Unfortunate cutting off of the name of this programme.
Archive for May, 2011
John Prescott on the Channel 4 news tonight referring to what was being posted on “the Twittering” made him seem really out-of-touch. There was a time when this kind of casual unfamiliarity with popular culture was an insouciant flag that one’s mind was on more important things, that one did not concern oneself with trivia—a schtick that Brian Sewell plays (more consciously than a lot of people realise) to this day.
I don’t think that this really works anymore. You just end up looking old-farty rather than insouciant, like a desperate old uncle trying to show that you are still down with the kids but just getting it wrong. There seem to have been three stages in this process:
- A time when politicians and similar public figures were expected not to engage with popular culture at all—where it would have been seen as bizarre to expect that they would.
- A time where they were increasingly expected to have some engagement but didn’t really, and so wheeled out some press-officer verbiage about who their favourite band or Eastenders star is—sometimes excruciatingly off-the-mark (like one of our admissions officers talking about “Florence and the Rage Against the Machine” playing at the university summer ball).
- A time now when they genuinely do engage with popular culture, and it would seem weird not to.
Strange thing happened on the bus earlier. We were stuck in traffic, the bus driver got out of the cab (without turning off the engine), and stepped off the bus. I assumed that he was going to adjust the mirror or similar—but instead, he patted a dog on the head that was tied up outside a pub, and then got back on the bus and drove on.
The victory by the SNP in the recent Scottish Parliament elections is interesting less for what it says about Scottish independence, and more about what it says about what sort of political parties are in demand by the electorate. The SNP, unusually for contemporary nationalist parties, is a centre-left social democratic party. One way of interpreting the vote (to confirm this, of course, would need more careful research) is to suggest that the SNP is the only mainstream straightforward centre-left party remaining in the UK, and that the victory represents a latent demand for such a political position that both Labour and the LibDems have moved away from.
So, perhaps the victory isn’t about Scottish independence after all, but about the SNP filling a much-needed role in the political landscape. Would this position, therefore, be tenable across the UK? Or is it just in Scotland where this demand exists to any great extent?
Having said that the vote was not about Scottish independence per se, perhaps it gives support for it in a different way. Traditionally, appeals for the independence of a nation have been based largely on history and sentimentality—the desire of a specific group to identify as “a people”. Perhaps the current situation in Scotland reflects a situation in which a new kind of rationalist argument for independence can be made—essentially, that the political landscape in Scotland has sufficiently moved away from the rest of the UK that representation by the Westminster parliament is no longer sensible, and that a rational basis for the creation of political units is the existence of a coherent political landscape.
Of course, under such a scheme Brighton should probably also be an independent country.