We don’t do that here

“In framing an ideal we may assume what we wish, but should avoid impossibilities.” This Aristotle quote opens one of my favourite books, Aldous Huxley’s last novel, Island (1962).

It also summarises neatly Neville’s, and to a lesser degree, Sam’s, position re the appetite and capacity for, and thus the likelihood of radical change to the British political and electoral system.

To be fair, Neville suggested not to focus on politics at all in our latest episode, and instead invest all of our podnosticating attention in the “only big news of the day”, the split of Phil and Holly. In a masterclass of persuasive communication however, Sam and I manage to talk him round to our planned discussion of the recent local elections in England and all the related fall-out.  

Chris Riddell in The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/profile/chrisriddell/2023/apr/29/all

Both Neville and Sam refer to local political evidence in their respective leafy neighbourhoods in West Berkshire and East Sussex, where Conservative councillors are all but extinct.

And yet, as Sam highlights, on the local election evidence, UK-psephologist-in-chief Sir John Curtice doesn’t quite see an outright Labour majority at the next general election.

Which brings us to a range of podnostications on the next general elections: as it turned out, the government’s voter ID scheme backfired somewhat, in that it seems to have disproportionately affected Conservative-leaning cohorts.

Or as the ever-double-breast-besuited political and cultural anachronism Rees-Mogg (aka the Somerset Gimp, pace Private Eye) put it: “Parties that try and gerrymander end up finding their clever scheme comes back to bite them, as dare I say we found by insisting on voter ID for elections.

Yup, thanks for clarifying that.

We discuss ID cards, and not for the first or last time on this podcast, Neville declares that “we don’t do that here”.

What ‘we do here’, however, is work around the first-past-the-post system through tactical voting (alternative link) in order to turn an obvious progressive majority in the country into parliamentary representation, and with Keir Starmer making the right-leaning cohort of British media froth with outrage over his suggestion to expand the political franchise to 16+ year olds and settled EU citizens like yours truly, things will remain interesting.   

In somewhat related news, Sam refers to the UKIP wipeout and the statement by the “clown prince of Brexit” (in this case, Nigel Farage, not Boris Johnson) that Brexit has failed (apparently, four in five Express readers concur).

To me, the long-overdue wiping of UKIP from the backside of British politics is less interesting than the question what UKIP mindsets and voters have morphed into? Well, look no further than the Conservative re-enactment of Judean People’s Front vs. the People’s Front of Judea: the Borishewiki of the Conservative Democratic Organisation who gathered in my alma mater’s hometown of Bournemouth, vs the transatlantic-but-definitely-not-globalist NatCon ultras, Engerland branch. It what is loosely described as the ideological soul of the Tory party, both are gunning for the Tory realists.

What the vast majority of non-zealots in this country will make of it is anyone’s guess – though Sam has it on good first-hand (mouth?) authority that young and future voters are none too impressed with calls for more white babies, or the idea that mother and father sticking together for the sake of the children was the only basis for a safe and functioning society (more on this here).

In preparation for this podcast, I revisited this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer, especially the UK section. Edelman EMEA CEO Ed Williams wrote a sobering summary in which he states that “vast majorities of the British public think that politicians are making things in the UK worse and that how they act is making society more divided”.

The study also found that “nearly three in four people believe dealing with the country’s problems requires new thinking, new ideas and new approaches, compared to fewer than one in five who are wedded to longstanding orthodoxy”. What it doesn’t say is what those ideas and approaches might be.

We will keep pondering, podding, and podnosticating, and maybe at some point we will move from “we don’t do that here” to “this is how we can do that here”. Admittedly, “here” might soon be “there” for at least one of us …

And on this utopian thought: Huxley’s Island is in fact a utopian-dystopian novel: utopian in the sense that it depicts an innocent island community in the Pacific Ocean, dystopian in the sense that in the end, it gets destroyed by the forces of modernisation and a Western idea of progress.

Its first and last words are – “Attention”.

Listen to Episode 73:

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