Monday, 29 September 2008

New arrival and other things...

Yesterday I became the proud father of another beautiful baby daughter - Annabelle May Slinger.

Mummy and baby are both doing very well.

I wonder if she'll fuel my radicalism as much as her sister has? Every minute that passes I feel less inclined to believe that 'the Establishment' is particularly concerned with enabling individuals, families and communities to create FOR THEMSELVES a better society.

There was almost no mention of community in Gordon Brown's conference speech last week. The subtext to almost all he says is "macro, macro, macro". To coin a rhetorical technique 'threes' which Tony Blair made his own, one might say that for the Prime Minister (and seemingly most of the Cabinet) the priority is "macro, macro, macro". As we try to water down the EU's carbon emmissions targets, what was there from the PM about empowering communities and individuals to save energy and generate their own. Very little. And why? I suspect that the Treasury (and DBERR) is instinctively hostile of micro solutions to problems. With all the vested interests and powerful lobbies keen for its ear, I doubt they are institutionally inclined to spend money in rigging the market in favour of renewables (in the way that, for e.g. the Germans have shown is eminently possible). On a day when the Government pledges up to £20 billion of our money to nationalise Bradford and Bingley (admittedly our money will only be used as a last resort and the banking sector itself is liable for £15 billion), it is clear that public money can be found to shore up private banks. Yet the amount we invest in renewables is, frankly, peanuts. Whatever the Government says, it is not enough to do the job - i.e. to rig the market in favour of renewables rather than rigging it in favour of nuclear, gas and coal (all of which are necessary fuel sources in themselves).

I've no time to go into my thinking on this now, as I'm too busy tidying up our house for the new arrival, but it does strike me that my party, the Labour Party, is far too in thrall to the macro solution. I do not advocate the Tory, neo laissez faire option of granting money and power to the Third Sector as the solution. Indeed I am suspicious of it. But why are we as a party seemingly afraid of uttering sentences such as "parents ought to be able to work fewer hours, so that they have more of their evenings free to look after their children, volunteer in their communities, run sports teams, etc, etc." We shouldn't need schools to act as a state-sanctioned automated parenting system between the hours of 8.00am and 6.00pm. We should start to reconfigure the debate in the interests of families. We should stop from repeating the cringe-making mantra of "hard-working families" as if it is some God-given virtue that mothers and fathers devote all hours to working hard in order to buy material goods and expensive houses, in order that this spending props up our economy.

I may be mistaken, but we are perhaps reaching the moment when a new paradigm comes into being. I don't think anybody knows what it is (LEAST OF ALL ME). But with financial capitalism's certainties and dogmas collapsing or being propped up with the ill-disguised techniques of socialist interventionism, with the gap between the rich and the poor (in the UK) expanding, with no politician actually having the guts to say that a fall in house prices could be a good thing or that lower consumption and people actually realising that they needn't spend money to enjoy themselves - perhaps the above and more might provide space for us all to reconsider what our collective and individual priorities are. I'm not sure that the situation we had allowed to be built up by 2007/8 is what we would rebuild.


My band, The 7.20s, supported the superb Exit Calm on Friday. We had a great gig and gave our free sample CDs from our forthcoming EP - Aquarian Charm. Watch this space (all 4-10 of you)!

Over and out,



  1. Congratulations to you and your wife, John, good work!

    All Best wishes,


  2. Many thanks Jacob. Both mummy and Annabel are doing well.

    All the best,


  3. Annabel not Annabelle. No sleep causes typos, don't you knowwww!



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