BoJo might be a bozo, but Labour is the real danger

It is often said that the most despised people in the country are journalists and estate agents. And while these people sometimes are indeed prize toss pots, there are two other professions that I despise above all others. Actors and politicians. Thing is, acting and being a politician is essentially the same job. They’re not wrong when they say politics is showbusiness for ugly people. Both aspire to earn money by spending their life being insincere. You can’t admire that.

But unlike many, I cannot bring myself to hate Boris Johnson in particular. That’s not because LOL I like his funnee hair and he is a legernd. (I do find it amusing, though, that people will — without a trace of irony — cite this article and others by the (admittedly excellent) Charlie Brooker saying “LOL! CHARLIE BROOKER IS A LEGEND!” It’s all a bit Dan Ashcroft if you ask me. But never mind.)

No, the real reason I don’t hate Boris Johnson is because I can’t stand politicians full stop. To single out one person the way some single out Boris Johnson seems incredibly unfair to me. And the reaction among some people to his election as London Mayor has left me in despair about the state of political discourse right now.

So I was glad to see the balance redressed somewhat by the excellent Nosemonkey yesterday. I was beginning to think I was the only one who couldn’t understand why so many people were queuing up to pour effluent on the man.

It is slightly dangerous territory for me to be talking about London politics. Everything I wrote here applies. But I have been spurred into blogging about this for two reasons. One is that the position of London Mayor is pretty much the only major directly elected post in the country and its effects inevitably reverberate around the country. The second is that the debate itself merits comment because it reflects the shoddy standard of political discourse in the UK as a whole.

I will refrain from commenting too much on the policies of either candidate. I know too little about the policies and obviously my opinions could well be different were I actually a Londoner. But I would probably have reluctantly voted for Brian Paddick. I would probably not have allocated my second preference. Choosing between Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson is a bit like choosing between shit and shite. Forced at gunpoint however, I would plump for Johnson.

I have, after all, voted for him before. A couple of years ago Boris Johnson stood in the election to become Rector of Edinburgh University. He was an early favourite, but then that shady coalition of Labour / Green / People and Planet / whatever in EUSA went on the offensive to produce a highly negative campaign based on Boris Johnson’s support for tuition fees.

The students, being self-interested, rational utility maximisers, decided to vote against the possibility of being seen to favour tuition fees. I voted on principle against this subsidy for the middle class.

Today we have the completely anonymous Mark Ballard as our Rector. Don’t know who Mark Ballard is? Don’t blame you. He used to be a Green MSP but was such a nonentity that he was voted out last year. As such, a genuine nobody is Rector of Edinburgh University. The guy we could have had is now Mayor of London. (Even Magnus Linklater would have been better. I actually met him while he was campaigning and he seemed rather pleasant.)

It is true that Boris Johnson is a bit of a clown. But I don’t see why this is necessarily a barrier to being in public office. People always drone on about how boring politicians are. They complain about bland inoffensive leaders — Blairs, Camerons, Cleggs and the like — who silence independent thinkers or anyone who could be seen as a loose cannon. They despise those Milliblands et al. who climb the greasy pole, toe the party line and so on. And quite rightly.

But then when someone who is charismatic, who is an independent thinker, who will not toe the party line comes along, apparently he is unfit for office. You can’t have it both ways.

Plus, the notion that over a million Londoners voted for Boris Johnson “just for a laugh” is highly patronising. I am pretty misanthropic, but even my hatred for the electorate does not stoop this low. I do not doubt that some people voted for Johnson on this basis, but to put his victory down to this phenomenon alone is surely wide of the mark. It makes you look petulant.

Also, I surely need not say that voting against Boris Johnson because he is a character is every bit as pathetic as voting for him for that reason. Yet, as far as I can tell, it is the number one reason why people have been so averse to a Johnson victory. It is also odd that people should complain about Johnson for being famous for being maverick, only to vote for Ken Livingston who… is famous for being a maverick.

To say that because Boris is a bumbler when he talks means that he will be a bumbler in control of London is pathetic. Political leaders don’t “run” anything — that’s the job of the civil service and what have you. Boris Johnson won’t be sitting in front of a real-life game of Sim City. Political leaders are public figureheads who canvass opinion, bring ideas to the table and direct policy and they are only one (albeit prominent) branch in a large tree. I see nothing in Boris Johnson’s character that will prohibit him from doing this job just fine.

