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Entries in The Guardian (2)

Thursday
Feb052009

The politics of snow

Being a simple Irish country boy*, I never fail to be amazed at how people overreact to things here in the UK.

It snowed. And people didn't go to work. And kids threw snowballs at people, including me -the cheeky scallywags (thankfully no rocks, otherwise I would have upgraded 'scallywag' to an expletive). And all of a sudden we've got a political row going on. About snow. The Daily Telegraph is moaning about schools being shut, and whinging that the UK's lack of preparedness for adverse weather is costing the economy billions. And so on. Even the Guardian's making a big deal about it.

Interestingly, in this era of triangulation, the politics of snow divide along traditional left / right lines. The Right are all complaining that years of state nannying (not that I've seen much nannying post-Thatcher) has left us without the grit (pardon the pun) to get up and go to work/school. The Left attribute the inefficiencies in clearing roads to privatisation and the sub-contracting of road-salting. Question Time was a hoot tonight because of the impassioned feelings and debate about snow (incidentally, Will Young's out-of-depthness added to the hilarity, particularly when he tried to answer questions about Carol Thatcher and gollywogs. Mind you, he's a brave man for going on that show).

I like to take a political stance on almost everything - to the point of annoying everybody - but in this instance my response is: it snowed. It was a bit of a laugh. We all built a snowman. Kids - shock! horror! - got a day off school. This kind of thing doesn't happen very often (I think the last snowfall like this in Britain was nearly 20 years ago), and it was good fun. Once again, the UK press has totally overreacted and tried to whip up anger over nothing.

There are lots of things that we could be worried about right now, but not snow. Frankly the weather was a welcome distraction from all those gloomy reports about the economy.

Here's my take on it anyway: British snow for British snowmen.

* technically I'm not from the country, I'm from Dublin - and I'm not entirely Irish either. My father comes from the south of England.

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Wednesday
Jul302008

David and David

David Miliband's article in today's Guardian seems to have provoked a lot of speculation about whether or not he'll take a shot at the Labour leadership.

Whilst battling a horrendous hangover this morning, I read said article. It wasn't much of a hangover cure (and certainly not as effective as the bacon sandwich which was also being consumed at the time).

Despite the media fuss, basically what Miliband is offering is exactly what Brown is currently providing - Blairite "reform" of public services (read creeping privatisation). The 'platform for change' that his article refers to is more of the same, albeit maybe at a faster pace.

What David Miliband might be able to provide which Gordon seemingly cannot is a bit more personality. He's definitely more likeable and seems more at ease with the media. I could see him having a reasonable chance of improving Labour's situation should he become leader (then again, it couldn't get much worse).

If Miliband does lead Labour into the next election, it will amount to a personality contest between two rather well-to-do Davids. This is because Miliband's New Labour politics are so close to Tory positions that there will be little for voters to choose from except the likeability of the respective Davids. Once again, voters will be denied a proper choice, and will have to elect a right-wing government or a er, right-wing government.

In other words, it would be like voting for David...or David.

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