Monday, 26 May 2014

Some free advice for the Conservatives

 Offered on the blog of my MP, Steve Baker, in response to his article arguing that the UKIP surge is actually a vote for disengagement with politics, pointing at the low turnout figure.  He comments:
It is a tragic fact that politicians are once again talking to themselves while commentators encourage them to do so. We have failed to inspire the public even to throw us out.
The challenge after this election is not how to defeat UKIP. It is how to speak truthfully, hopefully and realistically to a population thoroughly disenchanted with the entire political system.
My response:

You're right that there has been a strong shift towards not voting; this has been developing over several General Elections and is symptomatic of a general mistrust of politicians.  There is a cosy stalemate that has emerged between the media and senior politicians, whereby the media limit their questions to ones designed to catch politicians out and trip them into saying something that can be misinterpreted, and politicians avoid saying anything of any substance or meaning in reply.  Both tendencies reinforce the other.  Both lead to people switching off.

UKIP have succeeded in tapping into this and presenting themselves as a break from the old order.  In that regard, by focusing on "gaffes" made by UKIP spokesmen or candidates, the traditional media have played into their hands by confirming that UKIP are not part of the club and that the Establishment is ganging up on them. 

There are opportunities in this for the Conservatives, though.  Labour have shown themselves to be a failure (I think it has been quoted that no opposition party has ever not won a Euro election until now?), so the clear focus must now be on UKIP.  The question is, why have so many Conservative supporters left for UKIP?  My suggestion would be that a general mistrust of Cameron, a feeling that when the day comes he will wriggle out of the referendum promise, and a feeling that he is a highly experienced politician and "one of them", are the main reasons.

To an extent, Cameron's shiftiness on policy has possibly been because he has been hamstrung by the constraints of coalition politics.  But now, with the Liberals effectively dead in the water and the EU staring at a clear mandate for a British exit if current terms are maintained, he can afford to strike out, say what he thinks, and maybe even do it.

In his shoes, I would

(a) Describe the exact form of EU that he would wish to see.  I for one don't actually know what that is.

(b) Set. A. Date. For. The. Referendum.  Also, publish the question that will be set.  That way, it might look as if he is committed to it.

(c) Go to Brussels and ask for his vision of Europe.  Explain bluntly that they can say "no" if they wish but it appears that the UK will leave if they do so.  Point out that there is now a hard, immovable deadline.

(d) Don't be afraid to tell interviewers they've asked a stupid question, or one based on a truckload of false assumptions.  Stop being a Westminster pansy and speak up.  Don't let them dictate the terms of the interview.  The media are not your friends, stop treating them as such.  Show a little steel.

I know of two Wycombe votes that may go back from UKIP to Conservative if this happens.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Nothing Moves Like Music

No politics this time.  I want to talk about the power of music tonight.  It's late, and I can't sleep, because I caught a snatch of a piece of music this evening on a film trailer.

The trailer was this one:

Did you catch it?

It's only brief, about 30 seconds at most.  It is "Speigel im Spiegel", by Arvo Pärt.  Here's the full version:

It's a beautiful piece of music.  I love it, I love the image it creates in my mind of a calm and peaceful place where I am safe and secure, where I can rest and relax and let any and all worries leave my mind.  And every time I listen - every single time - I will well up and I may well cry.  If I'm alone, I'll probably let it out, but if I'm in company I will probably just go quiet and maybe a little distant.  It has done that to me ever since maternal grandmother left this world over ten years ago, because every time I hear it, it reminds me of her. 

I have no idea why.  We never listened to it together, I have no idea whether she ever even heard it.  She wasn't especially into music, but the little music she did have was very, very different.  There is no logic as to why it should be this piece in particular, but it is so, nevertheless. 

There's another piece of music that does this to me.  It's in a rather different style, and a little more recent.  Pärt's piece is moderately highbrow, this very definitely isn't - it is simple, straightforward, and commercial.  It's this:

This one reminds me of Mum.  The link here is even more tenuous - she cannot possibly have heard it, as it was released after she died.   Common sense says the song can have no connection with her, but my own personal logic has connected them; every time I hear it, she is in my mind, and I am back there with her on her sofa in the last few weeks, with her (exhausted) sleeping against my shoulder with my arm around her.

Nothing triggers my memories of these two wonderful, strong women with the intensity of these pieces of music.  I want to hate them both for the effect they have on me, but I can't.

I love both pieces.  I love them for the connection they give me.