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Showing posts from October, 2018

Time Future contained in Time Past

"Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past."TS Eliot
Eliot is, I think, one of the greatest of poets, and as my own eye is distracted by ever more intractable problems in our political process, I have often taken comfort in the more nuanced and universal eye of a truly great poet.
This blog eschews detailed futurology, the present is difficult enough, and the future in detail cannot be accurately predicted. Yet there are ways we can think about the future. We can identify trends, we can make general statements, and as humans, most of all, we can use our imagination to shape the future.
Neither is this blog particularly relativist. There are some universal truths, and saying "it ain't so" does not change them. We can use the scientific method to establish facts about our existence. No matter how powerfully contrary opinions may be expressed, the facts remain supported by analysis and evidence, when mere…

Justice and Civility

For some time public figures have received threats. Rarely do they take them seriously, and in fact only very occasionally are they serious. However in recent years the political discourse has grown very ugly. Although neo-Fascists and populists have fanned the flames of popular hatred, in fact the crisis of "civility" goes back a pretty long way.  After forming a coalition with the Conservatives in the UK, the Liberal Democrat leader faced significant abuse: dog shit through the letter box and all the rest of it. This routine and increasingly extreme abuse against MPs has now become simply an occupational hazard. In the 1950s MPs were generally respected, which is why the profumo scandal was so impactful, but now they are pretty universally denigrated and derided. In fact I believe that the majority of MPs are decent and honourable people who by-and-large deserve our respect, there are very few prepared to express that point of view. 

However, it is fair to say that those MP…

The politics of banality

The essential circus of party politics in the UK is never more cringe making than at party conference time. The spectacle of socially awkward, physically clumsy individuals trying to get "down with the kids" in a vain attempt to assert a non-existent popularity is always a fairly barf-making sight. Even the best political figures tend to feel uneasy about the false ballyhoo of the conference set-piece speech; I recall Paddy Ashdown coming off stage amid a minor fireworks display and muttering a gentle imprecation at the slightly surreal farce he had been forced to take part in.

Neither Theresa May nor Boris Johnson are particularly good political figures. May is an exceptionally awkward personality: "a bloody difficult woman" as other Conservatives have long noticed. Her management style is authoritarian and insecure, her personality lacks empathy and is unusually defensive under pressure. By contrast the extrovert Boris Johnson is a warmer figure, but his charm is …