And being a clown is, at least, a whole lot better than being malicious. Because that is what Livingstone is. While the character assassinations of Boris Johnson are ten a penny, people on the left tend to be an awful lot more quiet about Livingstone’s many failings. His inexplicable inability to simply apologise to Oliver Finegold for his drunken remarks; his failure to distance himself from homophobic Islamist Yusuf al-Qaradawi; his hokey-cokey in-out-in-out, I’m not running, yes I am but as an independent, then I’ll rejoin the Labour party, shake it all about. Don’t forget also that he rushed to the door like a yapping dog with its tail wagging to make excuses for the brutal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.

Of course, Boris Johnson is not just a clown. He is a toff. And he is a Tory. Booooo!

Well, all I can say to that is, grow up. This is just the most pathetic way to discuss politics. If you have to resort to invoking the days of Thatcher to persuade people not to vote Conservative, you must be scraping the barrel. Yet it is a staple of British political discourse.

The Labour Government could go round the country literally raping everyone. When someone calls them up on it, you can be sure the Government will turn round and splutter, “Ah yes — but the Tories brought you the POLL TAX. Booooo!” And the sheep on the left will be won over. They will hi-5 each other for what they see as an excellent sucker-punch (which is in fact a tired, over-used, irrelevant line), hiss at the Tories and let the Labour Government get back to raping everyone again.

I am in little position to comment on how bad Margaret Thatcher’s government was because I am too young to remember anything substantial of it. But it seems to me as though Thatcher is vilified mostly for ushering in some changes that were no doubt difficult to take at the time but which were necessary in the long run. Socialism is a discredited ideology — almost the entire history of the twentieth century should tell you this. Almost every other comparable country has gone through a similar process. Besides, Labour has done little to reverse this, so to turn to them while blaming Thatcher is hollow.

Even if I am wrong on this, you must realise that invoking Thatcher will not cut it much longer. For one thing, this stuff happened twenty or thirty years ago. Many voters (like myself) now do not even remember that far back, and politics and the Conservative Party are operating in very different environments now. It’s not fair on today’s Conservatives to punish them for the actions of the previous generation, and it takes the people with whom you are debating for mugs to crudely reduce everything to this. And it makes you look like a tosser as well.

The thing is, the Conservatives may have the Poll Tax (from twenty years ago). But Labour have the Iraq War (with goodness knows how many people killed) from this decade. There was their bullying approach to the media that went along with the Iraq War in this decade. They have created a climate of fear and general suspicion of anyone with “Mongolian eyes”, leading to at least one unnecessary death in this decade. They have turned this country into the most spied-upon in the world in this decade. They have begun to construct the database state, with all the security risks that entails, along with the hopelessly expensive ID cards in this decade.

They have abolished the 10p income tax rate. That would be bad enough from the Conservatives, but for a “Labour” government it shows a scandalous disregard for the concept of the progressive tax system. Labour have treated the voters with utter contempt, taking their position in power for granted.

Although I have moved on to the more general point about the standard of political discourse, this is related to the recent Mayoral contest. You could argue that all that has nothing to do with Ken Livingstone. But he helped legitimise all this by re-joining the Labour Party at the height of Tony Blair’s courtship with George Bush.

With all of this blood on their hands, with their power-grabbing, and their utter contempt for civil liberties, what is it that keeps them in power? The best response is “Maggie stole my milk… in 1970”? Get real. This approach has literally allowed the Labour Government to get away with murder. Why should I be prepared to give this Labour mob another chance?

You could argue that whatever Labour do, the Conservatives must always be worse because they are more “right wing”. But this argument does not cut it either. For one thing, it is precisely this approach that allows Labour to get away with all of this. The left just shrug their shoulders and mumble, “could be worse”. The Conservatives, on the other hand, are scrutinised for slightest bawhair of a possibility that they might infringe on people’s liberties. I am certain that the Conservatives would never have been allowed to get away with the Iraq War, the creeping privatisation of the NHS, ID cards and you name it in the way that Labour have been. This alone is reason enough to vote Labour out.

Furthermore, to expect the Labour Party to take a liberal approach is asking too much of them. Their traditional ideology is not liberalism, contrary to what some might tell you. It is socialism. Say what you like about the Conservatives, but at least they have a liberal wing in their party. With Labour you just get one kind of authoritarianism or another.

As for the argument that Boris Johnson will not be a good leader because he is a toff, that is just nonsensical bigotry of the highest order. Being of a certain social class should be not a barrier to holding office. After all, Boris Johnson did not choose his father.

