Friday, 1 January 2010

New year thoughts

2010, eh?

Personally 2009 has been frustrating; consolidation and steady development, no big changes to the pattern of life. The new year and decade must see some continuities and some departures from previous form - once I am back to full health (have been bedevilled by a lingering, never-quite-dissipating cold for a few months now), certain planning can commence. The much-delayed move out of home, the consideration of other teaching posts that might be available. The desire to find more real-life forums and connections - in terms of politics, my cultural interests and love. There has been progress; there are ventures I feel part of, but there is so much more of life to be experienced. Self-doubt, whilst ineradicable in totality, must be held in check.

Some things to be thankful for: Zero Books (providing much-needed pause for thought), Sunderland Green Party (however incipient and embryonic), Star and Shadow Cinema (the sort of organisation to be fought for), BBC4 (from Meades to that Postgate doc. to some much else, it sets the standard for civilised British broadcasting), music and film (so much - to be discussed in a subsequent year round-up post).

It is difficult to look forward with optimism to the global or national picture; the prospect of David Cameron in Downing Street sickens. It is to be hoped that he will scrutinised by the media, but not really expected. It is also to be hoped that a non-New Labour left wing alliance could be forged. A move that might have been enabled by Brown being bold enough to pledge a referendum on Proportional Representation on polling day. This sort of boldness might have offered a slight redemption amid the dying embers, enabling Labour to claim some mantle of radicalism that they could develop in opposition to a Cameron government.

The choice has to be: vote for a Green or other socialist candidate who is sitting, genuinely Left and non-NuLab Labour candidates or LibDems. Cameron must not be allowed to gain a Blair style majority if he is to win.


  1. Happy new year Tom

    I’ve been thinking about this as well. It seems to me we Brits are in a bit of a Clinton trap: should we keep voting for the quasi conservative to beat off the hardline conservatives or vote for unelectable candidates?

    As for the lib dems, they really seem to be floundering. They seem to bemired in a personality cult around Nick Clegg, even as their popularity continues to slip. I think David Cameron cornered the market in sleazy creeps passing themselves off as credible charmers. But as social democracy seems to be vindicated through Europe’s recovery, Clegg continues to support increased economic liberalism. Which is bad enough in itself, even if his soundbytes weren't so idiotic 'Thatcherism was supported by those with no heart and opposed by those with no brain' WTF?

    I’ll probably vote either SNP or Labour. Whilst they have been disastrous in some ways, Labour have achieved some things for poor people. Certainly, wealth has not divided as it would have under a Tory government and if the Tories do lose this election, I think that (ironically enough) the political right may start petitioning for a voting system that would probably be to their disadvantage. However, I think SNP offer the best choice for regional democracy.

  2. Happy new year.

    That Clegg soundbite is classic Blairism; a wishy-washy 'liberalism' that will not commit to any changes. The much-praised Cable is loath to suggest significant changes. They may suggest some relatively social democratic policies (certainly in redistributive taxes, where they are on a different planet to the Tories), but then undermine this with some contradictory policy stance.

    The frustrating thing is that, under Kennedy, they seemed to achieving a synthesis of social democracy and libertarianism that placed them unambiguously in territory to the left of Labour. Where then they seemed a development of the Shirley Williams / Roy Jenkins / David Steel Lib-Lab tradition, they now seem to have moved towards a more opportunist David Owen / Tony Blair position, that is about winning that ill-defined 'centre-ground'. One doesn't trust Clegg, not simply because of his looking and sounding like Cameron (itself at least of some concern), but because he is not offering any clear political direction but contradictory centrist posturing.

    I remain willing to listen to what Labour and the Liberal Democrats have to say, nationally and locally. They are going to be the only even nominally left-of-centre parties standing in Sunderland, I assume. The temptation to vote Labour is greater now that they are distanced from Rupert Murdoch (though of course not by their own design - and the tragedy again is that they decided in the mid-90s they needed Murdoch*), but I will find it hard to do so, considering the unswerving adherence to the neo-conservative economics and 'liberal interventionism'. There is, of course, the desire to keep the Conservatives out - Sunderland Central may be a relatively close contest and I would feel happy to vote for Chris Mullin were he to stand again. Whilst I am observing a slight resurgence in left-ish rhetoric and association within Labour since the economic crisis (some younger bloggers now using terms like 'Bevanite' and 'socialist'), it remains to be seen whether deeds will follow. Any policy changes now under Brown seem too late. He could have chosen to back the BBC / NHS values against those of Murdoch / profit much earlier, when popular and call an election on those terms. But the Faustian pact with kapital was all.

    * Murdoch & The Sun - a million fewer readers now, in the internet age, yet also the sense that his values have permeated much more of the wider British media since the 1980s...