This is our truth, tell us yours
We don’t do enough politics here. Not big P party politics anyway. We do the politics of the personal, not least because it helps keep up the boundaries between this online discussion and our real life activism; whisper it quietly, dear reader, but there are those on the left and in the centre who are not sex positive, and who would wish to exclude those who are from their organizations for political, electoral and organizational reasons. (Nothing keeps the rest of the membership in line better than the conscious othering of a few specific examples.)
However, a couple of examples caught my eye this week of articles that seem, to me at least, to cry out for a different way of looking at and doing politics. The first is this splendid, and largely unnoticed article by Robert Peston. It seems to say, in effect, that a huge slice of the economic growth that George Osborne is so pleased about is a happy accident, the result of the distribution of what economists like to call helicopter money into the economy, albeit helicopter money from private sources, not the central bank.
Why is this article not front and centre in Labour’s onslaught on the government? Mainly because, in the press officer’s playbook, the first rule is don’t get drawn into a debate about the details. For Labour’s spin team, debating the underlying factors behind this growth is tantamount to broadcasting to the public ‘Look people, there’s growth’ while fearing that they will miss the underlying detail, that it’s growth fuelled by a one off set of circumstances that will not be repeated. The nightmare for Labour is if the government in 2014 manages to create more helicopter money targeted at its supporters by privatizing some more of its assets at ludicrously low prices, replaying the 1980s.
Only in this post Blair nightmare we’re living in can it be that political parties won’t tell the truth about the bubble being created by their opponents because they fear the population will miss the details.
The second article that caught my eye was by arch Blairite and former Labour press wonk Hopi Sen. Hopi is, as ever, fascinated by the numbers, and intrigued by the disconnect between support for parties and approval ratings for leaders. In short, Cameron is more approved than his party is supported, and vice versa for Milliband. This is a not uncommon phenomenon. The weakness of much Blairite thinking on the topic is that they don’t test the obvious hypothesis, that the electorate are not as fixated on leadership as some politicians. The Blairites are intent on making their fratricidal attacks on Ed because they believe in the cult of the strong leader; it would be fascinating to see what would happen if Labour went into 2015 with a leader who as openly situational, collegiate, and willing to stress the importance of being equal, not first in the offices of state. One suspects that if he were surrounded by more people with experience of the real world he might even learn some of the ways modern businesses are actually run, using agile project teams and lean processes rather than the clumsy, clunky machine of state that moves at varying speeds depending on the approval rating of the leader.
Of course, the press would hate that, and the chatterati would have to refocus on issues instead of personalities. What a shame if that were to happen, eh?