Anyone who knows me will know that I am not rich in the slightest. But if I happened to have been born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I would like to think that I would not be subjected to this kind of bigotry. Justin in the comments at Nosemonkey’s says,

I tell you what, I will [get over the class prejudice] if they will. You obviously haven’t been swimming in some of the Tory cesspits I have in the last few months.

I am not a “party identifier” — at least not between Labour and the Conservatives. I was brought up by SNP-supporting parents. As I grew up I drifted towards the Liberal Democrats. From this position, I see a great deal more “snide remarks, personal attacks and class prejudice” from Labour supporters than I do from Conservative supporters. In fact, it is one of the things that has ultimately turned me completely off the Labour Party over the past few years.

I obviously haven’t been swimming in Justin’s Tory cesspits either. But if anyone can find me an example of someone saying that you should not vote for someone because they are too working class to do their job properly, I would happily accept defeat on this point. But I have never heard it said. But to complain that someone is too posh is par for the course.

Besides, to attack the Conservatives for being full of toffs misses the fact that plenty of Labour members are also toffs. Tony Blair isn’t exactly a miner. And the stuff about Gordon Brown being from a working class area only tells half the story. I have lived almost all my life in that same working class area, and people round here know that he was a privileged son of the manse who got special treatment during his education. So it’s vote Tory, get a toff; vote Labour, get a toff. Not that this should matter in the slightest of course.

To bring all of this back to where I started, remember that I am not a supporter of Boris Johnson. My point is that Boris Johnson as Mayor of London is not remotely as offensive as some people are making out.

This is a personal view, but I would never vote for someone seeking a third term unless they were exceptionally appealing. But the third term is when the rot sets in, if it didn’t during the second term. That’s when power gets to their heads. That’s when they lose touch of reality. In this light, a change is not all that bad.

Believe it or not, Labour do not have a divine right to power. Even Scotland, with all of its Labour rotten boroughs in the west, realised this last year. Just like in London, “the enemy” got in instead. While you may argue that the SNP are not Tories, they are nonetheless loathsome. But guess what. Scotland didn’t implode one year ago when they were elected. In fact, the SNP administration is a breath of fresh air, and it’s certainly a lot better than the prospect of a third Labour-dominated Executive. I don’t see why Boris Johnson should be different.

Of course, he could very well be a disaster. But the point is that candidates shouldn’t be judged on their background, their hairstyle or the colour of their rosette. They should be judged on their policies and their record. I’ve skim-read Boris Johnson’s manifesto and I have not seen anything particularly offensive and I see nothing that disqualifies him in my mind. Even if people do disagree with Johnson’s policies, this is fair enough — but I didn’t hear any of it. I just heard about his posh accent.

I am greatly saddened by the nature of the debate and the sheer hypocrisy that so many people are showing. Too many people are making terrible excuses for a disastrous Labour government. I blame these people for the road this country is headed down.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. Maybe I am asking too much. But any notion I had before that political ideologies are formed, debated and voted for on the basis of rational, intelligent thought have been shattered this week. What Geoffrey Brennan and Loren Lomasky said was true after all. Voting for a political party is just like supporting a football team for some people, with accident of birth and plain old prejudice at the basis of their support. I’d prefer it if these people could leave their childish desire to be part of a tribe in the football ground rather than in the ballot box where they are controlling my life.

The cheesy line goes, “if you don’t vote, you get the politicians you deserve.” Well, it’s not true. Politicians can’t do anything without votes. But if you vote for someone because they are the “least worst” or because “at least they’re not the Tories”, then you do get the politicians you deserve. My anger stems from the fact that I do not deserve these politicians.

Update: I’ve written a second post on this topic. I hope this concisely clarifies my intentions with this post. I also respond to the feedback.

16 comments

  1. A very sound and considered analysis.

    The cries that this is “a bad day for democracy” are nothing more than childish petulance writ large – as is the misanthropic assertion that people were persuaded by tabloid headlines. People voted the way they did out of self-interest. That, ultimately, is what representative democracy is about. Now, is that misanthropic? 😉

  2. “Even if people do disagree with Johnson’s policies, this is fair enough — but I didn’t hear any of it.”

    You see, this is the clincher – all the people I’ve come across slagging off Boris also claim “he hasn’t got any policy on x” (including people who normally know better). Most of the time, he HAS got a policy on x – while at the same time, I couldn’t have told you what Ken’s was. Because where the Boris and Brian campaigns tried to make it about policy, the Ken crowd were constantly bringing it back to personality.

