Tuesday 14 May 2013

A bit of olive oil on troubled waters

Please don't trouble yourself reading this post if you're irritated by my occasional  political pontificating or do I mean posturing?

Obviously I'm gutted about Brighton and Hove Albion being knocked out of the play-offs last night.  I'm not a footballing man, but you have to support your home team.  That's why I wore my shirt for the first leg on Friday night.

I'm even more gutted that my favourite radio station has been closed by its owners.  Q Radio has been my station of choice for several years now, churning out the sort of music I like with DJs who don't interfere too much.  A second choice is BBC Radio 6...but if anyone has any suggestions for alternatives, that would be much appreciated. Muchly.

Evidently, I am a grammar guru.  I scored nine out of ten in the BBC quiz here.  It would have been ten, but I forgot that lesson about reading the question before answering...something I've not had to do for a few years.  Anyway, I realise that I may be better at knowing good grammar than I am at putting it into action.  You just have to read this blog to discover that.

The BBC is on form at the moment.  I read this article - 10 things about Hell.  It was prompted by Dan Brown's new book.  And if you know anything about Dan Brown's books, they are hell to read and then even worse when translated into a film.

I hope Rupert Murdoch doesn't come chasing me for quoting this interview with Jamie Oliver in the Sunday Times:

"He is known as the cheeky Essex charmer who can rustle up a culinary feast for friends and family in the blink of an eye. This weekend the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver showed a political side, saying he was disillusioned and frustrated with the government.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Sunday Times, Oliver, who employs thousands of people, attacked prisoner reforms, suggested that school meals were not being funded properly and said that although he did not support UKIP he loved the fact that the party was “stirring it up”....

....While he admitted that he did not know much about UKIP’s policies, he observed that “with Thatcher dying and seeing how we reacted to her death and then how UKIP did over the last weekend I think it is part of the same stuff. I think the public reacts to clarity and single-mindedness. I know I should be careful what I say but I do believe politics has got more squashed in the middle and samey.

“What I love is that UKIP are stirring it up. Now they have stirred it up they have got my interest and I will listen to them and I don’t think anyone would before . . . It is a clear sign from the public that they want someone to have a view.

“I think the public want prisons sorted out properly, I think they want hospitals sorted out properly. We have tried a few things in the recession and I think they are question-marking whether we are going down the right path. I think UKIP has changed the path for the next two years.”

Now apart from a disastrous meal or two at his restaurants, I have to say I rather like his cooking.  And in fairness, it;s a long time since he was just a chef...he's quite a campaigner.  I think generally he has quite a lot (of good things) to say.

Unfortunately, I think what he is saying is both probably right, and probably quite dangerous.  He is 'bang-on' in saying the two major parties are occupying the same centrist ground...and have done for quite some time.  Just before the last election I went to a presentation where the economic policies of the two parties were analysed in depth.  The difference in their spending forecasts was around £5bn.  Now whilst that sounds a lot and is a little more than you and I take home every week, it is in fact a tiny, tiny, tiny amount when on an annual basis the government spends £720 bn per annum or there abouts. If my maths is right, we're talking less than 0.2%.  So whilst the Tories like to portray themselves as the politicians who are careful with our money, in fact they're no different to the Ed Miller Band.  And vice-versa.  my best guess is that The Eton Rifles are much more likely to stick to their guns because they have an elitist view that they and they alone know what's best, whereas Ed's gang would probably have wavered.

Jamie suggests that people like clarity and single-mindedness...he may be right...although many would argue that the current bunch in charge have acted with single-mindedness.  What I think, and have said before, is that people appreciate leaders with vision.  And that is where the current political generation is lacking.  The concept of vision.  What is Britain's role in the world, how should our society be shaped, what sort of communities do we want to live in...not just now but in 25 years time.  If a political party could and would shape that vision, I suspect they would garner enormous support...with a few enemies.

But until then, the danger is that crackpot organisations like UKIP will focus on a few populist policies and actually prevent a new order emerging.