Manic Irrelevance Syndrome (also known as Barmy Virus)

The Politician’s Curse – MIS also known as Barmy Virus

If are a politician already thinking about retirement, you have probably made a mistake in your career choice. A good career politician passes away quietly while in office, as by the time they reach the traditional retirement age they are probably doing very little of any use. Retirement also means an end to the gravy train that is politics; sure, you get a decent pension and probably a comfortable lifestyle, but unless you find your way into a cushy little job that involves doing very little but turning up to dinners and functions, you will end up feeling lost, lonely, and ignored. This is the classic breeding ground for Manic Irrelevance Syndrome – an illness than can affect retired politicians.

MIS, also known as Barmy Virus, is a serious disorder than has been shown to be prevalent among retired and defeated politicians. It is thought to be more prevalent among those who have reached high office and then suffered a fall from grace or decided that the time was right to quit. If you take a look at the crusty old codgers that inhabit the backbenches of Parliament, you are bound to see ex-ministers who are suffering from MIS. The main effect of this syndrome is a form of delusion, the symptoms of which include:

• the belief that you always did things better and made better decisions than your successors;
• the belief that you need to write a book about your time in politics and dish out all the dirt on your colleagues that you have so far kept to yourself;
• an inability to begin any sentence without the phrase, ‘When I was Minister for…’; before embarking on a long and rambling collection of drivel that nobody is interested in; and
• an unbreakable belief that the media and public still wants to hear what you have to say.

You are unlikely to know that you are suffering from this ailment because when your colleagues and/or family try to tell you, you will see then as well-meaning but ill-informed people who do not understand the situation. Thankfully, there are other options for the politician leaving the job, whether it is voluntarily or not. The private sector often snaps up ex-politicians in the belief that they will be useful people to lobby for industry interests. If you can wangle one of these jobs you are likely to set yourself up for a long and distinguished career, however you should realise that even this job will not give you the spotlight you probably crave, and the onset of MIS is still a distinct possibility.

The tired and tested method of avoiding MIS is to keep on being re-elected and to have a long and relatively anonymous career on the back-benches. If you decide to seek responsibilities on the front bench you need maintain this elevated position (and get back as quickly as possible if for some reason you lose your portfolio) to avoid this condition taking hold. If you reach the dizzying heights of being Prime Minister or President, then it is scientifically proven that you have a 99% chance of suffering from MIS. The likely bloody coup that will have been responsible for your demise will have left indelible scars on you and will have made you permanently bitter and twisted. It is, unfortunately, a cross that you will have to bear once you no longer occupy that esteemed position. You will go to your grave muttering such sentences as:

‘If only they’d listened to me.’

‘History will judge me, not you bastards.’

‘In my day we wouldn’t have farted about, we’d have made a decision. We had real statesmen then – like me.’

‘When I was Prime Minister the country was in a far better state than it is now. Pass me another glass of wine.’

‘Has anybody seen my false teeth? In fact has any seen my sanity?’

About George Fripley
I am a writer who enjoys writing humour, satire, poetry and sometimes a bit of philosophy. I live in Perth, Western Australia and occasionally get a poem or article published. It's all good fun! I have two books available for unwary readers, Grudges, Rumours and Drama Queens- The Civil Servant's Manual (This contains all that anybody could ever want to know about why government runs so slowly) and More Gravy Please! - the Politician's Handbook. (available through Amazon)

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