Saturday, 4 January 2014

dancing through the days


Usually, December sails along at a fair rate of knots but then after the New Year arrives, the January anchor is thrown overboard preceding a rather slow drift through the month. Not so this year, when I'm already mildly obsessing about whether the indoor tree lights will be down before twelfth night.

I've dismantled the front garden lights today, braving sleety rain and they are now tucked away in the garage for another year.

The speed effect has also affected my blog writing, where I've noticed several incomplete draft entries that will now not now see light of day.

I was going to write about the over-reaction from certain quarters to PJ Harvey's guest editing of the Today Show a couple of days ago. I usually hear the Today show - often only the first half because of schedules. The prior special editions last week were guest-curated by a Barclays banker, the ex head of SI5 and Oxford Python and traveller Michael Palin, with nary a peep from the listeners.

Musician writer PJ Harvey dared to take a slightly less middle road with some controversial inserts whilst discussing ways to challenge power.

I thought it appropriate; it wasn't all about agreeing with the content, more that it created a dynamic basis for thought and debate. I'd place the programme more as an obvious opinion piece rather than fact-driven, but it did shift the approach from the normal format in a provocative way. I don't think it gave answers, but that's another discussion - but one that will be quietly buried, probably.

The Torygraph, Fail and Stannit were quick to use it as a reason to challenge the ongoing role of the BBC and leftishness in general. Usually British politics is about the fight for the presentable middle. Whichever part of the Bullingdon/Eton/Westminster/Oxbridge set are in play will use the middle to help hold their position.

The recent discussions about 11% pay rises for politicians are a case in point. A red herring when most of them are quite well off, thank you very much.

Picking at random, using published figures, defence man Philip Hammond's worth is supposedly around £5m, cyclist party leader Cameron £3.2m + legacies, Labour leader Ed Miliband cagily hides his worth assumed to be north of £2m, wallpaper magnate and chancellor Osborne's at £4.5m, health supervisor Jeremy Hunt around £4.5m.

That's all before any post-political directorships and special advisor roles. Of course that doesn't always work out. Ex MP Michael Mates tried to get one of those police commissioner roles by moving from his ongoing family home in Chichester into rented rooms in Winchester just before the relevant election. Turns out he didn't win, but I'm not sure if that's enough reason to let it drop?

I know there will be MPs without 'other interests', but there's an awful lot with the prime indicator of second homes. 340 of the MPs claim their entirely legitimate energy bills for their second homes on expenses, as a quick example.

The discussions by the likes of Polly J and recently Russell Brand can be flags about a situation rather than providing answers. We enter 2014 with a still broken economy. The UK doesn't print as much quantitive easing money as the Americans, but UK is still sitting on all kinds of hidden debts, underemployment and crashed pension plans.

The stats appear to show improvements, but if one applies the reasonableness tests, it doesn't quite feel right.

Sometimes there's a need for a more useful challenge to status quo, which has to go beyond trying to put a quote into a politicians mouth suitable for a rolling news feed.

So I'm all for a bit of thought provocation from some non-politicians as a way to try to see past the usual moves.

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