Ben Elton’s 2009 book Meltdown is the story of the rise and fall of a City trader and his rich university friends. It is, as becomes apparent quite early on in the book, a story of the New Labour years from the view of the upper-middle class: the easy money, the convenient ability to earn bucket loads of cash while easing liberal guilt by telling yourself you are doing something which helps others, and the expectation that everything inevitably will continue getting better. Continue reading Short book review – Meltdown by Ben Elton
This article was published on Palatinate
After sudden, brutal, unforeseen disasters we seek answers in order to tell ourselves it will never happen again. We expect to be able to halt nature, that with enough will we can protect ourselves from a callous and uncaring world. After the Labour Party’s defeat, as crushing as it was because it was so unexpected, the temptation is there to prescribe a remedy to cure all ills. The SNP’s tartan tsunami washed away the likes of Douglas Alexander, the party’s election chief. UKIP’s purple tornado swirled across left-behind areas of the country Labour would previously have called its heartlands. Meanwhile, Labour could not thaw through the Tory vote in the South, which remained blue as voters gave the prospect of a Miliband government an icy reception. Now that the battle is lost, the war has broken loose within Labour about how to win lost votes with a shift to the right, or the left; or away from metropolitan values or towards them. Continue reading Labour’s dilemma
This article was published on Shifting Grounds Nationalism is not really about your own nation at all. If the world were one nation, the term would not exist. It relies on the other. It defines itself not on its own terms, but by comparing itself with the outside, with the enemy.
All nationalism is nationalism whether it is left-wing or right-wing, whether led by Hugo in Caracas, Marine in Paris, Nigel in Kent, or indeed by Nicola in Edinburgh. It relies on mythology and narrative; a semi-fictitious story to unite an imagined community, with the rough contradictory edges smoothed away. Continue reading General Election 2015: The perils of nationalisms
Two big parties struggling to cope with the exit of bipartisan politics, widespread detest of the elites, a ruling conservative government claiming the economy has turned around, arguing against the left who focus on inequality and unrestrained power at the top… there are several similarities between politics in Spain and the United Kingdom in what is an election year for both. Continue reading The UK election from Spain
Imagine if the United Kingdom had been affected rather differently by the economic crisis. Imagine if we had been so badly hit that 54% of the country had moved to an inferior social class, while over half of young people were still unemployed. In this imaginary United Kingdom students are desperate to emigrate and work elsewhere in the EU to escape.
Meanwhile, in a series of corruption scandals, the governing Conservative party is going to court and has seen its treasurer sent to prison in relation to allegations of secret illegal slush funds used to pay for party headquarters, campaigns, and even the Prime Minister’s clothing. The Labour party has faced its own accusations about regional politicians and dodgy use of local government funds. Continue reading Yes we can?
“Spain is different” was a slogan composed by Spanish minister Manuel Fraga in the 1960s to persuade the first planeloads of tourists to visit the sun-kissed nation. Spain at the time was under the rule Franco, a former ally of Hitler and Mussolini who won power with their help in a bloody civil war and cemented his grip on it for the next four decades through brutal repression of political opponents. While Britain enjoyed the swinging sixties and French students took to the barricades in hope of a better future in May ’68, Spain was under a fundamentalist catholic regime, where films were censored to get rid of anything subversive to Christian morality and priests raged against the sin of the Northern European bikini. Spain certainly was different.
Spain is now a liberal, outwards-looking, modern, democratic country. Yet it retains certain particularities. Things happen in Spain which would not be tolerated north of the Pyrenees. Corruption, or suspicion of it, has checkered Spain’s political landscape since the democracy was established.