12. 09. 2007

Jennifer's Ear

Politicians have always seized on particular instances to build swingeing generalisations about the state of society as a whole.

For instance, I have a rather vague memory of what I think was described as “the war of Jennifer’s ear”, where whoever was in opposition at the time seized hold of the wretched Jennifer ear (metaphorically speaking) to accuse whoever was in government at the time of total, heinous dereliction of duty in the management of the NHS.

At least Jennifer lived to tell the tale. One hopes that her ear is fully operational again, and that she has no abiding grievance against those who so ruthlessly manipulated her affliction.

By contrast, manipulating a child’s death is an altogether different matter. Personally, I feel a deep abhorrence at the sight of politicians (of any persuasion) jumping on the coffin (metaphorically speaking) of any child or young person as victims of street violence to argue that the entire country is collapsing in a state of unprecedented anarchy, and that it is all the fault of the disengaged, incompetent government of the day.

The implication that any one political party “cares more”, collectively or as individuals, about the tragic death through violence of young people, is just grotesque. And with the suggestion that one set of policy overlays (by which I mean if superficial bells and whistles are laid on top of decades of economic and social decline in areas of profound disadvantage) is going to do a massively better job than any other set of policy overlays, is headline-grabbing politics at its worst.

Self-denying, respectful sympathy would obviously be the ideal political response at such moments, in the immediate aftermath of such tragedies. But that would be too much to ask, wouldn’t it?

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14. 09. 2007

This is akin to Gordon Brown jumping on the bandwagon of Anita Roddick's death. She would have rolled her eyes at any kind of tribute from him.

The greatest tribute Gordon could pay to Anita would be to start enshrining real changes/laws to ensure we avert the environmental, social and economic catastrophe we are standing on the verge of.

An example of Brown in action:

Last year's budget - In one hand he announced around £1billion towards greenhouse gas reduction initatives. In the other hand he continued to provide an effective fuel tax subsidy of over £10billion p.a. to the aviation industry, the fastest rising source of greenhouse gas emissions. That's ten times more invested into the problem than the solution.

Time is short. We don't even have a lifetime left to get the work done. Maybe a decade.

Give Gordon some stronger advice please Jonathon.


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