Last week, at a literary party, I talked to a very handsome writer. “What we need,” he said, after taking a big swig of champagne, “is conviction politicians.” I wasn’t quite sure what he meant. Did he mean a conviction politician like Hitler? Or like Castro? Or perhaps like Margaret Thatcher? But when I said Margaret Thatcher, he pulled a face. No, he said, he didn’t want a conviction politician like Hitler, or Castro, or Margaret Thatcher. He wanted a conviction politician with convictions he liked. One, he said, like Tony Benn.The writer lives, I think, in Camden.
I think you could well be right…
When you live in Camden, or Haringey, or Hackney, or Southwark, you meet a lot of people who say that what we need is more “conviction politicians”.You meet a lot of people who say that what we need is a fairer voting system, and a lot of people who don’t think there should be any cuts, and a lot of people who say the answer to a very big deficit is to make the rich pay more tax. You also meet a lot of people who say things like “there is a genuine progressive majority in this country” and “what we need is a clearer narrative”.
It sounds to me like you meet a lot of ….
No, better not. This is, after all, a family blog.
But if there is a “progressive majority” in this country, of people who want a fairer voting system, and who think there shouldn’t be any cuts, and who think the answer to a very big deficit is to make the rich pay more tax, there isn’t much sign of it.
She points to the local election results as an indicator. She then starts using ‘we’ and ‘us’ a lot, though I’m not entirely sure that she is ‘us’…
Some of us are so keen on the cuts that we’ve started attacking people who are getting money from the state who we think shouldn’t. We have, for example, started attacking people in wheelchairs.
We have? Damn, I haven’t kicked a cripple all day!
I’m clearly slacking…
We have, according to a recent survey by Scope, got 37 per cent better at abusing people with disabilities in the past year, although the word that the people with the disabilities used was “worse”.
Yup, I’m slacking. What else am I missing out on?
We’ve started saying more loudly, and more often, that we don’t want any more immigrants coming in to our country, and that we don’t want the ones who are here to have support from the state.
OK, guilty as charged, but then, I say much the same about our home-grown benefit culture population.
In all of this, we’re not alone. France has shifted to the right. (So far to the right that Monday’s Financial Times said Marine Le Pen might beat Sarkozy in the first presidential round.) So has Italy. So has Germany. So, even, has that beacon of social democracy, Sweden. If politics is about pendulums, this one doesn’t seem to be swinging back.
And clearly, for Christina, this is a terrible proposition.
If we want to move against the tide of what appears to be history, and find a way to deal with debt that doesn’t turn our most vulnerable citizens into scapegoats, and doesn’t bring the economy to a standstill, and doesn’t suggest that the way to deal with a decline in high street spending, caused by fear and frozen wages, is to get a reality TV star to carry out a “review”, and doesn’t think that CEOs should earn 145 times as much as everyone else, and doesn’t think it’s unreasonable for the top 1 per cent of the population to pay a little bit more tax, then we’re going to need a lot more than a few “conviction politicians”.
You’re going to need a miracle.
We’re going to need people who can make a case (but not a “narrative”) and who can come up with a few policies, and who can actually win something called an election.I think we might be waiting for quite some time.
I think so too. As a very famous lady once said, ‘That’s the problem with socialism; sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money’.