    This is, in turn, making me think that perhaps the constant “David Cameron has no policies” thing I keep hearing (largely because I mostly read loosely left-wing blogs and newspapers) is also a load of bollocks, and that maybe it’s time to give the Tories serious consideration again.

    A quick aside on the Thatcher prejudice thing: When I think of the Conservative Party, I don’t think of Thatcher (though I do see her as doing at least as much good as harm) – I think of Salisbury, Disraeli, Pitt, Wellington and especially Peel, the Prime Minister who did more for the poor working classes of this country than any other until Attlee with the repeal of the Corn Laws and pushing through of the Factory Act, despite this going against everything his party’s core supporters wanted. If you’re going to remind people of a party’s history, rather than what they’re doing now, why only go back 20-30 years? Maybe the Republicans could do the same in the US, and point out that the Democrats were pro-slavery during the Civil War… Parties change – how else could Labour have been anti-EEC, anti-US and anti-Nuke 30 years ago and precisely the opposite now?

    In short: Blind party loyalties are silly.

  3. The general argument put forward here, some of which I have sympathy for and agreement, is, sadly, undermined by being all over the place.

    To take a couple of examples:

    Apparantly to argue that Londoners – or anyone for that matter – voted the way they did (in this case for Boris Johnson) is deeply patronising of those who voted but it’s not patronising to argue in the same article that people vote on tribal lines as though its a football team.

    The phrase “make you’re mind up” springs to mind.

    Of course there are people who vote along tribal lines as though it were a football team – although the days of weighing the votes in certain areas are long gone and the number is dwindling rapidly. But that reality applies just as much to Tories as it does to the New Labour/Tory light version and the Lib Social dems.

    The point being that it’s dishonest to criticise others for caricaturing when the basic argument here is built on nothing other than a one sided caricature – a straw man – where something labelled “the left” is somehow lumped together with the New Labour project which is merely carrying the baton until the real Tories can get their act together.

    Again, the argument about the Poll Tax, whilst I agree with the premise, is undermined by ignoring the same behavior from the Tories who have been wittering on about the “Winter of Discontent” since 1979. But I suppose that issue does not fit the tenor of the one sided straw man argument being employed.

    I was old enough to be of working age during the Thatcher years – and there’s a category of people in this country, known to those of us of that era and my age group, who were born and grew up as youngsters during that time who are known as “Thatchers” children. I suspect you may be one of them from some of the comments, the tenor of the argument, whats used and more importantly what’s been left out, and the caricaturing of those you don’t agree with on the basis that some of them are caricaturing those you do agree with.

    Particularly the nasty comment about students, and by extension, their parents and families, being middle class for objecting to student fees.

    Let me give you some real world advice son. The middle class can look after themselves -whether they are Tory middle Class; New Labour Middle class; or Lib/Social Dems middle Class. I’ve got a lad off to university in September and on my wages – which I consider to be not too bad compared to others around me – I’m struggling to help him finance his way through the next three years. His friends and their families who also work for a living (and I’m talking about real work here not poncing about on a managers wage) are in a similar situation. Working and trying desperately to ensure that they don’t end up with tens of thousands of pounds of debt at a time of their lives when their only way of becoming independent of their families will involve more massive debts to get on a housing ladder because the Tories – Thatcher et al and their children like Cameron and his front bench – all but destroyed the social housing sector for those who can’t afford a mortgage on the private housing ladder.

    The idea that just because Cameron et al are a younger generation of Tories are somehow going to revive the social housing sector and reverse the catastrophic privatisations of everything not super glued to the bedrock of the planet is laughable and demonstrates a total lack of gorm on your part.

    Maybe when you’ve got kids of your own at the age and in that position you will change your tune (unless of course you get to be middle class yourself).

    The fact that these Tory and Thatcherite policies were carried on by the equally authoritarian New Labour brand to the extent of actually finishing it the social housing sector off merely underlines the fact that a vast majority of citizens no longer have their interests represented because it’s like being given a choice between Coke Pepsi or Virgin cola -if you don’t like Cola its too bad because nothing else is on offer.

    Maybe you need to look at the football metaphor a bit deeper. Football is nothing more than a brand these days. Certainly not the game I remember as a lad (too much money being laundered amongst other problem issues). Much like politics which is just a choice now between different brands of the same product.

    I suppose it would be useful to sign off with a bit of advice and guidance which may help in analyising political issues.

