I see that Tony Blair has become a catholic. No surprise there. But as an ex-catholic atheist myself, I’m feeling down with Nick Clegg.
In other catholic-related news, there’s a fine analysis of ‘Fairytale of New York on the BBC website, after the Radio 1 farrago. And I hadn’t realised that Shane McGowan’s birthday is Christmas Day. So as well as Newtonmas, we can also celebrate McGowanmas on Tuesday.
Rationalism and excess: what a fine seasonal combination.
So, Tony has gone, and now Gordon is with us. How will things change? We don’t know, of course; but we can hope.
And it’s only fair to pay tribute to Blair’s accomplishments; for they are many, and many of them are good. Unfortunately, there are many that are not.
Hmmm, have I said all this before? Yeah, well I guess I have.
Curiously (as you may think), it’s never been Iraq that really got to me. Iraq was a mistake: a big, very stupid one; but perhaps a genuine one. By which I mean that even Blair (as well as Parliament) may have been misled by the dodgy dossier; and certainly by the curious mystique or glamour that he seems to see around Bush.
But of course, it’s the assaults on civil liberties at home, and the support for the US’s torture regime, that really blew it for me.
Oh well, Northern Ireland turned out well, there’s still the Human Rights Act, the age of consent was equalised for gays (and Section 28 repealed), and so on.
Things got better; and worse as well. What’s next depends on the Son of a Preacher Man.
So there we have it: Tony will soon be gone. I had forgotten some of the good things: the minimum wage; civil partnerships (though why not for het couples?); the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly; the London Mayor and Assembly; Northern Ireland, of course. Even the hunting and smoking bans.
But Iraq; the dodgy dossier; detention without trial; ID cards; ASBOs; and so on and on.
“You’re a well-respected man, but bullshit! You could’ve been great as The Waterboys once put it. Actually I wouldn’t describe Blair as “well-respected”, so that doesn’t really work.
Should the government go to the country when the party leader steps down? Many think so, but actually, I largely don’t. In theory we live in a representative democracy. Citizens vote for a representative for their local area, and the party with the most seats forms a government. If the leader retires – or even is kicked out, though that does put a different complexion on things – that doesn’t change the position in parliament. And changing the leader does not necessarily mean a change of government.
On the other hand, calling an election wouldn’t be a bad thing for the country, except for one problem: we’d probably end up with a Tory government.
Though it shows how bad things have got when I find myself thinking that maybe a Tory government, if they would scrap ID cards, wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Now that’s a worrying thought.