux outrage from the left and all the sanctimonious statements of “fixing the mess” from the right, actually nothing has changed other than the style of presentation from those notionally in charge.
I was struggling to find words to describe my frustration with people not being as annoyed with the new coalition government as they should be. The new government has U-turned on many flagship policies, has tried to implement things that even Gordon Brown couldn’t manage and is claiming things like it’s no longer detaining the children of asylum seekers (it still is) and proclaiming loudly that it is returning the Chagos islanders to their home (it still isn’t).
While trying to find the reason for this, it dawned on me that a useful analogy for the recent governments has been martial arts. Tony Blair’s style of government was like WWE wrestling, lots of flash, lots of soundbites, lots of showing off but very little actual martial artistry. However, it is very entertaining to watch, but once you realise there’s nothing under the flash exterior, the whole spectacle goes off very quickly indeed.
Gordon Brown was like a punch drunk, past-his-prime boxer, standing up at news conferences and making grandiose claims that everyone knew he’d never be able to deliver. Completely lacking finesse, he’d shout his impending achievements out like a drunken sailor, which got everybody’s back up and meant that we couldn’t wait to shut him up.
But the new government is considerably more dangerous. Nimble, evasive and not given to grandiose announcements, like a ninja, the first thing you know of the impending pain is when the blade enters your body from an unexpected angle. Like a ninja, there is no apparent enemy to strike back against. Rather than ministers pronouncing Stalinist plans boldly, announcements are slipped out, almost under the cover of darkness.
There is no focal point of attack. With no Stalinist leader determined to grab all the glory, ministers are not determined to make themselves stand out. Attempts to rain blows on the government are avoided, deflected or the target simply disappears. With no great fanfares, no great “initiatives”, there’s no real easy target to hit.
And like a real ninja, the offenders slip into the night, unseen, untouched and their victims lie there wondering what happened.
I think this may be one of the most dangerous governments this country has ever seen.