Monday, 10 January 2011

A lack of principles in modern politics

As the Director of Finance held hands with the Principal and snuggled up to Estates Management for the senior management team meeting, she remarked what a grey and dismal start to the week it was. Who knows whether the Prinicipal thought so too, he's much too Zen, and in any case he's a cat. I agreed though, not just because I am married to the Director of Finance (and thus among others, the Head of Animal Care and the Multi-Faith-and-none Chaplain), but also because there it was outside the bedroom window - greyitude and dismalocity.

Fruitcake Miniature College SMT sipped their assam tea. Eight o'clock but still in bed. Still, the day had been mapped out, reponsibilities apportioned, and the approach to tomorrow's meeting with the financial advisor (a real person, probably with pictures of his first child's first Christmas on his iPhone) had been agreed: we're going to cash in all the pension and everything the teaching staff have got while we seek to redeploy him. The trouble is, it's that time of year - January - and that much vaunted gold-plating on public sector pensions only applies much higher up the scale, where thank goodness they've still got their jobs.

Being January, what green shoots there may be are buffeted by the wind. At the same time, this is a good time for pruning, though you can take analogies too far. So it was, I found myself, along with a temporary Estates assistant still home from Christmas, trundling a barrow of vegetable peelings and a ladder towards the allotment. Analogies notwithstanding, the padlock was stiff, but the compost bins were active so there was room for all that Merry Xmas vegetable matter and a neighbour's rabbit's bedding. A robin sang on the bramble patch at the back of the plots, and there were still bird-pecked apples on the tree we had come to prune. The tree was pruned of one big branch and a few smaller ones but there were still plenty of frosted apples left after, (that really is enough analogy). and a pair of bluetits took advantage as soon as we had finished.

The hard work is making the prunings into stacks of logs, sticks and twigs, and in the process I quizzed the temporary Estates assistant on the possibility of the current furore over tuition fees energising young people into political activity, perhaps alongside trade unions. Because, why saddle the young with debt, potentially for much of their working lives before they even think about buying a house (or paying rent for that matter) - unless there's a hidden agenda of social control perhaps? The answer was interesting and the stacks of prunings grew. My assistant's solution was for everyone to refuse en masse to go to university until Parliament came up with a better idea than the present one. The difficulty there, though, is that there is no organisation engaged and committed enough to organise it. Not the National Union of Students? No, their practical support for recent protest has been rubbish. They are mostly all pragmatists who want top jobs, maybe in politics and it doesn't much matter which party. They certainly don't want smashing a bank window on their CV, because like the politicians they aspire to follow, they have ambition but no principals. In short, the young are thoroughly disenchanted with all their representatives while being disproportionatey effected by the current cuts. This state of affairs arises from a lack of any principles in modern politics. And is this a little dangerous? Yes, it is.

So, there we were at the start of the year stacking firewood for next winter, with greyitude and dismalocity all about us. But we had got it done before it started raining, so perhaps the embargo on analogy can be lifted just this once more.

PS green shoots in sport: Australia all out for 97 runs.

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