Thursday, October 17, 2013

Blogging On

Blogging has become more and more intermittent of late.

There are two reasons, one weak and one perhaps less so.

The weak reason is that I have been travelling even more than usual and have simply got out of the habit. 

The other reason is that this blog has its origin in my political activism, and although I am more motivated than ever to try to put forward a platform for economic, social and political change, the fact is that I am much less sure that conventional politics in the UK can deliver necessary reform.

The Liberal Democrats have been a great ideas factory. Many of their ideas were so powerful that they were adopted by the party's political competitors: most recently the increase in the tax-free rate, but also in many other things, such as the independence of the Bank of England.

Most of all the Lib Dems were the party that recognised the deep problems of the British constitution. The position of the citizen, which we call a "subject" in the UK, has been undermined by over mighty government and over mighty corporations. The need to create a more open society lay that the heart of the policy ideology of the party. 

Now, I am no longer so sure. The pragmatism of government has damaged the very soul of the party. We have taken the blame for unpopular policies, but failed to explain the value of fundamental reform- our core values- such as clearer English representation within the UK, which would actually, in my view, be popular. Our friends have left us, the party is down to a core group of activists. We are so few that we can not fight the general election in every seat: targeting has gone from a matter of pragmatic choice, to a matter of necessity.

Yet the weakness of the Lib Dems is only half the story. The fact is that the Liberal Democrats still remain the most thoughtful political party in the UK- but the UK isn't listening. 

The visceral anti-politics mood is throwing up even more damaging problems: UKIP in the party political sphere, but rent-a-mob responses to any issue of the day from fracking, to planning, to many other controversies. Intelligent debate gets left behind in a morass of simplistic cat-calling. As the world grows more complicated, British Society demands ever more simple solutions.

The result is a confused and leaderless country.

I have the privilege of living in Estonia- a country pioneering in its use of technology and uncompromising in its understanding of a free society. The UK is already 20 years behind Estonia, and far from catching up, it is falling ever further behind. I do not believe it can catch up in my life time.

So the focus of this blog must change. Less British and political; more Universal and social. More aware that the debate is already beyond the UK's capacity to contribute; less exhorting to the British political class, that can not respond the the required level of change. The UK is now in the remedial class, and I prefer to work with the best kids at school.

While that may not eliminate the time pressure that I still face, I hope that it will give a sharper edge to this blog, which is now in its eighth year, with nearly 1200 posts made and over 200,000 unique readers.  

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