Wednesday, June 10, 2009


A couple of quick links, and some thoughts about the current state of British politics...

First, it's good to see the recent success of Sweden's pirate party. The one spark of life in an election that otherwise was pretty dismal, not least in Britain with the implosion of Labour (in itself no bad thing) but the absence of any decent alternative (hence votes for Ukip and the vile BNP).

Second, on the political mood in the UK today, K-Punk is excellent in suggesting resonances with the late 1970s and the world recently conjured up so expressively by David Peace. In his words, "It seems as if we are tumbling and stumbling back towards a version of Callaghan's era, living through a negative 1979... tumbling and stumbling out through a political-economic event horizon that marks the end of neoliberalism."

The difference is that in 1979, at neoliberalism's outset, Thatcherism did offer some kind of alternative (in the guise, of course, of "no alternative"). Politics, for better or worse, was still alive and well. And even in 1997, when Labour came to power finally almost by default, as John Major's Tories crumbled under charges of sleaze not unlike (if less widespread than) those of today, Blair et. al. did at least seem to stand for something, an "ethical foreign policy" for instance, even if those principles were soon revealed as simply an extension of the New Labour brand.

Now, however, politics is no longer about politics... It's about petty corruption. Or it's about a new constitutional project, a project to reform the voting system and (finally) finish off the reform of the House of Lords.

The turn to constitutionalism is interesting, however much it is clearly also a mark of some desperation on the part of a party that has run out of ideas and hope. It's interesting because what is at stake is the shape of the body politic itself, which is why its tied to the now wholesale disrepute of the representational system triggered most recently by stories of duckhouses and the like.

So maybe, just maybe, we are truly entering interesting times.

No comments: