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Posts from the ‘politics’ Category

Reasons to be positive about 2018!

imageAs we approach the end of another year, it is inevitably a time for reflection. 2017 has proved a challenge for many. Whatever your political views, we are undoubtedly going through a period of uncertainty.

But over the last few days, I have been reminded of the reasons why we should be positive. For many years, I have compiled a Christmas quiz for family and friends. I hadn’t managed to do it for several seasons as my young children were demanding of my time and my duties had expanded to include the pressie wrapping and the food!

But this year, an unexpected fall of snow postponed our visiting plans and I found myself compiling the quiz to keep a pair of disappointed children happy. What I noticed, when planning the game, were certain notable differences from how it used to be. It was much more tricky to find obscure questions and images than it would have been five or ten years ago.

It abruptly occurred to me that this was because of the growth of instant news and the ubiquitous nature of social media. Personalities have become immediately recognisable, as their images populate our timelines on a daily basis. This includes political figures like Emmanuel Macron or David Davis, as well as Meghan Markle and Ariana Grande.

My signature quiz, once considered rather challenging, didn’t seem so difficult any longer. The realisation of this fact, I found heartening. When I looked back through the year, I viewed events with a more positive slant. We are undoubtedly better informed as a nation than we used to be.

Whatever the political climate, this is a good thing. It isn’t as easy to make false statements and get away with it. Facts are instantly checked and corrections go viral. This development makes it far harder for those with vested interest to block progress with misinformation. We can also influence the course of foreign policy by petitioning parliament in individual cases, such as raising the plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran and forcing Boris Johnson to meet with her husband and actively negotiate for her release. This would not have happened without social media pressurising the foreign secretary to act.

The new digital age has been of great benefit to me as a writer too. It is now possible to become a bestselling author without being represented by one of the great monoliths of the publishing world. This is good news for everyone. There is greater competition in pricing as a result and a wider range of voices heard.

So, there is plenty to feel positive about as we embark upon a new year. I know that developments in digital technology have their limitations, but the up sides are really exciting. We are all more knowledgable and more literate as a result of social media. It is a leveller, not a development that benefits only the elite. This can only be a good thing, as we enter the uncertain future.

Happy New Year!



The next generation will be far more radical than us.


The current popularity of Jeremy Corbyn amongst Labour party members raises some intriguing issues. I am observing the debates with a detached interest. For my generation of centre-left liberals, Corbyn strikes me as the blatantly unelectable candidate. However, I get a strange sense that times are changing. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Jeremy would seriously struggle to garner wide scale support in the country right now, but in ten or fifteen years time, we could be looking at an entirely new political landscape.
My sense is telling me, that the current government are radicalizing young Britons in a way that hasn’t happened since the 50s and 60s, the only other era in modern memory when opportunities were so cruelly limited for the upcoming generations.
Everyone is conservative (with a small ‘c’) when they are comfortable and have something to lose and opportunities to look forward to. Young people now have nothing but huge debt and a shrinking jobs market and soaring house prices to anticipate in the future.
As soon as this generation, punished the most by austerity, reaches the age at which they can vote, it will change everything. A ‘leftie’ leader like Corbyn may appear to reflect their needs far better than the smooth, soundbite delivering career politicians my age group are more comfortable with.
I don’t believe we can be complacent or dismissive of this type of shift. Look at what’s happened in my homeland of Scotland, not so very long ago the heartland of Labour, now entirely dominated by the SNP.
Cameron and Osborne are obviously not setting out to radicalize the youth of Britain. But this consequence will be the result of alienating young people and brutally curtailing their life chances and opportunities.
In the 80s and 90s, I received a first class state education and higher education without accruing any siginificant debt. If I hadn’t gone on to take my teacher training qualification as a mature student then I wouldn’t have needed a student loan at all. It’s hard to be angry and radical when you’ve been treated so well by society. I’m comfortable and privileged, despite not coming from a wealthy background. That is the experience that every citizen of a progressive society should have.
It provides benefits for the government too. We work hard and want to give something back. And we are, for the most part, agreeable and pliable.
I genuinely don’t know how the next generation will view their society. It will be different, for sure. They’re bound to be more angry and more politicized than I ever was. To them, a candidate like Corbyn may be the more natural choice. It will be fascinating to see how it pans out. For authors like myself, the challenge will be to understand and capture this shift in attitudes and reflect it accurately in our work.

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