Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Sign o' The Times

And now the first Aaro column for which Murdoch is paying; I hope he’s happy with it. Aaro struggles to find his theme somewhat; my advice to him would have been to use the month off to come up with a couple of humdingers to make sure the new column went off with a bang, but apparently not. All we’re getting is a few paras. about how politics is a bit dull in the summer and nobody really cares about Europe. A shame, really, when important issues aren’t being addressed at all, like Darfur, global warming, and those funny little pots of jam you get at boarding houses.

The middle section, around paragraph six, warms up a bit now. Aaronovitch waxes lyrical on the general subject of Blair, Harold Wilson and other left wing celebrities who started off as popular and intelligent figures, but who gradually lost the sympathy and interest of their audience and ending up resigning from the Guardian to write their midweek column in the Times … oh no, sorry, slight mistake, but the strains of Carly Simon are unmistakeable mood music as Aaro thinks about resignations.

Is “the Anglo-Saxon model, or (as those of us who broadly support it prefer) modernised social democracy” the new Big Idea of the Decent Left’s domestic agenda, to go along with democratic imperialism overseas? Only time will tell, I suppose, though Decent Dave’s stance on tuition fees is indicative. Working for Murdoch, however, I suspect that we will hear a lot more about having to curtail “social responsibility” than anything which might “let economic dynamism rip”. By the way, the fact that the preceding sentence is horrible is not my fault; it’s an accurate précis of a sentence which was itself atrocious. But it seems clear from the last three paragraphs between “Because higher taxes might act to depress economic activity [oh god he thinks he can do the business pages too – BB]” and “even as I wince at having to pay for it [subtle boast about the Murdoch pay rise presumably – BB]”, Decent Dave is setting his sail firmly at a low-tax, centrist_Republican view of the world – it is utterly hypocritical of him to portray his support for “expansion of higher and further education” as a social policy since we know from all the guff he wrote for the Guardian about tuition fees that he expects the beneficiaries of this expansion to pay for it themselves.

And finally, two paras. from the end, Aaronovitch’s rambling journey toward the point of the column comes to an end. The Big Idea of the third Labour term ought to be something like the New Egalitarianism manifesto, though hopefully with lower taxes. Well fair enough I suppose. But the concluding sentence is just bizarre. To vote for a party on the basis that a month after they were elected you might suddenly discover a policy program that you support and then you could hope that they carry it out despite the fact that they haven’t said they were going to isn’t what I would call “a rare act of optimism”. Unless the Times subbie removed the word “mindless” from that sentence, I suppose.


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