    There’s an old 20th century joke in which one Soviet citizen asks another what the difference is between Communism and Capitalism. his friend replies that under Capitalism man exploits man, whereas under communism its the other way around.

    The joke could easily operate if transferred from the soviet Union to the Capitalist West. The point being from the view at the bottom, as Orwell so aptly demonstrated in Animal Farm, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between one set of arseholes and another set of arseholes – whatever label they, you or others want to put on them. Kidding yourself and others that there is any fundamental difference gets you and everyone else precisely nowhere except to repeat previous errors.

  4. Dave,

    But that reality applies just as much to Tories as it does to the New Labour/Tory light version and the Lib Social dems.

    You’re completely right when you say that the right (and whatever other group you care to come up with) can be just as bad. The only reason I’m talking about the left here is because they have been the main offenders over the past week or so.

    Particularly the nasty comment about students, and by extension, their parents and families, being middle class for objecting to student fees.

    My comment about students being middle class is not based on the fact that they object to student fees therefore must be middle class. It is based on the undisputed fact that students generally are middle class, as you will see if you click through to the post I linked to.

    The idea that just because Cameron et al are a younger generation of Tories are somehow going to revive the social housing sector and reverse the catastrophic privatisations of everything not super glued to the bedrock of the planet is laughable and demonstrates a total lack of gorm on your part.

    Show me any instance where I said that they would. My point is that not only are Cameron et al. not going to revive the social housing sector (etc.), neither are Labour, neither are the Lib Dems and neither is anyone with any vague sniff of a chance of getting power. Furthermore, the assumption that these left wing ideas are by default the “correct” view rather demonstrates my point about the state of discourse among the left. You haven’t argued in favour of social housing or renationalisation. You have just taken as given that they are the correct answer and made a comment based on that.

    The fact that these Tory and Thatcherite policies were carried on by the equally authoritarian New Labour brand to the extent of actually finishing it the social housing sector off merely underlines the fact that a vast majority of citizens no longer have their interests represented because it’s like being given a choice between Coke Pepsi or Virgin cola -if you don’t like Cola its too bad because nothing else is on offer.

    Maybe you need to look at the football metaphor a bit deeper. Football is nothing more than a brand these days. Certainly not the game I remember as a lad (too much money being laundered amongst other problem issues). Much like politics which is just a choice now between different brands of the same product.

    I think on the basis of this paragraph you surely agree with my central point. Labour is allowed to get away with this precisely because sheep on the left will carry on voting for them regardless. My comments about people voting for politicians purely on the colour of their rosette is all about this. “Different brands of the same product.” This is how we got into this mess. I agree with you.

  5. But that’s the point. “The left” in any meaningful form does not exist in New Labour. They were purged physically and then the ideas and ideals were purged.

    Trying to caricature New Labour and any party members/politicians/activists who speak for it as “the left” is not dealing with the reality. The collapse of the vote to 24% on a low turn out underlines this fact.

    The “left” are not seriously voting in droves for this lot – or any other lot. The only people in New Labour trying to pretend they are “left” are the likes of media luvvies like Cohen, Toynbee, Kettle, Hitchins etc and those in the party from the pre NuLab era who are only there out of habit and don’t have the imagination to know when they have outstayed their effectiveness trying forlonely to breath life into the skeleton of a dead horse.

    Painting anyone defending New Labour as “left” wing sheep is not identifying the reality. The caricature is an invention. A figment of imagination. A ghost. It’s not there. It does not exist. It has long ceased to be. Give it up.

  6. Dear Lord, who’s this Dave chap? I thought the standard “people who voted Boris did it for a laugh” line was patronising, but that really takes the biscuit. “Let me give you some real world advice, son”? Did he really just say that?

    Especially considering the fact that he seems to agree with your central point, only can’t quite get over the knee-jerk partisan reaction to anything that could vaguely be construed as saying that the Tories aren’t actively evil. Bizarre…

    As for the “yeah, but the Tories did the same when they were in power” thing – of course they did. But they haven’t had a free run at office and a massive parliamentary majority for the last decade. Attack the powerful and those who wield power – I thought that was meant to be one of the central ideas of the left?

  7. Dave, I have to disagree with you here. You are right that Labour’s most prominent defenders are luvvies such as Cohen and Toynbee.

    But there are plenty of other people who would certainly describe themselves as being of the left and were either speaking out in favour of Ken Livingstone or — more commonly — against Boris Johnson. I only use the example of the London election here because it is so current, but this can easily be extended to any other recent election.

