Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Raintown blues

I have to say that I've been enormously impressed with the attention that the forthcoming by-election in Glasgow East has been getting.

The constituents of Glasgow East are much like the rest of us except they have had rather more disadvantages to put up with. I could elaborate but I wouldn't want this to obfuscate what I consider the most obvious, glaring difference: they have less money.

This, it goes without saying, is a much too economistic and mundane explanation for the Tories who prefer a more Victorian narrative:
"David Cameron acknowledged his debt to Iain Duncan Smith as he stood in a church in the East End of Glasgow to deliver his address on personal morality. Mr Duncan Smith, in turn, credits the deprivation he found on the estates of Gallowgate for inspiring his 'modern, compassionate Conservatism'."
"Modern, compassionate Conservatism", it would seem, is Samuel Smiles with more smiles. I think we're supposed to find it heart-warming that Glasgow inspired this little 'crusade':
"Of course, circumstances — where you are born, your neighbourhood, your school and the choices your parents make — have a huge impact. But social problems are often the consequence of the choices people make."
So obviously the east end of Glasgow is so fucked up because there is a larger proportion of the population there who have a greater marginal propensity to make bad life-style decisions than elsewhere.

Hitherto, I had been prepared to attribute a greater weight to social circumstances in forming character - but if we take Cameron at his word, I feel we can do no other than to draw the following conclusion: it is not by accident of birth and upbringing that David Cameron is a complete wank - it has been a conscious choice on his part.

My own view is that this has been both a foolish choice, and an aesthetically disastrous one - but my point is that what I now understand to have been a lifestyle choice on his part to be a complete wank does not appear to have resulted in him living in poverty in the east end of Glasgow.

Drifted off from the point, which was this: the single most significant thing about this by-election is that anyone's paying attention at all. I love these pundits pontificating about whether a 'seismic change' is taking place in British electoral politics. "Not yet", so many of them say earnestly, with authority. No-one is on hand to point out that the "seismic shift" has already happened. There are indicators aplenty but here's just two that people really should pay more attention to:

1) Labour has lost control of Scotland. Pundits, politicians, and the tuned into the funky vibe bloggers seem not, on the whole, to have understood the significance of this.

2) It is not a question of whether Labour can hold Glasgow East - it is the fact that the outcome is seriously considered as uncertain that is the significant thing. I suspect that Labour will hold this seat but that there's the prospect of a real contest means that there is no such thing as a safe Labour seat anywhere in Britain.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls...

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