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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Britain's "Ceausescu moment"?

Something strange is going on in British politics – the electorate seems now to be developing a mind of its own! 
The British political class has always seen its electorate as reliable (if not malleable) - until the last week or so. For the past two years the "Leader of the Opposition", Jeremy Corbyn, has been undermined by attacks from New Labour Loyalists and subjected to a relentless barrage of ridicule by the mainstream media - and the polls have consistently showed the party and its new leader slipping further in public support....even as its membership numbers hugely increased.....
Theresa May, the new Prime Minister after the Brexit vote, had stated on numerous occasions that she intended to lead the government through to its legal term of May 2020 but, ultimately, could not resist the temptation of an incredible 20% lead in the polls and suddenly, on 18 April, called a General Election for 8 June. 
As if by magic, the opinion polls (for what they are worth) started to show dramatic changes – with Labour gaining a full 10 points at the expense of UKIP and LibDems and the Conservative voting intentions dropping a few points.

The subsequent publication of the two main party manifestos was very much to Labour’s advantage  with detailed policies attracting support – whereas the Conservatives seemed to be offering only a much-repeated mantra of “strong and stable leadership” (and yet more cuts). See this useful comparison .of the various manifestos. 
And Jeremy Corbyn's higher profile has also worked to his advantage - showing him as a man of integrity...... 

And yet the Prime Minister seems scared of debating with her opponents – steadfastly refusing all but the most carefully managed of appearances and discussions. Astonishingly, at last night’s highly publicised debate in which her Home Secretary substituted for her, the studio audience openly laughed at her invitation to “Judge us on our record”! (and don't just watch the short video" read the text!!)

This could be a veritable Ceausescu moment - suddenly, there seems to be a contest – although I can’t share the optimism of my leftist friends. Too many of the leftist votes are stacked up where they won’t make much difference. Tony Barnett has a good overview hereBut the incident also reminds me of Brecht’s poem – electing another people

This article suggests that independent writers are having an unusually large impact on the election….
Highly partisan, semi-professional political blogs are being shared more widely online than the views of mainstream newspaper commentators. Websites run by a publicity-shy English tutor in Yorkshire, an undergraduate student in Nottingham and a former management consultant in Bristol are publishing some of the most shared articles about the UK general election, ranking alongside and often above the BBC, the Guardian and the Independent.

The three sites are Another Angry Voice; Evolve Politics; and The Canary - with the first being particularly well organised thematically eg this post which deals with the accusation of Corbyn and the Labour.party being ideologues. The article has been picked up by one of my favourite bloggers, Craig Murray, (who apparently gets 800,000 hits a month on his blog)

They represent an interesting development - a rebellion at last against the distorted prejudices being peddled even by once-respected British newspapers.......People have been talking for several years about the coming obsolescence of newspapers. At last I can see what they mean.....

I don't like sites which are too partial - but most newspapers pretend to an impartiality they don't actually have - for reasons varying from editorial control. corporate funding to journalistic laziness. It's about time we had a proper discussion about how journalists and the media can better hold those with power in the public and private sectors to account.
A starting point would be an end to the ceaseless drivel and drisel of "news" - and a strengthening of diagnostics and narratives about products, policies, companies, parties and countries  

Update; The Economist is normally too glib and superficial for me but this overview of the election campaign gives an excellent historical perspective....  
and this site confirms that talk of a possible Labour upset is...simple nonsense......I predict a Tory majority of 96

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