    My point is that I wish these people would see that supporting Labour does their cause as much damage as, if not more than, supporting the Conservatives. I suspect your point is that if someone supports Labour then they cannot be on the left. But I think this is a rhetorical trick. Whether you call them left or another name, these people certainly exist (as you will see if you peruse the blogs and the message boards).

  8. I would advise not taking Dave’s “real world advice”… It’s twaddle.

    Your analysis was reasoned and far from “all over the place”. Pointing out and criticising the voting along tribal lines was perfectly reasonable – My party, right or wrong – is a reprehensible and unprincipled stance to take.

    I, too, was of working age during the Thatcher years. At the time, I was opposed to many of her policies. In latter years I realised that she was right on many of them. As for Dave’s assertion that her government was authoritarian, don’t make me laugh…

  9. As for Thatcher’s government it was pretty close to authoritarian and it was definitely anti-Scottish which made – and still makes – me more pro SNP than I might have been; but a lot of the time I voted Liberal (later Lib-Dem) rather than SNP.
    Voting along tribal lines incenses me which is why I despaired of the fact that Labour always won in Scotland in my lifetime – especially locally – and that tendency made the SNP “win” in Scotland last year such a refreshing event. But doubtless they too will muck it up in time.
    I would have voted for Brian Paddick, I think, with no 2nd choice.
    I can’t say who is preferable, Boris or Ken, – references to “watermelon smiles” and picaninnies” turn my stomach but Ken has his egregious faults too. The real problem is the calibre of who stands for election. Perhaps wanting to be elected ought to be an automatic disbar to people standing for election. (That’s a serious suggestion by the way.)
    This “Labour” government has been a massive disappointment and Gordon Brown’s fixation with the US will not help to redress this.
    The recent banking crisis was an opportunity to reassert that unbridled markets lead to instability. There must be regulation.
    BTW the devastation of social housing by Thatcher is, to my mind, a historical mistake on a par with the Beeching cuts to the railways. The UK is the worse for both.

  10. Longrider,

    The thing is that if I were to write a post advocating socialist policies, undoubtedly someone would come along and say to me, “It’s all very well for you to say that while you’re still young — wait until you are living in the real world and have to pay the taxes that fund it.” For people to use my age like this during a debate is quite common, but I don’t doubt that will change any time soon. No doubt we are all familiar with such tactics as this. “Well, you wouldn’t know what it’s like because you’re middle class,” or whatever.

    It is more sloppy debating of the kind that makes me despair. On this basis, you can never win a debate. While I can’t have my finger on the pulse of every demographic in this country — a flaw I share with every other person in the world — I will in the meantime call it how I see it from my perspective, and allow others to call it as they see it from their perspective. I think that is fair.

  11. […] Richard Havers joins in with the majority of the population of England and Wales and sticking the knife in to Gordon. Nae Balls would seem to be the theme. (Perhaps he should get rid of Mr Balls instead?) Angus Nicholson highlights the benefit of burying bad stories. Perhaps Gordon could change the law? Casillis tries his hand at political advertising. Don’t look yet Gordon, things are still looking pretty bad (remember John Major?). Doctor Vee on the other hand has just had it with politicians in general. […]

  12. I think it’s not necessarily Boris himself that people are concerned about – it’s his cronies. No doubt Ken had them too, but by the time he became mayor I suspect most people knew who they were and what they were capable of – after all, Ken has never been one to shy away from controversy.

    Also, it’s a bit unfair to suggest that most people in their 30s are still outraged about losing free school milk (and it was only cut for over 7’s from what I remember!). It was symptomatic of wider cuts in education spending at the time which we all felt; I remember my parents struggling with the high mortgage interest rates *and* then having to pay more for school meals. Not to mention having to keep two small children entertained by candle light during the regular power cuts of the late 70s/early 80s whilst the miner’s strike went on.

    Fortunately, power cuts nowadays are more likely to be due to the rubbish weather :/

    I expect the Nu-Lab generation will have their own outrage in a decade’s time – rising house prices, Iraq, price of oil – and articulate young bloggers will roll their eyes and say ‘Get over it’. Of course you want to, but it’s such an intrinsic part of your childhood that sometimes it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees – and to realise that whilst David Cameron is not Maggie Thatcher, there are still many of the old guard hanging around (just) ready to attempt to wield their influence over young ‘Dave’.